Live Blogging OG09: Wired and the X Prize on the Future of Green Tech

Posted on 08. Nov, 2009 by in Design & Culture

At the one of the first breakout sessions of Day Two, Alexis Madrigal demonstrated how technology and society shape each other, and how what is and isn’t inevitable isn’t inevitable, and never was.

Examples of technology from 1857, 1907 and 1957 illuminated Madrigal’s thesis, including solar power stations from 1907. The examples highlighted his final conclusion: that clean technology and clean energy can develop inevitability without, for example, immediate price competitiveness with dirtier technologies. Why? Because of other factors, especially the interest in technologies among society as a whole.

X Prize

Representing those factors, in particular, the X-factor, Keith Kegley from the X Prize Foundation explained how prizes and contests inspire innovation. Keith harked back to Charles Lindbergh, who flew across the Atlantic in part to win the $25,000 Orteig prize. The year he flew, 6,000 people bought airplane tickets. The following year, 180,000 did.

The foundation is inspiring similar economic transformations. The original $10 million X-Prize, for a vehicle that could bring 3 people up into orbit and back twice in two weeks, was won in 2004. Today, there is a $1 billion private spaceflight industry.

Check out Opp Green’s interview with the X Prize chairman, Peter Diamandis.

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