Sean Gourley, trained as a physicist, has turned his scientific mind to analyzing data about a messier topic: modern war and conflict. He is a TED Fellow.

Why you should listen

Sean Gourley's twin passions are physics (working on nanoscale blue-light lasers and self-assembled quantum nanowires) and politics (he once ran for a national elected office back home in New Zealand).

A Rhodes scholar, he's spent the past five years working at Oxford on complex adaptive systems and collective intelligent systems -- basically, using data to understand the nature of human conflict. As he puts it, "This research has taken me all over the world from the Pentagon, to the House of Lords, the United Nations and most recently to Iraq". Originally from New Zealand, he now lives in San Francisco, where he is the co-founder and CTO of Quid which is building a global intelligence platform. He's a 2009 TED Fellow.

In December 2009, Gourley and his team's research was published in the scientific journal Nature. He is co-founder and CTO of Quid.

Sean Gourley’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Sean Gourley


5 unconventional maps to get lost in

September 18, 2013

From the earliest days of human exploration we’ve made progressively more accurate and sophisticated maps. Maps help us find our way around the world we live in. Maps help us get to our destination. Maps keep us from becoming lost. But what if you have no destination? What if becoming lost is the point? Well, […]

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TED Fellow Sean Gourley published in Nature

December 16, 2009

TED Fellow Sean Gourley spoke at TED University 2009 about the mathematics of war — how he and his team of mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists uncovered a strong mathematical relationship linking the fatality and frequency of insurgent attacks. Today, TED is absolutely thrilled to tell you that this research has been published in the […]

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The week in comments

May 9, 2009

This week’s comment round-up is a tribute to’s spiffy new commenting system, that lets you rate others’ statements up or down and have threaded conversations! Rather than using our own editorial tastes to select comments, today we’ve let you, the community, pick your top 5. Here are the highest rated comments on each talk […]

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