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Solve for X: Google’s TED to Solve Global Problems?

By Rohit Ramesh on Saturday 21st of Jul 2012

A couple of months ago, Google quietly launched a new platform whose thoughts quickly faded from everyone’s mind. In fact, few people even know about it’s existence. Enter, Solve for X. This platform can be very well called Google’s attempt at a TED.

What is Solve for X?

Solve for X is a place to hear and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems. Radical in the sense that the solutions could help billions of people. Radical in the sense that the audaciousness of the proposals makes them sound like science fiction. And radical in the sense that there is some real technology breakthrough on the horizon to give us all hope that these ideas could really be brought to life. 

This combination of things – a huge problem to solve, a radical solution for solving it, and the breakthrough technology to make it happen – is the essence of a moonshot. 

There you go. This is where Google separates itself from TED. Solve for X has it’s prime focus on technology ideas. Okay fine, but isn’t that TED? Well, what Google wants is to use these ideas for Solving Global Problems. Seems very “Saint like” of Google, but nonetheless this is a very important step undertaken, especially in today’s times.

Solve for X talk

As Google says,

There are three important questions that distinguish a Solve for X talk.

  • Does it highlight a huge problem?
  • Is there a concrete solution that could make a radical impact?
  • Does it explain breakthrough science and technology that could enable this solution?

Not anyone can simply post a lecture on their topic or issue of concern. There are certain guidelines to be followed else your talk is simply disqualified. Nevertheless, the guidelines mentioned pretty much make sure your talk is worth listening to (nobody wants to listen to a disorganised talk).

“It was a great brain spa, like TED, but much more tech-intense,” Jurveston said in a message to Mashable. “Some of the speakers would be great for TED.”

Okay, I’m listening. So how do I join this?

Google has a G+ discussion board for Solve for X. You can simply add “We Solve For X” to your circles and be updated with the latest projects and discussions. You can then talk to like-minded people, interact with them directly and comment on the projects and discussions. Also, you can start your own project, post your own ideas.

We Solve for X on Google+

Alternatively, you can head over to the official website and watch talks on latest topics such as “Higher Education Impact” or “Agricultural Productivity” or “Global Water Scarcity” now.

We Solve for X Official Website

So where is Solve for X headed?

Google clearly hasn’t been pushing the platform hard enough. Even after months after it’s launch, there’s barely any publicity, and public awareness is extremely low for the projects to truly reach out to the crowd. After all, that’s what it is about. Noble and good deeds can be achieved on a greater scale with greater participation, the latter being the lacking point here. Nevertheless, this platform is amazing at what it does, and we can only hope Google makes it more popular for the general consensus to become aware of it.

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