Serial entrepreneur Peter Diamandis is optimistic and ambitious, even by the standards of tech-can-fix-everything Silicon Valley. He thinks believing the world is headed anywhere other than an era of abundance where all have access to first world-grade resources is foolish. Technological advances--artificial intelligence, developments in diagnostic technology, access to previously inaccessible resources--all this means people can accomplish more than ever before, with less than ever was needed.

These views are extreme, but for Diamandis, that's kind of the point. He thinks he knows better than what cable news or other media would have you think. "I look at the data and I try not to watch the news," Diamandis, who founded the X Prize foundation, told an audience of about 50 business people at his organization Singularity University earlier this week.

He shared with the audience his three moonshot ideas in areas where he thinks great advances can be made if only people adopt hyper-ambitious--some would say magical--thinking.

Extending the healthy human lifespan

Diamandis has a personal goal of living a multi-hundred-year lifespan, but his goal for longevity extends beyond his own physiology. He believes a combination of large amounts of health data and machine learning technology to aid in analysis of that data can lead to longer lives for humans in general. To that end, Diamandis co-founded tech company Human Longevity Inc., aimed at compiling a comprehensive database of genetic and clinical information. The idea is to link DNA information about patients to health data with goals including predicting health risks. "What we're doing is we're building the capability to digitize you," said Diamandis.

Expanding humanity's access to resources

Space drones mining asteroids for minerals and other resources. Drones and satellites mapping the Earth's agricultural systems to predict yields, and providing insight into energy production through keeping an eye on facilities like oil refineries. Devices that map the ocean's floor. Diamandis thinks there's a lot out there we're not taking advantage of, and technology can help us find it.

Addressing the world's grand challenges

Diamandis is of the belief that the current era stands out from periods in the past. One key reason, he said, is that entrepreneurs have more power than ever to take on the world's problems. Through the X Prize foundation, initially launched to promote private space travel, he hopes to fund ambitious projects of all kinds, from diagnostic devices to innovations in education. "I don't know how to build a spaceship, but I can crowdsource that," he said--and other feats can similarly be accomplished through teamwork enabled by technology.

Published on: May 4, 2016