The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.
Dr. Peter Diamandis, Co-Founder, Singularity University
Many of us can remember the U.S. Apollo Program that sent a crew of three people up into space for the first lunar landing. This was the fulfillment of President Kennedy’s commitment in 1961 to land a man on the moon before the decade was out. In July 20, 1969, it actually happened.
For most of humanity’s history, the thought of doing this was all but impossible. Even though the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had developed jet aircraft, no one was confident of sending a rocket straight up for 186,000 miles, let alone achieving a soft landing with an actual human being.
In the 1960’s, it took the U.S. a massive commitment of thousands of engineers and billions of dollars. But the investment was worth it. The moon landing was a landmark for all humanity, past, present and future.
Today, you can have your own moonshot, and it need not cost a fortune. After all, the smart phone in your pocket has more computing power than all of NASA enjoyed for the Apollo Program.
A moonshot is any dramatic achievement that appears all but impossible and positively impacts the whole world. It has historically been the prerogative of only the military, government or multinationals.
Dr. Peter Diamandis of Singularity University gave a practical definition tailored for the individual. Identify a “grand challenge” that can impact one billion people and solve it within 10 years. It can be initiated by a single person, who can establish a mastermind and rally support from around the world. Key is to leverage the Internet and mobile devices.
While Dr. Diamandis is exceptionally brilliant, having multiple advanced degrees, having won countless prizes and having started 15 companies, he is utterly convinced that anyone with sufficient vision and commitment can pull this off. That, in fact, is the whole objective of the University he started with Dr. Ray Kurzweil.
If you want to change the world, the best way is to take on a “Grand Challenge” that could make a massive difference. For example, a friend of mine from Pakistan plans to end illiteracy there and around the world. He has a brilliant approach to this leveraging smart phones, YouTube and Facebook.
This should be the global issue that speaks most directly to you, whether it is climate change, religious-sanctioned violence, hunger, poverty or spiritual emptiness. In the 1990’s, I had a passion to end the destruction of the tropical and temperate rainforests. Today, my passion is to create a world where nobody ever kills again in the name of God.
Look at what is happening in the world, study the major issues and welcome them. Great entrepreneurial ventures, whether social or commercial in nature, are based on a problem that people are highly motivated to resolve. No problem, no opportunity. The more problems, the more opportunities. Today, we have plenty of opportunities, which 30 minutes of any newscast will reveal. It could be something as mundane and beneficial as a global recycling program that would take all the junk off the sidewalks and roads.
The next step is to do your research on Google, social media and your own inner circle. Suppose, for example, that, like Dr. Diamandis, Elon Musk and Sir Richard Branson, you dream of going into outer space. Your grand challenge might be to travel to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, 4.3 light-years away. At 186,000 miles per second, you will need to have a pretty fast rocket to get there in under a decade! The best we can do today is 36,000 miles per hour.
You research what types of technologies could dramatically improve our sustainable speed. For example, atomic-powered vessels come to mind. Other sources of energy are now being researched. Dr. Michio Kaku, a physicist who is willing to step out on a limb suggests we could theoretically reach one-third the speed of light.
If you closely study the New Paradigm, and the latest thinking in quantum field theory, nonlocality keeps recurring, as it has successfully been demonstrated in the laboratory.
If you separate two particles to opposite sides of the universe, their spins will stay correlated faster than the speed of light. Would it be possible for a rocket to become “nonlocal” and re-enter locality in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri?
The next step is to go exponential in your thinking. Everyone in business is looking for incremental improvements, say 10% to 20% per year. That looks good to large enterprises. Instead, go orders of magnitude greater. Think 10x, 100x, 1,000x.
For example, if a rocket company can create a vehicle that goes 30,000 miles per hour, create a vehicle that can go 300,000 miles per hour, or even 3 million miles per hour. Then it becomes interesting! Your first reaction will be that this is clearly impossible. However, is anyone thinking about it and working on it? At this point, you might want to go to a major research university and meet with various physics professors.
When you go exponential, you differentiate yourself from the pack. Often, you will have no real competition, as no one is crazy enough to openly embrace that objective. Consider that the first men to ride in an airplane were bicycle merchants who flew off the ground in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Imagine flying when only gods and goddesses had ever done that before. How amazing!
After this, you need to address the commercial side. If you don’t gather the finances and broadbased support, you may never succeed in fulfilling your dream, no matter how noble your intentions. It need not be your money, but it will be somebody’s money.
A simple way to win at this is to identify a way to make a process faster, better or cheaper. The classic example is digital cameras, where you can shoot picture after picture with no expensive film to process. Without the lab, you can push images out in real-time as you take them. Ultimately, you can make better pictures than even the most expensive professional camera.
With high technology, processes in every industry are being transformed to go faster and cheaper. In many cases, the end product is even better. Just imagine the quality of Apple’s iPhones. They even manufacture their own chips for optimal performance.
Your great ally in this whole process will be the digital world. Almost anything can be digitized. Apple has produced classroom software where you can make gorgeous books with photos and moving videos with animation. For example, you can see an insect close up in your digital notepad. The resolution is stunning. You can peel away layer after layer and turn the bug around 180 degrees.
When you go digital on any process, you become highly disruptive. You can go faster, cheaper and better than even the multinationals. For example, 3D printing is now as easy as laser and inkjet printing were. Advanced applications of it include manufacturing human tissues for surgery!
When you digitize and disrupt, the price falls. More and more people can afford it. The innovation democratizes. For example, Apple’s Garage Band lets you assemble a jazz ensemble, rock group or even symphony orchestra. It provides you your choice of rhythm. You can edit the melodies and even print out the music. You can then deliver your score to a symphony conductor. He or she might even give you the time of day!
If we look back at history, we see how moonshots have accelerated as we get closer to the present. Around 500 B.C., the Buddha invented enlightenment. Today, people all around the world practice mindfulness. In the First Century, Christ introduced the idea of loving your enemies in His Sermon on the Mount. Today, people all around the world pray for the troublemakers among us. Most people no longer respect or admire hatred.
As we get closer to the present, we need think only of Gandhi, who, thrown off a train in South Africa, vowed to establish an empire of human dignity. Fifty years later, Gandhi succeeded in bringing independence to India; he brought down the entire British empire in the process!
If we think of the 1980’s, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were locked in a futile Cold War that consumed billions of dollars. President Reagan stood his ground, convinced it didn’t have to be that way. Then General Secretary Gorbachev emerged who really knew how to negotiate. We saw glasnost and perestroika. Soon after, relations between the two nations normalized.
Finally, if we think of President Clinton and Al Gore, along with executives in Silicon Valley, such as James Clark and Marc Andreesen of Netscape, they successfully evangelized the “national superhighway.” At the time, we relied mostly on copperwire. In just two decades, the entire globe was united with interactive communications. Now you can conduct a videoconference around the world while walking down the street, all with your iPhone or Android.
Perhaps Dr. Diamandis is right. Perhaps any of us can create our own moonshot. If this is true, would you be willing to settle for any other life objective?
The world is calling you. Are you online?