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: It was an awesome hour, and we'decided to keep the conversation open for another 24 hours so that more people can share their ideas.

    It's been a fantastic coincidence that we're having this conversation on a day where countless people and websites are participating in a protest against SOPA/PIPA - I'm curious as we move into the next stage:

    How might embracing open source ideas, technologies, and systems make the world more resilient to conflicts like this one?
    • Jan 18 2012: Open source somehow does add to an ideology - which in my term would be "open source" :) We have seen the build up of this ideology at the foundation of GNU, then the Linux/Windows fan war, and in the end it caught up with ordinary people (and organisations which pursued to embrace such technologies). I can recall someone who was not IT literate telling me why should he buy windows when he can get Linux. When people are used to open source, for example Wikipedia on the free internet, it's difficult to let go. Thus creates some sort of activism, which we are seeing against SOPA/PIPA today. People are also more aware of their internet freedom.
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      Jan 18 2012: i believe that having access to information is really the most powerful tool that we could ever posses.
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      Jan 18 2012: The timing wasn't intentional?

      I would have thought it was. Wacky.
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      Jan 18 2012: If we can make is so that the governments and private industries are not creating and keeping all intellectual property - if we keep it amongst ourselves online in a creative and engaging environment - we can create a place of unimaginable growth.

      I was listening to a Larry Lessig TEDspeech earlier that laid it out there. If we are able to maintain an open platform that allows for the massive sharing of ideas and research we can change everything. If knowledge is power and power is what is needed to change our planet, then revolutionizing the methods of gaining knowledge is necessary to create change.

      I am stuck on a quote right now that I have on a post-it attached to my computer screen..."The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." It is from Alice Walker.

      If from a young age we educate our children to explore, share, create, and imagine, while we living as their example, then they will never think that they don't have the power to create change. Traditional systems currently in place wouldn't work under a culture such as described, but a better one could be created. Isn't The City 2.0 all about creating a new method of life and living? Changing everything and yet changing nothing. Creating a more conscious life.

      It's hardly possible to get to City 2.0 without the people of City 1.0 recognizing their potential.
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      Jan 18 2012: The Venus Project propose just such an 'open source' approach to all tecnology and resources. This would potentially bring an end to 99% of conflicts as almost all conflicts and acts of violence are about these things...

      The term commonly used for this type of system is a 'Resource based economy' (RBE) where individuals literally share the earths resources and take an active role as citizens to maintain and improve the life supporting systems of the environment and society.

      It is widely belived that the technological advancements required to assist in developing such a system are already with us. It is just the current 'culture lag' that is hindering progress.
    • Jan 19 2012: Education and Access to information would make all people play on a more even field and work together for better solutions overall. Dependency on oil, The destruction of the environment, Millions of births and deaths in the third world are all issues that can be extinguished if the tools to fight them were available equally and irrevocably to all of humanity. Lack of knowledge is the number two reason for the destruction of our world - Greed of the few being the number one reason.
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        Jan 19 2012: But greed is just the result of a system that rewards self preservation. You don't see it so much in cultures have more emphasis on collective preservation. Remove the incentive to maximise one's own profit and behavior would change.

        I remain optimistic that increasing education and knowledge sharing will lead to this, one way or another.

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