Skip to content
Who's in the Video

Peter H. Diamandis

Peter H. Diamandis is the Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, which leads the world in designing and launching large incentive prizes to drive radical breakthroughs for the[…]

A conversation with the Chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation.

rnrn

Question: Why do you believe we have a moral imperative to go into space?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: If you stop and you thinkrnabout everything we hold of value on this planet, metal, minerals, energy, realrnestate, the things that nations fight wars over.  These things are in near infinite quantities out there.  If you believe that the developingrnworld deserves the same standards of living that we do in the developed world,rnthen to achieve that, they need resources.  They need the metals and the minerals to build thernindustries and the buildings and so forth, and the energy.  The question is, do you continue tornrape and pillage Earth, or if you have the ability to extract that informationrnfrom outside resources, outside of Earth, then that would be a mechanism tornuplift the bottom billion or so of society.  

rnrn

Thernother thing is that there’s a concept that a friend of mine, Elon Musk and Irntalk about; we’re backing up the biosphere.  Go back to ancient history when the libraries of Alexandriarnburned and all the knowledge was consumed in those flames.  Today, we have built this pinnacle ofrninformation, both in the biosphere encoded in the genomics of plants andrnanimals and the billions of species on this planet and in the Internet wherernwe’ve digitized languages, information, and images and so forth.  The right sized asteroid coming in tornsmack the Earth will destroy all of that. rnSo we have today, literally the technical capability to back up thernliving Earth, if you would.  Backrnup Gaia digitally and to go and sequence the genomes of, not billions, butrnmillions of species and take that information and duplicate it off thernplanet.  Such that if anything everrnhappened, it’s resident there and preserved forever.  That sort of capability comes with it a tremendous moralrnimperative in my mind of being able to implement this. 

rnrn

So,rnthose are some of the reasons; to uplift society and to backup thernbiosphere.  And the third and finalrnreason is it’s in our genome.  Wernare as humans an exploring species. rnWe began on the planes of Africa and our need to explore that took usrninto Europe, into Asia, and across the straights into the Americas, and sornforth.  That drive to explore isrnresident in our DNA.  In fact, it’srngenetically, if you would, selected for because those who explore and move outrnthe widest and furthest have the least chance of having their genome destroyedrnby a local accident.  And so thatrnis an evolutionary imperative.  Wernare not going to stop here on planet Earth.  We’re going to move out to other planetary bodies and Irnbelieve not going to into the planetary gravitational wells will buildrnsocieties in O’Neal-like spheres and humanity will move out into the cosmos andrnprobably meet other societies that have done the same in millennia and eonsrnpast. 

rnrn

Question: How will space exploration change human society?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: Something veryrninteresting has happened over the last hundred years that people don’t thinkrnabout which is that the frontiers that we have had started to shrink andrndisappear.  It used to be that 100rnor 150 years ago, if you screwed up, you fucked up literally in one area, yourncould go and start again someplace new. rnYou could go and start your life again without the stigma of whatrnhappened.  There is no place yourncan do that again.  There’s no realrnfrontiers. 

rnrn

Thernsecond thing about frontiers are; it allows the individuals who are best,rnwhether they’re men or women or minorities or whatever, to step to therntop.  So in traditional societies,rnold world societies, in the United Kingdom if you would; if you were born intornthe right stratus, the right class, you had the ability to succeed.  But if you weren’t, you were stuck.  And in the frontier, it didn’t matterrnwhat your birthright was, where you went to school, what you did.  If you were the best, people came tornyou.  So, that’s some of thernelements of a frontier.  Andrnfinally, in space what’s going to happen is the chance to truly explore inrndifferent societal structures, if you want to practice a pure capitalist state,rnor anarchy, or socialism, whatever it is, you can gather the people around yournwho you want to form that type of government and go and create your own spacernsociety on some colony and go and practice that.  And those who don’t like it can duplicate the genomics andrnthe knowledge systems of that colony and split and do it again.  There will be a Darwinian evolution ofrndifferent forms of society and different way of people trying it.  But go and try to start your ownrngovernment in the United States today and you’ll be squashed very quickly. 

rnrn

Question: Why is the government not working harder to open up this frontier?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: One of the precepts ofrnthe X Prize is you get what you incentivize; a very simple concept, but extraordinarilyrnpowerful.  And if you look to thernroot of what the problems are, you always find out, well we don’t incentivizernthat.  Well today what wernincentivize, we incentivize a Congressman being elected every two years, arnPresident being elected every four years, and a Senator every six years.  So, it’s what’s going to affect peoplernright now.  What can I promise andrndelivery in two years.  Space isrnnot a two-year objective.  It usedrnto be, in the early ‘60’s, we had this eye candy of Mercury and Gemini andrnApollo and every year we would do something more and more and it met thosernneeds.  But the easy stuff has beenrndone.  And today, NASA calls stuffrnnominal instead of phenomenal, like it really is.  So I have given up that there is going to be a balance andrnNASA is going to do certain things and we are finally in a state of existencernwhere small groups of individuals can do extraordinary things, funded by singlernpeople.  Today, a group of 20rnindividuals empowered by the exponential growing technologies of AI andrnrobotics and computers and networks and eventually nanotechnology can do whatrnonly nation states could have done before. 

