Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Fairphone -- changing the way products are made: Bas van Abel at TEDxAmsterdam

Difficulty: 0

Transcriber: Beln Fernndez Gonzlez Reviewer: Denise RQ

Well, where is the end?

I heard even Frank Zappa was on this stage,

so I feel kind of excited already.

A few months ago, my son came to me, he was crying, he was really crying,

- he is 11 years old for your information- because his Nintendo DS broke,

and I think a lot of you people here in the audience,

also know that a Nintendo DS is a kind of important asset

for an eleven year old boy,

and I was kind of upset as well because we were going on a holiday,

and we had to drive a long way, and it kind of keep them busy.

So, luckily I have a technological background,

I know a fair bit about technology,

and I just bought some electronic screws,

screwdrivers actually.

So I told them, "Just give me the Nintendo, daddy will fix it,

no problem, stop crying."

So, I started screwing and screwing

and nothing happened with the bloody thing,

so I took it again, and screwing and screwing,

and what happened is that the metal dust came out of the screw holes

- this little metal- and at that point, unfortunately,

I knew that I screwed up the screws.

And the problem is if you screw up the screws, well, you are screwed


because there is no way to be able to open up that Nintendo anymore.

Because Nintendo uses tri-wing screws, this thingies,

and I had my brand new screwdrivers which were four wings,

so that doesn't match,

but I asked myself two questions.

How the hell I am going to tell my son I screwed up his Nintendo,

and the other question was,

why doesn't Nintendo want me to open up their devices?

What's their thinking behind it?

So let's try that with a phone.

So for everyone who doesn't have the phones in their hands already,

just take your phone, have a look at it,

put it in front of you

- I can see some people -

so just look at it, look at the back.

And let's say you want to open up your phone,

just do crazy and think I'm going to open up this device.

I know for a fact that there is a lot of people in the audience at the moment

that look at their phone like, "Yeah, how do I open up my phone actually?"

So, not everyone, but some phones are not made to open.

And also know that you can't even change the battery in that phone.

And then again, you ask the question, "Why is that?

What's their thinking behind it?

Why don't they want you to open up this phone?"

Is it the business model, do they want to make money on repairs?

Is it the warranty they don't want you to void.

Well, I don't know, but what I do know that I think is not fair

because I think if you can't open it, you don't own it.

And ownership to me is about being able to take responsibility,

is about engagement,

but responsibility comes with understanding things,

and I think opening up something is the first step

towards understanding something.

And I'm not saying that you should gather your screwdrivers now

and start screwing up your own phone,

I'm actually talking about asking the right questions

because how much do we know about our phone?

Where is it made? Where does it come from? Who made it?

Where does it end up if we don't use it anymore?

So, why is important to ask these questions?

Because there is so much more to a phone that the stuff you can see.

So, let's start opening up our phone.

Meet our tiny friend.

This is a very, very small component in your phone.

Anyone here in the audience that want to do a guess at what it is?

Bas van Abel: Very loud! (Audience) Battery!

BVA: Battery, no is not a battery. It's very, very small.

(Audience) A chip! BVA: It's a chip, let's say it's a chip.

But the chip is actually called an electrolytical capacitor.

So, obviously, there are no geeks in the audience.

So this electrolytical capacitor, the capacitor, makes our phone thinner

and makes it possible that we have thin phones

and we love thin phones,

but in this capacitor there is a mineral called coltan,

and coltan is being mined, among other places, in eastern Congo,

and in eastern Congo, the last ten to fifteen years,

millions have died in conflicts related to the mining of this mineral.

And I've been to eastern Congo, and I've been to the mines there,

and I saw guys digging 60-meter-deep holes into the ground,

staying there for days, without any protection,

to get this mineral out of the ground

for our thin phones.

And that's just one of the elements of a phone,

just one tiny, small thing of our phone.

So, if you look at it,

a phone has more than 30 or 30 minerals,

and they are being mined all over the world,

by many, many people, and a lot of them working under terrible conditions.

