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Great tech happens in crazy cocktails

How do great technologies happen? It is an abstract question, but I am mulling on it this week after a meeting last week with Laskhmi Pratury, a former Intel executive who is now co-host of TED Conferences, an offshoot of an initiative called TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design).

india Updated: Jul 03, 2009 13:11 IST

How do great technologies happen?

It is an abstract question, but I am mulling on it this week after a meeting last week with Laskhmi Pratury, a former Intel executive who is now co-host of TED Conferences, an offshoot of an initiative called TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design).

TED has a simple but hugely unpredictable theme: “Ideas worth spreading.”

It holds an annual conference at Long Beach, California and one at Oxford in July. It kicks off in India in November this year at the Infosys campus at Mysore.

Its speakers have included people like former US vice-president Al Gore and tech guru Nicholas Negroponte.

Although it costs $2,400 (Rs. 1.3 lakh), attendance is done on the basis of a selection process to carefully mix different kinds of people.

I am still sceptical about conferences where it becomes fashionable to meet names you can drop, but the concept of TED (www.ted.com) is breathtaking. TED is a brainchild of Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of cutting-edge Wired magazine. It is all about mixing scientists, designers, adventurers, idealists, inventors, business people and half-crazy niche experts.

To give an example: earlier this year, Shai Agassi, former President (products) of software giant SAP, spoke about his vision to build an electric car, so that the world can be oil-free by 2020. Could it be possible?

Why not? Could we imagine mobile phones in rural Bihar 30 years ago?

The future may be much different than we think, and it takes crazy cross-fertilisations of ideas to invent it.