Leonard “Mr. Spock” Nimoy speaks at DEMO (video)

We were honored to have Leonard Nimoy, best known as Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, as one of our speakers last night.

VentureBeat and DEMO produced the event, which was hosted by Fusion-io, a leader in efficient server technology.

As we gathered to discuss large-scale innovations and future-focused technologies, we were joined by Mr. Nimoy, who shared some of his thoughts on how science fiction of the past is becoming the scientific and technological reality in the present.

Nimoy is in a unique position. Having been a fundamental part of the most influential science fiction series (arguably) ever, he’s associated with science and technology. But the man is an artist — he’s an actor by profession and also an excellent photographer

But he realizes that curiosity and creativity drive both of these disparate pursuits, and he shares the importance of those two virtues with us, both through his words and his character.

If there’s one thing I learned from listening to Mr. Nimoy both on- and offstage last night, it’s that he is completely devoid of arrogance or complacency; and his wide-eyed, unpretentious approach to people and ideas is part of what makes him so inspiring. He is endlessly inquisitive, and he showed us that he is willing to learn, whether from great minds like that of Steve Wozniak or from mere passers-by whose only commendations are the new bits of information they possess.

His attitude was (to me, at least) a stark and refreshing contrast to the know-it-all aura we technologists sometimes acquire. When we involve ourselves with the day-to-day creation of the tools the future world will use, we tend to become a bit blasé, to acquire a certain road-weariness or ennui. We are distrustful of others’ ideas when we ought to be open-minded, and we are critical when we ought to be encouraging, for innovation’s sake.

Nimoy ended his prepared remarks with a quotation from famous science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke: “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

I hope that we, like Nimoy, continue to explore our own strange, new worlds with enthusiasm and fresh eyes, and to innovate without regard for the realm of the impossible.