Eric Schmidt is Executive Chairman of Google. Sergey Brin is Co-Founder of Google.
Eric and Sergey open Solve for X, sharing their views and visions for radical technology innovation in the 21st century.
Solve for X: Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin open the event
Neal Stephenson is the author of the three-volume historical epic 'The Baroque Cycle' (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World) and the novels Cryptonomicon, The Diamond Age, Snow Crash, and Zodiac. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
For thousands of years it has been the case that the imagination of storytellers has been a guiding light for the world of people working change the world. In the last decade or two though, science fiction has almost fallen behind the work of technologists and entrepreneurs. For the sake of a more interesting tomorrow, we need to get the proverbial horse back out in front of the cart - with our imagination professionals building a vision of the future to inspire the builders of the new world.
Solve for X: Neal Stephenson on getting big stuff done
Mir Imran is CEO and Chairman of InCube Labs, a life sciences research lab. Mir's passion is creating medical solutions that dramatically improve patient outcomes and change the standard of care. After earning an EE degree and attending medical school for 3 years, Mir began his career as a med-tech entrepreneur in the late 1970s and has founded over 20 companies since those early days. Mir holds more than 200 issued patents and is perhaps most well-known for his contributions to the first FDA-approved Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator.
Many of the world's most pervasive, expensive, and critical disease actually have known therapies - therapies that as they are currently administered are more toxic than the disease itself. But if there was a mechanism to give just the right amount of these pharmacologic agents at just the right time and to just the parts of the human body that needed it, that mechanism would be the vehicle for radical progress in the fight against disease like Parkinson, Alzheimers, MS, and many many more.
Solve for X: Mir Imran on drug delivery
Mary Lou Jepsen is the CEO and Founder of Pixel Qi Corporation, a high tech start up with dual headquarters in Taipei and Silicon Valley. Previously she co-founded One Laptop per Child and served as its Chief Technology Officer and the chief architect of the $100 laptop. She served on the faculty of MIT and was the CTO of Intel`s Display Division. Mary Lou has also done considerable work as a high tech artist, and co-created the first computed holographic video system in the world at the MIT Media Lab.
What if it were possible to literally take pictures of the mind’s eye? There is no doubt that if such an ability existed it would completely transform everything from how we communicate across language barriers, save our memories, replay our dreams, how we communicate with ourselves (psychology), how we communicate with computers (HCI), and on and on the list goes. The evidence is now on the horizon that taking these pictures is in fact possible and could be made within the decade.
Solve for X: Mary Lou Jepsen on imaging the mind's eye
Adrien Treuille is an Assistant Professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon. One thread of Adrien`s research seeks model-reduction approaches to complex phenomena such as animal morphology, human motion and large fluid systems. A complementary thread addresses scientific challenges through multi-player on-line games such as Foldit (protein folding) and EteRNA (nano-engineering). Adrien has won the NSF CAREER award, and was named one of the top 35 innovators under the age of 35 by Technology Review.
This talk describes Foldit and EteRNA, a series of remarkable new scientific discovery games Adrien has helped create. These games lead us to wonder: how many unknown 'Kasparovs' are out there on the Internet - potential experts at tasks they never knew existed? Is this the future of expertise?
Solve for X: Adrien Treuille on collaborative science
Privahini Bradoo is the Co-Founder and CEO of BioMine, a green mining start up aimed at recycling metals from electronic wastes sustainably and economically. Through her career Priv has been committed to helping combat climate change and move towards a clean tech based economy. Prior to BioMine, Priv led the commercialisation of several clean technology start ups, including LanzaTech and Microvi. Priv holds a PhD in Neuroscience from The University of Auckland and attended Harvard Business School as a Fulbright Scholar.
Privahini discusses the dark side of Moore's law, the exponentially growing amount of electronic waste. What if this electronic waste could be mined, reclaiming the precious metals for reuse? Privahini discusses her company Biomine, which is attempting to just that.
Solve for X: Privahini Bradoo on resource reclamation
Rob McGinnis is Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer of Oasys. Rob invented the Oasys EO Desalination and Water Purification processes and co-invented of the Oasys Osmotic Heat Engine and Osmotic Grid Storage systems, and authored more than a dozen patents in desalination, water purification, chemical separations, heat exchange, and membrane and module design. He earned his B.A. and his PhD in Environmental Engineering at Yale University.
Global water scarcity presents a grave challenge to continued human development and sustainability. The answer, however, is to use more water, not less. In order to do this, a dramatic technological breakthrough in desalination is necessary. This presentation describes the beginning of that effort.
Solve for X: Rob McGinnis on global water scarcity
David Berry is a Partner at Flagship Ventures and CEO of Essentient. He has founded several life science and sustainability ventures, including LS9, Joule Unlimited, Theracrine, Eleven Biotherapeutics, and Essentient. He received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and a Ph.D. from MIT, where he served as a member of the MIT Corporation - its Board of Trustees. Among his over thirty scientific and academic awards, David was named as the Innovator of the Year under the age of 35 by Technology Review and received the prestigious Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for invention and innovation.
