TED Conversations

Sean Gourley

Co-Founder and CTO, Quid


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LIVE CHAT With Sean Gourley: What are some of the lessons from war we can apply to other human endeavors? June 17, 2PM EDT

Live TED Conversation: Join TED Fellow Sean Gourley

Sean is a physicist and military theorist who is using data, maths and visualizations to help us understand the nature of modern war. He asks," What are some of the lessons from war we can apply to other human endeavors?"

This conversation will open at 2:00PM EDT, June 17th, 2011


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  • Jun 17 2011: A smaller group of insurgents has the advantage of small scale logistics in addition to quicker decisions and a greater ability to improvise, I think. They are not as hampered by red tape as conventional military forces are.
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      Jun 17 2011: yes, they are much more fluid in nature. We found that there were on the order of 120 different groups in a place like Iraq. And each group had a half life in the range of months - not years. This structure was incredibly fluid, and allowed advances in strategies and technologies to be transferred across different groups.

      The US forces by comparison were much more structured - though the ground level troops on the US side were also very adaptable. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/06/iraqs-invisible-war/all/1
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        Jun 17 2011: So I see the evolution analogy here clearly. They try and fail, or succeed and pass on succesful strategies to new generations.
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          Jun 17 2011: Sounds like the bike sharing/car sharing business model that has been working due the sharing of the business plan.
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          Jun 17 2011: what is interesting with the evolutionary model here is that there is also an interesting force acting against the strongest groups here. The strongest groups become targets for the conventional forces. And when these groups are attacked they fragment and splinter -- like breaking a sheet of glass.

          All the learning and innovation is then scattered back throughout the system. This prevents lock-in and makes for a very effective distribution of knowledge.

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