TED Conversations

Tim O'Reilly

CEO, O'Reilly Media


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William Gibson said "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." What futures have you seen that are here, but unrecognized?

In the late 70s, when the Homebrew Computer Club was meeting, its members were beginning to experience the world that we all now take for granted. In 1992, when I published the Whole Internet User's Guide and Catalog, there were only 200 websites, but we featured the WWW in the book because it was so clearly the shape of things to come. When Jeff Han demoed his multi-touch screen at TED in February 2006, he prefigured the iPhone launch a year later. When the kids at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition are modifying bacteria, they are showing us homebrew genetic engineering around the corner. Make Magazine's enthusiasts are becoming tomorrow's industrialists, with companies like Makerbot, DIY Drones, and Willow Garage Robotics turning what once seemed like an curiosity into real businesses.

In each case, these people were already living in a future that was soon to rush upon us all.

What have you seen lately that has made you stand up and say "Whoa! That person knows something I don't, is living in a world I haven't seen yet?" The answers can be from technology, but can also be new social forms, and can be positive or negative.

Point me to companies and individuals who tell you something about the shape of the future by the way they are living or the work they are doing.


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    Feb 17 2011: http://energyfromthorium.com/

    The idea of utilizing spent nuclear fuel to fuel gen 4 reactors is essential. Why try to find a way to bury it, when it is perfectly good fuel in and of itself?

    I have been reading this book http://www.amazon.com/Sustainable-Nuclear-Power-World/dp/0123706025

    Which does a good job of estimating the energy resources the world has.

    The future of energy, which could be started tomorrow, would be baseload nuclear power, not baseload coal power.

    Nuclear is a scary word, but its not a scary energy source. Small scale nuclear power generation is the most viable future opportunity for power.

    It does a lot towards reducing our carbon output.

    While 'sustainables' are a great idea, they are not presently economically viable on a large scale basis. With 300% capacity of the current grid running on nuclear, what could be done to reduce all use of fossil fuels?

    I would like to point out that fossil fuels could still be used, if they were not predominately our source of power.

    The US Navy has done a great job of keeping a fleet of small nuclear power plants running safely and well.

    The future of power is available, red tape just disallows it to be an evenly distributed idea.

    Thorium as a fuel source provides plenty of time for humanity to develop a truly sustainable fuel source.

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