The cow is, to put it mildly, not the most efficient mechanism to turn basic ingredients like CO2, water, and sunlight into calories and nutrition. Soy beans are better, but it is still an extremely inefficient process. What if we could skip many of the intermediate steps and directly convert the basic components of food into calories and nutrition. Such a solution would leap us forward by more than an order of magnitude in our ability to feed the world.
Solve for X: David Berry on efficient nutrition production
Daphne Preuss is the co-Founder and CEO of Chromatin, Inc., a growth-stage company that is a leading developer of renewable energy crop feedstocks. Daphne co-founded Chromatin after inventing synthetic biology technology that enables rapid improvements of crop characteristics. Prior to joining Chromatin, Daphne was a Professor at the University of Chicago and led a research laboratory in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She serves on the Board of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Preuss earned her Ph.D. at MIT and performed postdoctoral work at Stanford.
Agriculture is about 10% of world GDP and its productivity has only gone up about a factor 5 in the past 3000 years. There is evidence that good decision support tools and better data aggregation, analytics, and distribution to farmers around the world (on devices they already have even in the developing world) could jump world agricultural productivity forward. Imagine. For what might be as little as a million hours of work, that we could feed the planet much better and have world GDP tick up measurably.
Solve for X: Daphne Preuss on agricultural productivity
Babak Parviz is McMorrow Associate Professor of Innovation at the University of Washington. He received degrees in literature, physics and electrical engineering and after completing a postdoctoral fellowship in chemistry and chemical biology, he joined the University of Washington as a faculty member. His areas of research include nanotechnology, micro systems and biomedical devices. He has received a number of awards including the NSF CAREER Award and MIT TR35.
Healthcare must leave the hospital and become a 24/7 lifestyle-integrated industry if it is to become as effective and as cost effective as we all hope it can become. To do that, monitoring ourselves continuously is the central problem to be solved. Today body monitors fall into two somewhat unsuccessful camps - implanted monitors and external wearable monitors. What if you could build body monitoring and display elements directly into the contact lens?
Solve for X: Babak Parviz on building microsystems on the eye
Michael Crow, knowledge enterprise architect, is president of Arizona State University. He is designing the transformation of ASU into a new highly innovative, high speed adaptive knowledge enterprise which combines academic excellence, inclusiveness, and societal impact - a model he terms the `New American University.`
Moonshot thinking is great, but where does it come from? Academia and entrepreneurship are both fields it can come from, but quite often does not. What would it take to create a moonshot factory? A place that was dedicated not to publications or patents or profits but directly to the idea of radical thinking, radical problem solving, and driving radical levels of positive impact. Now try to imagine taking one of the world's largest universities and turning it into such a place!
Solve for X: Michael Crow on higher education impact
Juan Enriquez is the Managing Director of Excel Venture Management. Juan has authored As the Future Catches You, The Untied States of America, and Homo Evolutis. Juan has been profiled as as `Mr. Gene` (Fortune) and `Darwin for the DNA Age` (Wired). He has helped found or guide over a dozen tech start ups including Synthetic Genomics, Zip Car, Xcellerex, Activate Networks. He sailed around the world with Dr. J. Craig Venter on a sampling expedition that increased the number of known genes by 10X. He negotiated a peace treaty with the Zapatista rebels in Mexico and was the Founding Director of the Harvard Life Sciences Project.
Life is the software that makes its own software. Juan gives us a glimpse into the coming revolution of synthetic genomics and then reminds us that one of the moonshots we could collective take is to make sure that the path is clear for innovation to happen and that regulators factor in the cost of impeding progress as well as allowing it.
Solve for X: Juan Enriquez on harnessing synthetic genetics
Nicholas Negroponte founded the MIT Media Lab (1980), WiReD Magazine (1990), and One Laptop per Child. He also wrote Being Digital, a New York Times best seller, and has funded 60 start ups, including Zagat, Sohu, Velti and Diapers.com. Nicholas has recently launched a reading experiment to learn whether poor, remote and primitive kids (5-10 years old) can learn to read on their own with a solar powered, Android tablet suitably loaded with immersive and constructionist material (2012, Ethiopia).
Few people question that education is the most critical problem for to solve - both in the developed and in the developing worlds. The temptation is to see this as a social engineering questions and not as a technology challenge though. What if you just asserted it was possible for a device to be smart enough, cheap enough, rugged enough, and connected enough that it could be dropped into any village square and could not only teach children how to read, but teach them how to learn and inspire them that learning was fun. What would that take?
Solve for X: Nicholas Negroponte on learning by themselves
Omri Amirav-Drory, Ph.D. is the founder & CEO of Genome Compiler Corp, a Synthetic Biology venture. Prior to starting his company, Dr. Amirav-Drory was a Fulbright postdoctoral research fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine & HHMI, performing Neuroscience research using Structural and Synthetic Biology methods. Dr. Amirav-Drory received his Ph.D in Biochemistry from Tel-Aviv university for Biochemical and Structural studies of membrane protein complexes involved in bio-energetics.
Life may be the software that makes its own hardware, but where is the compiler? If we plan to start programming life itself, we are going to need a radically different and better tool kit than the one available to geneticists today. Omri lays out a concrete vision for how such a tool would work and for how it would be used to create the bio-products our future needs so badly.
