Today kicks off the annual crowdsolving event, Solve at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), with speakers such as Alphabet's Eric Schmidt, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mozilla's Mitchell Baker coming together to help entrepreneurs tackle some of the world's most pressing challenges. In an exclusive interview for Inc., I caught up with Alex Amouyel who is executive director of MIT Solve and behind a smart new way to solve massive global problems from climate change and pollution to urbanization and poverty.
Here were the biggest talking points.
Age of Tech.
We've entered a new age of tech where data is the new oil, AI is the new electricity and the speed of change is awe-inspiring. Automation, machine learning, biotech and robotics are just some of the exponential technologies changing every facet of our lives and no industry or person will be left untouched from this age. And yet despite these tremendous advances in technology it seems to be at the expense of our planet and all of its natural resources. The numbers tell the story. Two hundred years ago we had a global population of 1 billion. Today it's 7.3 billion and is set to increase to 9.7 billion in 30 years. Last year was the hottest year on record with record global levels of carbon emissions and there are still over 1 billion people living without access to affordable, reliable energy. Amouyel says: "For today's global challenges, we need a completely new way to innovate and that's how Solve can help. It's open innovation at scale."
Solve was born out of MIT in 2015, a natural offshoot of MIT's commitment to open innovation. Amouyel says: "To realise the potential of open innovation, you need to start by asking the right questions, in an open way. What are the key challenges that communities face globally and locally? How can innovation address these challenges?" On March 1, Solve launched its four open Challenges: Coastal Communities, Frontlines of Health, Teachers & Educators, and Work of the Future. Solve's Global Challenges are open for anyone to apply until July 1. The Finalists will pitch their solutions on Sept 23, 2018, and the best 8-10 Solver teams per Challenge will be selected to pilot and implement their solutions.
Last year, a Solver class of 38 tech entrepreneurs was chosen from nearly 1,000 submissions, representing 100 countries. Emma Yang is one of Solve at MIT's most inspiring solvers. Yang (age 14) is the creator of Timeless, an app that eases the daily challenges that Alzheimer's patients face. After her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease,Yang drew from her passion for coding to figure out how to use AI and facial recognition to help her grandmother and others cope with the illness. She partnered with mentors at the tech company Kairos, which makes the facial recognition software that is now used by the app, and learned to code for the iPhone for the first time.
Today's problems can't be solved with yesterday's thinking. It's time for a huge mindset makeover and that starts with thinking bigger and bolder about some of biggest global challenges we face today. Don't respect tradition, respect innovation. And no matter where you are in the world, you can share your own story of solving. Post a photo of yourself on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #SolveAtMIT. Happy Solving.