Google's latest offering has more to do with science fiction than search.
The web giant announced the launch of a new forum called Solve for X that is dedicated to probing "technology moonshots." These are efforts, according to Google, that "take on global-scale problems, define radical solutions to those problems, and involve some form of breakthrough technology that could actually make them happen."
"Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; they are 10x improvement, not 10%. That's partly what makes them so exciting," Google wrote in a blog post announcing the Solve for X "experiment."
A technology moonshot could be an innovation that makes plants more productive, improves access to fresh water, or takes images of the mind's eye. "Moonshots can come from anywhere--people of all ages and places, companies, academia, inspired experts, enthusiastic newcomers, and often from accidental discoveries," Google notes.
Solve for X now exists online (See: WeSolveforX.com, which launched on Monday), but it originated offline as a three-day event for a select group of fifty people co-hosted last week by Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt at the dreamy CordeValle Resort in San Martin, California.
The Solve for X gathering, a "forum to encourage and amplify technology-based moonshot thinking and teamwork," sounds more than a little like the annual TED conference that attracts Silicon Valley technorati and focuses on "ideas worth spreading," albeit Google's is even more exclusive (so about that "spirit of openness...").
TED posts TED Talks from its invitation-only conference on the web, and the videos feature speakers ranging from street artist JR to Anthony Atala, a researcher exploring ways to print and grow organs.Google's Solve for X is also posting Solve for X Talks (yes, they're also called "Talks") from its invitation-only event on the web, and the videos feature speakers ranging from novelist Neal Stephenson to InCube Labs CEO Mir Imran, who is exploring ways to improve drug therapy delivery.
The content of the lectures must satisfy three critera: "Does it highlight a huge problem?", "Is there a concrete solution that could make a radical impact?" and "Does it explain breakthrough science and technology that could enable this solution?"
Google says Solve for X is open to featuring your moonshot thinking, too, but don't expect it to be as easy as uploading a video to YouTube. See the steps required to submit your own video on Google+ by checking out the "Engage" page on the Solve for X site.