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 would like to see climate modeling become available for study at a more local level. In response to climate change, water conservation and retention could be improved per watershed, forestalling or preventing drought from wiping out existing water suplies. Jurisdictional overlap and 'water rights' laws written during vastly different times now make such information unusable, except by hundreds of nodes of super computers.
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      Jan 18 2012: That would be incredible, and overlaps with an issue that's very close to my heart: could putting more information within reach fuel demand for a better quality of life at both a local and global level? It amazes me how abstract climate data remains for average people, it's one of the greatest problems we face and yet, I don't see data driving conversations as often as it could!
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      Jan 18 2012: Couldn't agree more with sentiment, but the idea of distributed supercomputing is ultimately flawed. What we need is a (small number) of incredibly powerful computers (Zetta-FLOPS machines) specially built to be fit for purpose. See www.simundo.org for some background.

      Cheers, Richard.
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      Jan 18 2012: So many of the laws concerning the water supply predate existing ecological conditions. So many of these laws combined with excessive consumption of natural resources CREATED the problems we have now.

      We need to revisit the flow of major rivers, examine the validity of some of the dams and adjust our perceptions of what we as humans want to change on the planet. The ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico and the survival of the wetlands of the Mississippi delta depend on an examination of these things. My college geology professor explained that the wetlands are disappearing at a dramatic rate. Yes we are protecting populated areas by daming and releasing only as needed, but we are damaging the ecology of the entire delta system.

      This is just one river and one gulf...translate that to the entire planet.

      Our need to control nature and her resources should be studied and changes enacted to slowly adjust and allow the planet to thrive.

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