"I define an expert as someone who can tell you exactly how something can’t be done," says X Prize founder and Chairman Peter Diamandis. After all, if Diamandis had sought out the opinions of the industry dinosaurs in the space industry, would there ever have been a successful manned commercial space flight?
In order to make radical breakthroughs, you need to ask the right questions of the right experts.
This is also one of the lessons laid out in the technology historian George Dyson's new book Turing's Cathedral, which tells the origin story of the digital universe, which Dyson locates in "the physical realization of Alan Turing's Universal Machine, a theoretical construct invented in 1936."
A small team at Princeton built the first electronic digital computer in less than five years for under one million dollars. While no one may be able to accurately predict what will happen in the farthest reaches of our digital universe of the future, the key to innovation can be found in this humble origin story.
According to Dyson, a small group of engineers was left to its own creative devices, and they changed the world. Today, more than ever, small groups of people can create breakthrough innovations that were once only thought to be made possible by governments and large corporations. Or maybe, as Dyson's book suggests, the small group environment was always the ideal breeding ground for innovation.