The project started as an experimental event in February last year, where 46 scientists, entrepreneurs and innovators from across the world convened to discuss how breakthrough technologies could be used to solve massive issues such as climate change, cancer and global hunger.
It’s an idea that resonates with Google’s own CEO Larry Page, who in a profile interview with Wired discussed why it was important for him to focus on technology moonshots.
Co-created by Astro Teller and Megan Smith, with the help of Eric Schmidt and their own team which includes Will Patrick, Lisa Jiang, Merci Niebres and Tara Vega – they’ve now updated the website to make it even simpler to suggest and contribute to these groundbreaking ideas.
To begin with, it’s now possible for anyone to submit an idea on the website, whether it’s a very early project, something you’re already developing or want someone else to pick up. Once you’ve signed up for an account – it’s easy enough just to use your Gmail or Google+ profile – the submit button in the top right-hand corner can be used to embed a video from YouTube, along with the speaker’s name and any relevant organisations behind it.
Google says it will review all submissions within 48 hours and if they agree that it’s a good idea, they’ll publish it as a moonshot proposal on the website to be “evaluated and discussed by the Solve for X community.”
Solve for X is an appealing platform because it promotes communication and collaboration. Working in isolation can often feel like a fruitless endeavor, so hearing back from peers and other passionate entrepreneurs can make the difference between pressing on and throwing in the towel.
Google has therefore set up a community section, which at the moment only lists user profiles that are actively supporting or involved with a moonshot idea. These then link through to the moonshot videos themselves, where users can rate them based on whether they help a large number of people, solve the relevant issue or use a piece of innovative technology.
There doesn’t appear to be anywhere you can leave comments on the website though, which is a notable omission given the project’s emphasis on discussion. It’s always possible to go through to the YouTube page and comment where the video has been uploaded, but that sort of defeats the point.
Google has announced that a number of new partners have jumped on board since Solve for X’s conception, including X PRIZE, GE FOCUS FORWARD, TED, MIT Technology Review, Singularity University, and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination.
The search giant says that if there are any talks from their events and programs that share Google’s moonshot ethos, they’ll be cross-linked and hosted on the Solve for X website. A significant number have already been shared, including The Invisible Bicycle Helmet, Solar Roadways and Bio-Integrated Electronics.