Learning, and enjoying it
Da Vinci, Russell, Aristotle ... the great polymaths were my childhood heroes. I was inspired by the thought of doing many different things in life, and doing them all well. My fascination with this has led me to many twists and turns in my own journey of work and learning.
The future of the planet is increasingly shaped by what happens in the world's urban areas. Already, more than half the people in the world live in cities, and this proportion will grow as the metropolises everywhere continue to attract new residents. At the Centre for Public Problem Solving, we look at how urbanisation can be understood, managed, and imagined to help create vibrant cities.
I also have a parallel interest in media. In 1998, Subramaniam Vincent and I began publishing India Together, which included positive development stories written by students. This has since grown into one of India's largest public affairs magazine, and I continue to edit it. Recently, I have been working with a few others to develop a hyper-local online news and information platform for cities.
The world is changing very fast, and one of the most important reasons for this is that technology is changing rapidly. That should give us a clue - that the answers to the complex challenges we see around us could themselves be in the realm of technology - how we shape it, and how we use it in the public interest. At Mapunity, the social technology firm I founded in 2006, we explore this question.
What I really wanted to be, as a young boy, was a scientist, and I was fortunate to realise this dream - first as an astronomer, and then as an atmospheric scientist. As an astronomer, I studied star formation, and developed a technique to spot new stars as they are formed. For my PhD and during my subsequent employment, I studied Antarctic and Arctic clouds, especially their relationship to global warming and climate change.