rnrn

Wernsaw this in the first X Prize that we put together, the Ansari X Prize, where arnspaceship won built by a small team of 20 individuals, Scaled Composites, ledrnby Burt Rutan, funded by one individual, Paul Allen, did what only the UnitedrnStates government could have done 40 years earlier.  We see that more and more coming up.

rnrn

Question: What was it that first inspired you to create this prize?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: I’m a nine-year old kidrninside and my passion has been all my life to want to travel into space.  I drank that Kool-Aid and I got thatrnbug as a kid.  I saw Apollo goingrnon, on TV.  I was born in ’61, andrnI believed it was going to happen. rnI believed that once we got to the Moon, there was no stopping us.  But in fact, we did stop.  And it’s been literally 40 years sincernwe’ve been to the lunar surface. rnAnd I ended up realizing that NASA was unlikely to get me into space, orrnget me to the moon or beyond, and I needed some other way to drive this.  And I became very much, if I have torndescribe myself, I’m sort of a Libertarian Capitalist, and I was looking for,rnwhat’s the economic engine that’s going to drive us into space?  So, I received a book one day from arngreat friend of mine, Greg Marinak called, The Spirit of St. Louis, thatrntells the story of Lindbergh, and I had no idea that Lindbergh crossed thernAtlantic to win a prize.  I thoughtrnhe woke up one day and just decided to go east.  But in fact, there was this Frenchman born in Paris, came tornNew York with pennies in his pocket, Raymond Orteig was his name, became a busrnboy, moved up and eventually bought the hotel he worked at, started a secondrnhotel, and just after World War I, when aviation just started getting going, hernbecame enamored by this idea of aviation. rnHe decided to put up a prize for the first person that could go non-stoprnbetween his birthplace and his new home, in either direction.  But if you knew about the trade winds,rnyou’d go East. 

rnrn

Asrnit turned out, nine different teams from around the world, mostly the U.S.,rnmostly France, went after this. rnAnd the nine teams spend $400,000 to win this $25,000 prize.  Sixteen times the prize amount.  I went, oh my god.  I’m making notes in the margins aboutrnhow much money is being spent. rnAdmiral Byrd, the first guy to fly to the North Pole, for example,rnspends $100,000 to try to win this $25,000 prize and he crashes on takeoffrnbecause he overweighs his airplane with Champagne in China to celebrate when hernlands in Paris, as if there would be no Champagne in Paris when he getsrnthere.  And the most unlikely guyrnto do this, Charles Lindbergh, who had been flying the mail for just a handfulrnof years, makes this effort.  Nornone would sell him an airplane; no one would sell him an engine because he wasrnunproven.  Who is this guy?  I mean, for God sakes, we don’t knowrnwho he is.  He’s going to killrnhimself and set back aviation a decade. 

rnrn

Well,rnof course, he does just the opposite. rnHe makes the flight; 33 ½ hours later, he lands in Lebourget and hernbecomes famous overnight.  Andrnstill today, all school kids know his name.  But what hit me was not the efficiency of this prize, whichrnwas amazing, right?  You put uprn$25,000; you get $400,000 spent to win it.  But that within 18 months of Lindbergh making this flightrnacross the Atlantic, something miraculous happened.  We go from, in 1927 when there were 6,000 paying passengersrnin all of the United States.  Andrnpeople who flew in airplanes were called aeronauts and dare devils.  This is Eric Lindbergh, Charles’rngrandson.  He is a great friend onrnour Board of Trustees who tells us the story.  Went from being aeronauts and dare devils, 6,000 of them torn18 months later where they were passengers and pilots and there were 180,000 ofrnthem.  This 30-fold increase, thisrnprize caused this dramatic change in the paradigm.  And that inspired me to create the Ansari X Prize for spacernflight.  And so that’s how it gotrnstarted.

rnrn

Question: What fields have the potential to innovate with prizes?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: One of my goals is tornreinvent philanthropy.  Today,rnphilanthropy is a very unsophisticated, old world process where people who makerna shitload of money go and give it away and when they’re making their money,rnthey’re focused on 10x, 100x returns on the dollar.  Every dollar they use has got to be basicallyrnleveraged.  But then when they gornand they give the money away, they’re happy with 30 cents on the dollar, tenrncent – oh they really tried hard, too bad they didn’t do it.  That’s ridiculous.  You should command and demand the tenfoldrnleverage on your dollars when you give it away as well. 

