Reading time: 4 - 6 minutes
Video Time: 55 minutes 17 seconds
Peter Diamandis (@PeterDiamandis on Twitter) is the founder and chairman of the X Prize Foundation, which is a nonprofit institution that organizes public competitions aimed at promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. In this lecture, Diamandis speaks at MIT about technological change and the power that we have to enact that change. One of the most prevalent themes of the lecture is space exploration, and Diamandis asserts it is something we need to make a priority if we want to see scientific progress. As Diamandis touches on the history of space exploration and our first attempt to the moon, he declares that the reason we were able to achieve this goal was due to the belief that anything is possible. He states enthusiastically throughout the lecture that this belief is absolutely necessary for invention.
Diamandis explains in detail the Ansari X Prize, which was a competition that offered $10,000,000 to the first private organization that could build a reusable spacecraft and launch it twice in two weeks. The prize was won in 2004 by the team Tier One, with a spacecraft designed by Burt Rutan (Link is to a TEDtalk) called SpaceShipOne. Diamandis plays a video for the audience that highlights the journey of those involved in the Ansari X Prize. It’s incredibly inspirational, and depicts all the work, thought, and innovation that was stimulated by the project across the globe.
Diamandis explains the foundation’s new efforts towards promoting business and technology, and the goals of the foundation to continue to spur radical discoveries and breakthroughs in science. Diamindis explains that the X Prize Foundation is about inspiring humankind and “creating heroes.” He states that by putting a prize out there, it encourages people to believe that a solution or an invention is possible.
Diamandis describes how new prizes are being offered by both his foundation and by NASA, and that these could bring about “private races to the moon.” He continually emphasizes the importance of creating new industries, and discusses future X Prize possibilities in things like genetics, environment, energy, and education. He urges us to challenge ourselves and to take on “crazy ideas,” and calls on entrepreneurs to take those risks that are necessary for breakthroughs and radical change. He stresses the importance of promoting people to compete, and using this competition to make the world a better place. At on point in the lecture Diamandis asks the audience who thinks that in their lifetime they will have the chance to go to space, pretty much everyone raises their hands, and Diamandis declares that this is what’s most important; the belief is what makes things happen.
In 2007, the X Prize Foundation organized the Google Lunar Prize (@glxp on Twitter), which is still up for grabs. It’s another space exploration competition, and the goal is for a private organization to travel to, land on, and explore the surface of the moon. For more information on the X Prize Foundation, check out their website at www.xprize.org.
Enjoy, and happy learning!