TED Conversations

Sean Gourley

Co-Founder and CTO, Quid


This conversation is closed.

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


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jun 17 2011: Sean, I'm curious if technological advantages actually show a strong difference in the statistics of "success" in war... more so than the "home plate" advantage of the insurgents or standard measures like training and experience. And then after a war, (assuming the current wars will ever actually end) does the new technology developed for the war really provide an advantage to the society?
    • thumb
      Jun 17 2011: This is like the NASA space argument - we go into space and see look at all these cool spin off technologies we get in return (like a space pen*).

      There are of course obvious technological gains that are made with all the military spending that is done. von Braun leveraged both the Nazi and the US military might to pursue his dreams of human space flight. As a result of Iraq and Afghanistan we have improved critical medical care and built very effective translation devices.

      War today though has perhaps contributed the most to the rise of two things. Robots and prosthetic limbs. The prosthetic limbs coming as a direct result of the increases in critical medical care on the battlefield. More soldiers that lose limbs are now surviving - so we generate new technologies to help them to walk again.

      Whilst technologies are developed as a result of war - it is pretty hard to make the case that all the money spent on war couldn't have been spent on developing these technologies without the need to kill people along the way.

      *note space pen not actually developed by NASA but makes for a nice story point :)
      • Jun 17 2011: That confirms my thinking. We would be better off without war in just about every way, including technology. But you didn't answer my question about how technology actually helps in the war zone compared to other advantages like training, home field, etc... Any data or thoughts on that?
    • thumb
      Jun 17 2011: Interesting too to note that technologies not developed for war are now being used within wars - think twitter example in Egypt. What will be the next consumer technology to be re-purposed for use within the war/peace arena?

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.