Moonshot Thinking: Solve For X

I follow Larry Page on Google Plus. Yesterday he posted this:

Larry Page  –  Yesterday 17:59  –  Public
Last week we hosted the first ever “Solve for X” — a forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moonshot thinking and teamwork. The site has just gone up and there are a number of cool talks including Neal Stephenson on “Getting Big Stuff Done” with more to come soon!

I went to the site and then watched the Neal Stephenson video. Frankly, he is not one of the most inspiring speakers that I have seen. He did though come up with some challenging thoughts and one big idea.
His talk asked us why we have lost the ability to imagine big ideas in the way that the 60’s saw us get  to the Moon when many had believed that it would not be possible for many many years to come. He asked why today’s innovative thinkers are designing better apps for mobile phones or even more exciting interactive video games! They are not solving the world’s water shortage, or developing powerful technology which can be used to aid the 100 million children in the world who are currently without any form of education.
His big idea was to build a tower that was 15 Km tall. Supposedly this is technologically possible… the question would then be what uses could this tower be put to?
I went onto the site today and noticed that their promise of uploading more of the talks from the Solve For X Conference  had materialised. I watched the following talk by Nicholas Negroponte:
This is a powerful talk by a pioneer of making laptops accessible for the masses. In the later part of his talk he discusses his project to give laptops to communities which have no literacy whatsoever and then see if children can teach themselves to read! It reminded me very much of Sugata Mitra‘s “Hole In The Wall” experiment that he discussed in his TED Talk of 2008.
This is the kind of thing that Solve For X is about. I am really pleased to see that Google have sponsored this project and that there are already a number of interesting ideas to discuss and think about. It is important that technology is used to help humanity and help solve the many problems that we face now and in the future. Maybe this website might encourage some of our brighter young thinkers to think big about issues relating to our survival because there isn’t an App for that yet and there’s no point in playing an interactive game which sees our world crash and burn at the end!

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