Yesterday we ran a news item on Google's mysterious Solve for X website. Now the mystery is solved and we know what it is all about.
Google does seem to have ambitions to challenge TED, but perhaps in a smaller and more upmarket sort of club. It seems that "Solve for X" was an exclusive conference organized by Google with "experienced entrepreneurs, innovators and scientists from around the world". The idea was to talk about solutions to world problems:
These are efforts that take on global-scale problems, define radical solutions to those problems, and involve some form of breakthrough technology that could actually make them happen. Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; they are 10x improvement, not 10%. That’s partly what makes them so exciting.
So this is exactly what we need - another talking shop.
Google intends to publish videos from the conference over the next few weeks. At the time of writing there are seven. The format is very similar to that of TED - basically the videoed "stand up lecture". If you are even slightly up-to-date with what is going on, then nothing here will come as a huge shock. One difference is that the talks seems to be targeting an audience of experts in other fields rather than the intelligent lay person.
A particularly good and relevant example is the talk by Adrien Treuille about getting people to solve problems using games and the problems of big data:
This talk describes Foldit and EteRNA, a series of remarkable new scientific discovery games Adrien Treuille 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?
Take a look at the video for yourself:
Another video that is particularly relevant is Imaging the Minds Eye by Mary Lou Jepsen on how being able to read users' minds might change more than just computing:
Other videos that you will find at the site include:
Global water shortage, Resource Reclamation, Drug delivery and storytelling.
It is depressing that Google seems to be funding a talking shop while cutting support for practical projects such as App Inventor, Sky Map and more.