Thomas Flaherty

Student, College of William and Mary
Culpeper, VA, United States

About Thomas

Bio

The short story is that my full name is Thomas Francis Flaherty the Fifth. I am 20 and a junior at the College of William and Mary, where I am a Public Policy major minoring in Management and currently serving as VP for the campus Interfaith club.

Languages

English, Latin

Areas of Expertise

Public Policy, Social Networks, Environmental Policy, Philosophy, Virtual Collaboration , Socio-Economic Development, Gifted and Talented Education, Advocacy

An idea worth spreading

Liberal Statism. Planning is no longer the Road to Serfdom- with proper data collection and interpretation, large institutions such as government lie better equipped to make many decisions than the average citizen, and only the government may be forced by the citizenry to lay open its practices and machinations along with those of other large institutions.

The world is growing too small for organizational secrecy. The privacy of the home must remain sacred, but public spaces and all public and private institutions must have open doors and no mysteries.

Equal opportunity, in the end, necessitates a true welfare state. One where programs are universal, making regulations simple and rendering complex bureaucracies over those regulations unnecessary.

I'm passionate about

Building a better world, seeing issues from as many perspectives as possible, tackling problems through multiple disciplines, humanism.

Talk to me about

Anything.

People don't know I'm good at

Ballroom dance, martial arts, thought experiments, chess, moral calculus.

My TED story

I'd watch maybe a TED talk or two before, but I really started avidly watching TED after seeing a short segment about the danger of single stories in a sociology class February 2010. After watching the rest of the video, I started watching one related video after another, then random videos, and now I watch a few TED talks every day if I have time. I am a deep believer in all solutions being interdisciplinary and watch all TED talks without any subject-based exclusion. Every field of expertise has relevance reaching far wider when combined with others, so absorbing the thought patterns and mindsets of multiple fields is the best way, I think, to develop novel approaches to mankind's age-old problems.

Comments & conversations

69612
Thomas Flaherty
Posted over 4 years ago
Angela Belcher: Using nature to grow batteries
Currency would still have function for exchanging private ownership of raw materials, energy use, and of course intellectual property insofar as the genetic codes of usefully enhanced phages can be patented. This technology cannot end capitalism. The "working class" would just start looking like lab techs, paid currency for the repetitive labor of managing the actions of viruses in multiple petri dishes. Its just the more sophisticated version of a worker making sure machines are doing what they're supposed to. Besides, buildings will always need to be built. Construction workers are here to stay, at least until androids and robots take those jobs.
69612
Thomas Flaherty
Posted over 4 years ago
Angela Belcher: Using nature to grow batteries
This is such a perfect integration of the genius of nature and the genius of mankind. The best part is this: if viruses can start putting electronic products together, it is very likely that similarly engineered viruses can take nano-engineered designs apart and leave a pool of raw materials. Which, of course, the builder viruses can then use to make an upgraded product. Then we'd have zero-waste product cycles, where factories are small and demand a few high-skill workers. The potential here is staggering.
69612
Thomas Flaherty
Posted over 4 years ago
Outlaw war. It is challenging is to know that there are people in power who act as if they are heartless.
The very concept of a law is rooted in war. For there to be a law that has meaning, there must be enforcement, for there to be en...force...ment, there must be force. Now, an coalition of the powerful could sign a treaty and outlaw war... but if rogue states began fighting, what would those powers do? Impose toothless economic sanctions? Call them bad names? Or destroy their military capacity in a "police action?" As for everyone defending their own property and minding their own business, that's the utopia of anarchism that forgets the natural tendency of us humans to form associations- businesses, churches, motorcycle gangs, fight clubs, dojos, schools, community groups, etc. There will always be the self-interested who will associate to use force to acquire what they want. And there must always be those who will band together to defend life, liberty, property and happiness. I think rather than outlawing war, we all just need to develop a bias for peace. Before we know the facts, to go into a room ready to argue for peace, and give those who want war a damn hard time getting one. I believe in the concept of just war, but I also believe that they are far fewer in history than people who remember them fondly might like to think.
69612
Thomas Flaherty
Posted over 4 years ago
Should TED allow demonstrations of military equipment and uniform on the TED stage?
The purpose of TED is to "spread ideas." It is a fact, opinion on the matter regardless, that the military is a major funder of research and that military technologies change the world. When a "game-changing" or "paradigm-shifting" technology happens to be a military one, it changes the way wars are fought. What changes the way wars are fought changes who can realistically fight wars, and changes international politics and diplomacy. Gunpowder slowly ended the days of pitched battles, the nuclear bomb was the root of the deterrence concept, and the Predator drone calls into modern question the ancient issue of assassination. The rise of offensive military technologies- enhancements in the damaging effects and accuracy of weapons- and shift towards asymmetric conflicts in civilian-filled areas has been eroding concepts of armor and fortified positions. These trends taken together make for a more deadly form of war where the only defense is the enemy not knowing where you are, and a form of war more advantageous to non-state actors. Should exoskeletons ever be made both robust and sufficiently cost-effective for war use, the great change will be the possibility of troops being fully mobile while armored to the degree of being bulletproof to anything less than a .50 caliber. Such a shift would turn the tables against non-state actors. If you're still following me, then you probably understand my argument by now: military ideas should be counted in "Ideas worth Spreading." Military technologies shape our lives and individuals and the interactions between states and between states and groups. Moreover, military ideas, such as "total war," "shock and awe," "OODA loops (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act)," "police actions," and etc have far-reaching have implications. Excluding transformational ideas and technologies which happen to relate to war-fighting would be tragic for TED. You don't have to watch these talks if you intensely dislike the military.