Pope Francis urged harmony over division in a surprise papal TED talk, delivered via video to the big-ideas gathering in Vancouver.
Francis embraced the theme of this year's conference - 'The Future is You' - saying it was relations and connections between people that would shape society going forward.
"The future is made of 'yous,' it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others," Francis said.
"Everyone's existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions."
He hoped the TED conference, a prestigious gathering devoted to 'ideas worth spreading, would remind people that they need each other. In human life, as in science, all things are connected, Francis reasoned.
"The future of humankind isn't exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies," Francis said.
"Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a 'you' and themselves as part of an 'us.'
He expressed hope that science and technology innovations would come with social equality and inclusion.
It was the first time Francis has addressed an international conference, according to TED organizers. His talk was not listed on the program and kept secret by organizers.
It took many discussions to make the talk happen, and repeated trips to Rome over more than a year, according to TED international curator Bruno Giussani.
"Pope Francis is clearly very concerned about the current state of the world," Giussani said.
"There is a sense of urgency in his actions and his words."