TED Conversations

Sonaar Luthra

CEO / Co-Founder Water Canary Inc., Water Canary


This conversation is closed.

If you could open-source one piece of technology, what would you choose and why?

*This Live Conversation will take place on January 18, 2012 at 3PM EST / 12PM PST

Perhaps you'd choose a feature on your favorite video game system, perhaps you'd choose a life-saving medicine, a means of transportation, a fabrication method or a communications protocol... This is an invitation to think big about what would happen if you could take things that already exist and open them up to the world.


Closing Statement from Sonaar Luthra

Thank you everyone for sharing your ideas - this was an excellent conversation.

What I find most striking as I look through the comments is how many scenarios we came up with where open sourcing existing ideas, technologies and systems could promote both efficiency and a better quality of life/social welfare, instead of requiring any compromise between them.

The benefits of open source scientific research can both eliminate waste in bringing more resources to bear on solving problems and developing cures to diseases, while simultaneously making the benefits of those solutions more accessible for everyone. Open agriculture won't just lead to better, sustainable ways to grow food, but systems that allow more people to get out of poverty. And opening up educational resources - like the "dyslexie" font that Kristine O'Connor-delgado mentioned - can both improve the way we teach and learn as well as dramatically increase how many people receive an education.

I'm particularly excited to see where the projects we discussed go from here - please keep us all posted. Thank you for participating!

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    Jan 18 2012: I'm looking at a scientific journal paper. The analysis result seems nice. Problems are (1) no proof that the authors actually did it or did it right, (2) if I want to confirm the results or further development, I have to write my own code, which is waste time of society in general, since the problem is already solved, and here I have to do it again, not grantee to be better..

    So my wish for open-source technology: demand all scientific journal papers which contains program code must be online and downloadable that code. This demand also forces scientist to write readable and precise code, encourage collaboration...
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      Jan 18 2012: That's an incredible idea and I think it would introduce a lot more transparency into the scientific process. I'm particularly interested in your mention of increasing collaboration - what kinds of problems do you think need more collaboration in the scientific world?
      • Jan 18 2012: AIDS.
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        Jan 18 2012: Medical research and treatment (Cancer, Lupus, MS, Parkinson's to name a few)
        • Jan 19 2012: I read one of the posts on TED about Oxitocin, I beleive that is how you spell it. It is the chemical in the brain that makes people "Nice" There are many things that are listed here that could be accomplished if people would just work together and cooperate instead of worrying about who is going to get the credit, the money, the power. That may be too much to ask from "NICE" but there is always hope.
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      Jan 18 2012: I'd LOVE to see journals flow into a Wikipedia-style (in format and access, not necessarily submission process - reviewed submission process?) journal clearinghouse.
      • Jan 18 2012: Categorizing scientific research in a hierarchical-Wikipedia style and allowing people to attach implementations to each article page could be awesome!
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          Jan 18 2012: There are a couple of journals going in that direction that I've seen in my college research (but for pay, of course). Very refreshing and much easier to navigate, read, cite, and use.
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      Jan 18 2012: To piggy back on your idea this would couple well with pushing forward with projects such as the Public Library of Science.
    • Jan 18 2012: First off YES! I totally agree with this idea. There is always ambiguity when reading journal articles, especially in the methods sections (again, leading to conditions in which reproduction of results are dismal at best). My idea to help solve this problem would be to film and upload actual time spent in the lab. This will not only make researchers more diligent in how they conduct research, but it also gives others visual contexts as to what the article is actually talking about (after all, humans use vision as their primary source to intake information).

      Is this idea perfect? No. But I think it is a step in the right direction. .

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