And the phones, all these minerals going to sub components,

and all these components are being manufactured all around the world,

in factories where millions of people work and again, a lot of them,

working under terrible conditions.

And then we have the companies that put these phones into the market

because we believe that we need a phone every two years,

and there is more phones than people at the moment in the world.

So, when we don't use our phones anymore,

they end up somewhere, in the dump, around the world

and they don't have places to recycle it,

so they have kids taking them apart

to get the minerals back into the system again.

And we all know by now - we touched upon that many times already -

even the secret service is part of our ecosystem, of the phone.

So, how fair is that?

If you look at it - and I just go back to the whole image -

if you look at it, this image shows the full complexity of our economy,

an economy that has become invisible to us,

an economy that connects us all,

but lost its human values.

So, I'm a maker, that means I design stuff, I make stuff,

and I believe that throw making stuff

I can actually change systems.

So a few years back, we started this project called Fairphone,

and we were thinking about setting up a campaign around conflict minerals,

and we thought if we set up a campaign what's the alternative?

You have green energy, you have fair trades clothing,

but a phone that puts social values first doesn't exist.

So, we were naive, strategically naive I'd call it,

but we said, "Why not make that phone ourselves?"

And why?

Because if you make something yourself,

and something as complex as a phone,

we can actually open up the system, understand what is behind it,

and if you understand things,

you can change things, you can improve things.

So through the phone we were going to improve the system

and people said, "No, it's impossible!

"It's not possible to make something

as complex as a phone with a bunch of people."

And that made it even more interesting because if you say impossible,

I think, "Great! Let's do it!"

So we went to Congo,

and we went there to find out there is no such thing as a fair mine.

We went to China to find out that there is no such thing as a fair factory,

but what we did find out

is that there are a lot of initiatives already,

working on improvements in this pledging.

What if we put those improvements into the phone

and make it the best practice?

And we also saw that if you ask the right questions,

no people give the right answers,

and that you can actually change things.

So, we also got questions about the phones and people said,

"So, you say you are going to make this phone.

Where can I buy it? When is it on the market?"

And we didn't really think about that,

but we said, "Well, If we are going to sell 5,000 phones,

we are going to do it,"

and we sold 10,000 phones in three weeks and that was really scary

because that was 10,000 people that bought a phone that didn't exist

from a company that never made a phone before.


So, like I said that was scary, but we had to do it.

So, how does the phone? How does it look like?

This is our phone, it's like any other smartphone,

it does the same things, it costs about the same,

it looks the same,

but like I said, for us, is important to see what's behind the phone.

So, what's behind the phone?

We like to think that we bring back phone production to human proportion,

so this is the conflict-free solder pair which is sitting in Steve's fridge

and Steve is our guy in China taking care of this pledging,

and he personally cooled these solder pairs

we got all the way from a mine in Congo

to make sure this was going to be used in the factory as a solder pair

to be making this prototype.

This phone actually has this conflict-free solder pairs all the way from Congo in it,

but it also has conflict-free tantalum capacitors,

also from eastern Congo,

and we are working on featured gold,

and we made the phone based on open principles,

open source software,

you can actually open up the phone, you can change the battery.

But also, we thought, if we make people part of that whole process

of that making of the phone,

maybe people will also use their phone a bit longer,

and maybe they see products a bit different,

because all those people that bought that phone

actually already have a part of that phone

even though they don't have it yet.

So we know we can't change everything overnight,

we can't solve the war in Congo,

we cannot change the law in China,

and we can't make a fully modular phone which you can put together as Lego,

just by that, but we know if you start with making a phone,

if you'd use the phone as something to start understanding

the whole economy behind it and the systems behind it,

we can actually challenge the system from within

because now we are part of it.

So next time you see something you can't open

get your screwdriver, but make sure is the right screwdriver,

and start screwing it

because if you unscrew something,

you may find out that you can actually fix something.

Thank you very much.


The Description of Fairphone -- changing the way products are made: Bas van Abel at TEDxAmsterdam