rnrn

Sornwe look for areas that are stuck, where there’s a stigma, where there is –rnpeople have given up that there can be a solution for it.  You know, in the space business, spacernhad gotten very much to be the aerospace industry.  This is something that governments only do and it’s wherernthe Boeings and the Lockheed’s and the Northrop’s and so forth.  And there’s no way these smallrncompanies could do it.  Thernautomotive industry is the same way. rnSo, these industries have become old age and they’ve becomernossified.  They can’t innovaternthemselves out of a paper bag sometimes. rnThis is where putting up a clearly defined measurable prize that says tornthe world, “I don’t care where you’ve gone to school, what you’ve everrndone.  You do this and yournwin.”  And it brings reallyrnorthogonal thinking to the table. rnPeople who don’t have the degrees, people who would never get a NationalrnScience Foundation Grant because they don’t have the education or haven’t donernthe research, but they may have the most brilliant idea because they’re notrnstuck in the way they think. 

rnrn

Itrnwas Henry Ford who said, “An expert is someone who can tell you exactly howrnsomething can’t be done.”  And it’srntrue. 

rnrn

Question: What is the process by which you build the prizes?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: We bring prizes togetherrnin a number of different ways. rnFirst of all, we have our Board of Trustees who we built veryrncarefully.  It’s a large number ofrnreally self-made innovators; Larry Page, **** Camen, Elon Musk, Ratan Tata fromrnIndia, the Ansari family that funded our first Ansari X Prize are incrediblernindividuals.  And then we have ourrnVision Circle, which hare our largest benefactors.  These are individuals like Sergei Brendon and Eric Schmidt,rnagain the Ansari family.  And theserngroups, the Board of Trustees and our Vision Circle members get together twicerna year with us and we have a visioneering session and for two days we debaternand we discuss what are the world’s biggest problems.  Where are they stuck from diagnosing tuberculosis in threernhours in remote areas, to diagnosing cancer early, to mapping the ocean floor,rnto trying to deal with the ocean plastics issue, or reinventing education.  And we debate and we discuss what wouldrnmake a great X Prize. 

rnrn

Wernhave our X Prize labs.  We have anrnX Prize lab at MIT, at USC, at the University of Washington, and IIT,rnBombay.  And these are interdisciplinaryrngraduate level programs where young students that don’t know what’s notrnpossible come up and say, let’s create an X Prize around this area.  And then the staff, the senior staffrnthat really is constantly thinking, so whenever I’m meeting somebody, I’mrninterviewing them and saying, what do you think a great X Prize would be? Andrnbrainstorming it over lunch.  So,rnthat’s sources for ideas. 

rnrn

Question: Why does this prize mentality work so well?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: At the end of the day,rnthe people who end up funding our prizes are corporations andrnphilanthropists.  And they end uprnliterally, if you’re a venture capitalist, you’re interested in moving arntechnology forward.  You’ve got tornchoose your horse ahead of time. rnSo, if you’re interested in water technology, energy technology, you getrnto choose between the three or four companies that you have insight into.  And you have to make a bet on themrnbefore they prove anything out. rnAnd you don’t know about the other hundred out there that might havernmuch better technology.  And itrnseems really silly to me to do it that way. 

rnrn

Whenrnyou put up a large incentive prize, you get the entire world.  So it pulls out of the woodwork allrnhundred companies and you get to see them all.  And you automatically back the winner.  So, for me it’s a very logical, it’srnhighly leveraged, typically 10 to 50 fold the amount of money you put up, yourngot spent by the teams to win it. rnYou are creating brand new industry and you have full industryrninsight.  And in the winning of thernprize you create a brand new marketplace. rnInstead of just buying the product that you incentivized in the firstrnplace. 

rnrn

Yournknow, Paul Allen, who backed Burt Rutan in a recent interview with Dave Moore,rnwho ran Paul Allen’s venture here. rnDave said that Paul Allen invested somewhere between $20 and $30 millionrnand that he got probably 5 or 10x the money back by backing it in terms of thernlicensing rights and the tax deferrals and the technology they developed andrnthe media and so forth.  So, inrnthis time when money is tighter and tighter and tighter, we believe thatrnincentive prizes are extraordinarily efficient way for companies to drivernbreakthroughs in their industry. rnYou’ve got companies like Netflix, and Cisco and others creating incentivernprizes inside their company or in their area to drive.  You have to ask yourself the question,rndo you have the smartest people in the world working for your company?  And if you do, you’re lucky.  But if you don’t, put up thernincentive.  We get what wernincentivize and cast it out to the world. rnAnd have someone who is absolutely brilliant who’s a 22-year old inrnIndia who says what about this way? rnAnd who revolutionizes the way you do business. 

