This week Vancouver ushers in the annual TED conference, hot on the heels of the CES gadget show in Las Vegas and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

From March 16 – 20th 2015 the organisers of TED 2015 will present events linked to the ambitious theme of Truth and Dare in a bid to present the ‘most provocative, invigorating and mind-shifting TED yet’

Infamously, the key speakers are allotted just eighteen minutes to present their carefully crafted speeches. The line-up this week includes Tony Faddell (who developed the iPod  and has recently been appointed with the redevelopment of Google Glass), and Bill Gates, who is expected to discuss his latest philanthropic projects. So far, so expected.

But one thing that sets TED apart is its inclusion of the unexpected, and also set to speak at Vancouver this year is Monica Lewinsky. Given her history as an intern at the White House, and the subsequent Lewinsky Scandal, she is an appropriate celebrity personality to put forward a discussion of online bullying and harassment. 

Lewinsky only recently broke her silence in the media. She is certainly a daring choice of speaker in line with the theme of provocation. Last year, Edward Snowden made a surprise appearance via video link. The conference may well have yet more tricks up its sleeve this week. 

While some critics slam the event as a ‘circus’, many of the bigwigs who have forked out over £5,000 in sterling for their tickets will be looking forward to innovative demonstrations and an atmosphere of big ideas. A significant draw this year is a demo by Rory Aborvitiz of start-up Magic Leap, who is expected to show off his Google-backed augmented reality devices. The devices superimpose 3D computer-generated imagery over real world objects by projecting a digital light field into the user’s eyes. 

As well as big names, twenty potential ‘game-changers’ are also selected as fellows and are given valuable airtime and mentoring in a bid for funding and publicity for problem-solving projects, from biology to astrophysics. For example, this year Dr Patience Mthunzi will raise awareness of her project to administer medicines for viruses such as HIV more effectively by using laser technology. 

Whether a circus or a showcase, TED 2015 is set to put the most topical developments in technology right into the spotlight.