Peter Diamandis, “Long-term X Prizes”

Posted on Monday, September 15th, 02008 by Stewart Brand
link Categories: Seminars   chat 0 Comments

Peter Diamandis

Beyond Audacious

Pursuing the idea of “revolution through competition” via huge-purse prizes was inspired for Peter Diamandis by reading about the Orteig Prize. In 1927 $25,000 was offered to the first person to fly non-stop from New York to Paris. Nine teams spent $400,000 in the competition. A 25-year-old named Lindbergh won the prize. Within 18 months air passengers had multiplied 30-fold from 6,000 to 180,000, the number of aircraft increased four-fold, and aviation stocks soared.

A lifelong space nut, Diamandis created out of thin air the Ansari X Prize. $10 million would go to the first team to make a 3-person reusable space vehicle that could reach 100 kilometers in altitude twice in two weeks…

Read the rest of Stewart Brand’s Summary

  • Rather than pick my top three, I would like to order them into categories. At the same time, I’ve listed my categories and items in the order in which I think we need them to happen.

    Humane Life
    * Babelfish – Instant universal translator (It’s easy and makes everyone more valuable. Has to be a Mobile App)
    * Eradicate Hunger for > 90% of the human population (must happen soon, very doable with a nudge)
    * Eradicate poverty for > 90% of the human population
    * Carbon Sequestration: Create an economic device to extract/sequester carbon from the atmosphere (easier than most of these, but people need more incentives to do this.)
    * Develop a teaching system that allows an increase in learning rates by an order of magnitude.

    Body and Mind
    * Cure for AIDS
    * Organ Replacement
    * Brain to brain communication that are more than 10x the speed of audio conversations
    * Develop real-time collective consciousness for a group of over 100 people
    * Create an AI that can engage and educate children to their highest potential (I’d much rather see the collective consciousness thing happen before this.)
    * Longevity: Double the length of the healthy human lifespan
    * First brain transplant: full functioning of memory and motorfunction and lives > 1 day
    * Vision Restoration: Wire up a false eye for a blind person to gain 20:20 vision
    * Download brain to a computer with all memory intact

    * Robot Sports: (1) beat Tiger; (2) beat a championship soccer team; (3) beat a Formula-1 team (It is unfortunately the best way to make the most headway on these others, and this would garner sooo much support and enthusiasm.)
    * Self-replicating (non-biological) machines
    * Replicator: create out of energy and raw materials anything.
    * Flying cars (This will essentially boil down to AI for collision avoidance, navigation and ease of use for the masses. That’s the only thing that will make it a car and not a plane.)
    * Cancer: Be able to detect any cancer at the 100-cell stage and Zap-it
    * Artificial Intelligence: Build a machine that passes the Turing Test (This is going to be hard to pass, because the parameters get wider and wider.)

    * Humans in Deep Ocean : 3 people to ocean bottom twice in 3 days.
    * Apollo 8: Privately fly 1 person around the moon and safely back to Earth.
    * Hot Fusion — Sustained, net-energy positive
    * Energy Extraction – e.g. ZeroPoint ; Cold Fusion
    * First Baby Born off Earth
    * Private, fully-reusable, Orbital Spaceship
    * Human to orbit for 1 hour / >1 day notice (google could do this by applying the same amount of time they’ve devoted to Google maps for Mobile)
    * Image 100% of the Ocean Floor (Google will do it or get someone else to do it via a G-Prize)
    * Backup the Biosphere: Create a data backup of the internet and the top 10,000 species on Earth (G-Prize)
    * SETI – Proof of extra-terrestrial intelligence (If there’s something out there, the only way we can have an intelligent conversation is for them to come to us. Turing test indeed.)

    * Energy collecting Robot aphids: wind, solar, bacteria, pharmaceutical
    * Robot-harvested eco-reserves
    * Solar to sugar faster
    * Buildings that grow
    * Living, fibrous waterlines that move and filter water through capillary action

    I’d love to be on a team, somebody, please.

  • I think this is a great idea.

    I have to say, though, that many of these seem frivolous when juxtaposed in this way. For instance, would you rather have flying cars or eradicate poverty for > 90% of the human population? Send people to the bottom of the ocean, or cure AIDS?

  • I like the idea of offering incentives for people to achieve defined outcomes. My Social Policy Bond idea ( is similar. It allows tradability of the right to win a fraction of a prize. With tradability it becomes more feasible to target very long-term goals, like the eradication of 90 percent of poverty, or the stabilizing of the world’s climate. That’s because if a goal simply becomes more likely, the value of the bonds rises and investors can sell their bonds to people ready to take on the next stage of achieving the goal.

  • thanks, nice blog

  • Fantastic idea, if only because it gets everyone (potentially) involved in working at solving the great humanitarian & technological challenges of the day! :)

  • Joel Thomas

    Here’s my two cents . . . equating most important roughly with most likely & most directly to produce all the others:

    Babelfish, >90% out of poverty (though argueably this cant be done if most are hungry), Teach Children to their highest Potential. Its REALLY hard not to choose Cure AIDS, Tool to increase learning potential by order of magnitude, or Cold Fusion somewhere in there.

    Just for my personal taste:
    Babelfish, Brain Download, Collective consciousness.

    I add/modify:
    infallibly accurate memory reader
    “lost” memory retrieving machine
    talk to the animals / understand Dolphin language- have conversation wherein Dolphin contributes original content
    Biodegrading regimen for existing plastics
    Wonkavision- teleport inanimate object >1kg, >1km

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  • Fantastic info. i will definitely visit again.

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