Solve for X: Omri Amirav-Drory on synthetic life toolkits
Andreas Raptopoulos is a designer, inventor and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Matternet, launching a new paradigm for transportation using a network of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Previously, Andreas founded FutureAcoustic, a venture that developed a new platform for music that listens and reacts to the user`s environment. He works across the boundaries of business, technology and design and is driven by the desire to change the world and a belief that technology can be a force for immensely positive, widespread change.
We take it from granted today that you can put data out on the Internet and it will sort of magically move to anywhere else on the planet. What if there was a Matternet that could do the same thing with physical objects? Sounds like FedEx, perhaps, but what if this worked even where there were no roads? What if this worked even where the roads were constant traffic jams? Sort of like each of us having owl post from Harry Potter. See what that world would look like!
Solve for X: Andreas Raptopoulos on physical transport
Anthony Sutera is an entrepreneur in communications, specializing in radio, satellite and wireless communications systems. He has over 20 years experience in creating and managing companies competing in the communications market. Anthony is currently the CEO of Chamtech Enterprises, a company holding several patents on its nano, spray-on antenna technology. Anthony founded Radeum Inc., DBA FreeLinc and was responsible for research and development and patent portfolio for the company`s Near-field Magnetic Induction technology.
We like to imagine the creators of the future as geniuses who build their world changing products out of first principles. They know what it is and why it works before they begin building. But sometimes it doesn't happen that way. Sometimes great ideas are the product of discover and tinkering. Anthony tells us about an accidental discovery that may change the world of wireless communications.
Solve for X: Anthony Sutera on low power wireless everywhere
As VP of R&D at MC10, Kevin Dowling is responsible for driving high-performance stretchable electronics technology into products and applications. Previously, Kevin was VP of Strategic Technologies for Philips Color Kinetics where he led the development of the company`s most innovative and successful lighting and control products. He was also Chief Robotics Engineer for PRI Automation and has been issued over 60 US patents. He received his BS in Mathematics, and MS and PhD degrees in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.
Every time we find a way to reduce the size of electronics by a factor of 10, we reinvent what electronics means in our lives and how much more they can be used to solve the world's problems. At this point, the fragility of electronics has become a bottleneck - the housing to protect the electronics we make is now usually more than 90% of the scale of the device. What would happen if we could break this assumption? We would have to totally rethink medical imaging, wearable computers, ubiquitous computing and so much more.
Solve for X: Kevin Dowling on stretchable electronics
Mike Cheiky is the President and Founder of CoolPlanet Energy Systems, which is developing carbon negative fuels. He is the only two-time World Economic Forum Pioneer in the Energy and Environment sector and has won numerous other awards including: the 2008 Strategic News Service Fire Starter Award and the 2007 Forbes List of Disruptive Technologists. He has 12 technology awards to date. He has authored 50 patents and been cited in another 500
The fact is that plants have a carbon-negative phase - a time during which they remove carbon from the atmosphere. But they give it back in another phase, unfortunately. What if there was a way to take plant waste (like corn husks) and turn it into bio fuels? What if this also removed carbon from our atmosphere? What if the same process also produced a substance that would help turn deserts back into productive crop land? What if this process could be done on an industrial scale but also could be made self-contained in a small village so that farmers all over the world could get the economic benefits of producing bio fuels with their agri-waste and simultaneously help clean our atmosphere? Too good to be true? Watch!
Solve for X: Mike Cheiky on negative carbon liquid fuels
Megan oversees teams that manage early-stage partnerships, explorations and technology licensing as Google's Vice President of New Business Development. She joined Google in 2003 and has led several of the company's acquisitions, including Google Earth, Google Maps, and Picasa. Previously, Megan was the COO and then CEO of PlanetOut, the leading LGBT online community. Under her leadership, PlanetOut grew tenfold in reach and revenue. Megan holds bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT including masters work in the MIT Media Lab.
Astro Teller is currently Director of New Projects for Google, working to help the company explore new potential business areas. Astro was the founding CEO and a current Director of Cerebellum Capital, Inc, an AI-based hedge fund management firm. Astro was also the founding CEO and a current Director of BodyMedia, Inc, a leading wearable body monitoring company. Prior to BodyMedia, Dr. Teller was co-founder and CEO of SANDbOX AD, an advanced development technology company. Astro did his Ph.D. in artificial intelligence from Carnegie Mellon University, where he was a recipient of the Hertz fellowship. He is also a novelist and a screenwriter.
Solve for X: Informal welcome by Megan Smith & Astro Teller
What is a Solve for X talk?
There are three important questions that distinguish a Solve for X talk.
- Does it highlight a huge problem?
- Is there a concrete solution that could make a radical impact?
- Does it explain breakthrough science and technology that could enable this solution?
We hope our Solve for X speakers inspire people to work on solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. We selected speakers who answered the three Solve for X questions particularly well or are finding a way to drive Solve for X thinking.
Most of the speakers are working hard on making their
Solve for X: A recap of our 2012 event