How to innovate? Be fearless
October 26th, 2011
07:06 PM ET

How to innovate? Be fearless

Peter Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE, believes there is about to be a revolution in how we innovate.

Diamandis has been instrumental in that revolution by offering monetary incentives for people to solve the world's problems, from spaceflight to oil spill cleanups. Wednesday, he announced the launch of the $10 million Archon Genomics X PRIZE presented by Medco.

Teams have 30 days to sequence the whole genome of 100 subjects for $1,000 or less per genome. It has to be pretty precise: The error rate can't be greater than one per 1 million base pairs. And the people who are giving over their DNA to this project are all centenarians - people 100 years old or more - so the results may help further the study of longevity.

"The intelligence is out there. If you’ve got a clearly defined problem, you can put it out there to solve," Diamandis said at TEDMED  onWednesday.

In his talk, Diamandis discussed some of the innovations that are changing our world and some of the factors in creating them.

For instance, at the rate technology is going, the average $1,000 laptop is going to calculate at the rate of the human brain by 2023. By 2050 it will calculate at the rate of the entire human race.

If you saw WATSON's performance on Jeopardy, you know that artificial intelligence is already beating out humans on certain measures. With cloud computing, we will be able to harness this kind of power on our cellphones, from anywhere in the world. And robots are becoming more humanlike in their abilities, too, which Diamandis predicts will increasingly help assist the aging population. And 3-D printers are making it possible to build complex structures, even organs, anywhere you want.

"The folks who will truly innovate are those who do not have fear," he said.

A population of new (younger) minds, who are more fearless than older people, can innovate when equipment becomes cheap, he said. So why does more funding at the National Institutes of Health go to people over 70 than under 30, Diamandis wonders.

Cheaper tablets and cellphones are enabling a broad population globally to come together and aggregate and exchange ideas. There will be about 3 billion additional people who will gain Internet access by 2020.

"The tools of innovation are being drastically democratized as technology comes online," he said. "The global community can innovate in a way like never before. You get what you incentivize."

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    When you live in fear your time horizon shrinks making it difficult to plan very far into the future. The same is true about living under stressful conditions, being hungry or being ridiculed. All of these factors can be helped by reducing wealth disparity. We would have smarter, more innovative people if we just taxed the rich more.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.