rnrn

Wernbecome stuck in the way we think. rnWe have to.  We as thernleader in the field has been doing what they do all of their lives.  And when someone comes through that isrndoing something that is extraordinarily risky, they have a lot to lose.  And so their willingness to take thernrisk is very low.  But when you bringrnpeople in who’ve got nothing to lose, they are literally willing to risk theirrnlives, that’s where breakthroughs come in.  The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it’s arncrazy idea.  So, the questionrncompanies have to ask, or governments have to ask is, where do we allow crazyrnideas to bubble up?  Because ifrnthere is a failure, what happens? rnSomeone gets blame.  There’srna lawsuit, there’s a congressional investigation.  And so, those things shut down the creative engine. 

rnrn

Andrnone of the people who I have a tremendous level of gratitude for and excitementrnabout is Ratan Tata, the Chairman of Tata Industries.  They give out an award every year for the team in theirrncompany that took the biggest risks. rnThat’s going to drive innovation. rnSo, you get what you incentivize, and I do believe that the best way tornpredict the future is to invent is yourself.  So, that’s what we do. rnWe drive people to invent the future they want to create byrnincentivizing it. 

rnrn

Question: How cheap do you think space travel can get, and how soon?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: One of the companies Irnco-founded is a company called Space Adventures.  And we are the only company, to date, to have flown peoplernprivately to space.  We have flownrneight passengers to the space station going up on the Soyuz.  Dennis Tito was our first, RichardrnGarriott who is the Chairman of Space Adventures and a trustee of the X PrizernFoundation for a second generation astronaut, and our latest was GilarnLaliberte, the Founder and CEO of Cirque Du Soleil.  These people spend about $45 million to go up for 10 days atrnthe space station; incredible experience. 

rnrn

Ifrnwe could buy a seat on the shuttle, which we cannot, the cost per seat isrnprobably $100 million on the shuttle. rnSo, the Soyuz is somewhat cheaper. rnIf you went and had a super efficient system, the closest you would everrnget down is probably in the $4 or $5 million per seat using existing propulsionrnsystems.  If your whole system isrnreusable and you flew it on a very frequent basis.  But if you go and you do the energy calculations of how muchrnit cost to put you and your space suit into orbit, high school physics studentrncan do this.  It’s easy, it’s massrntimes gravity, times height to get your potential energy, and then ½ MV2rnto get your kinetic energy.  And ifrnyou do that for you in a 200 kg spacesuit, it turns out the total energy spentrnover an hour is about 1.6 GJ.  Andrnif you bought this off the electric grid at 7 cents a kilowatt-hour, the costrnof getting you and your spacesuit into orbit is about $120.  So, the price improvement curve aheadrnof us is about $45 million to $100. rnThat’s a pretty big motivation. 

rnrn

Question: What are some key breakthroughs that we need right now? 

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: I’m not naïve enough tornthink that we’re not going to have amazing physics breakthroughs.  I mean, technologically, we’ve been arntechnological species for a hundred or 200 years depending on where you measurernthat.  So, I think there is much werndo not know.  But in the near term,rnI’m betting on a technology, which is very doable today.  In fact, I’m in the middle of talkingrnwith a number of benefactors about creating an X Prize around thisrnconcept.  It’s called beamed powerrnpropulsion.  And the concept is,rntoday rockets haven’t changed in the last 2,000 years, since early Chinesernrocketry.  You have a tube, yournburn something inside, and hot gases come out one end.  That’s – they’ve gotten bigger and morernexpensive and more elaborate, more efficient.  But they’re still the same basic concepts.  So, on of the X Prize ideas I’m excitedrnabout that I really want to have is called beam powered propulsion. 

rnrn

Thernway it works is you have a source of energy on the ground, either lasers orrnprobably microwaves.  And thatrnsystem is getting more and more efficient every year.  The price to generate a megawatt or a gigawatt of energy isrncoming down year after year.  We’rernlearning how to print it, make it more efficient.  And what you do is, you beam the energy to the rocket andrnthe rocket basically converts that energy to heat and heats up a working fluid,rnlike hydrogen, and then the hydrogen goes out the other end.  That can reduce the cost of spacernflight by 50 to100-fold, and it’s technology that can be done right now.  But no one’s doing it because no one’srndoing it.  And that’s where an XrnPrize really comes in if you can demonstrate something just enough. 

rnrn

Likernfor example, with the original Ansari X Prize for space flight, we demonstratedrna ship carrying three people up to 100 kilometers twice in two days and thenrnRichard Branson comes in and says I commit a quarter of a billion dollars torncommercialize that technology.  So,rnI’d love to demonstrate beam-powered propulsion.  And once that’s demonstrated enough, then new technologyrnwill come in. 

rnrn

Question: At which point does the prize end and the marketplace to drive thernidea begin?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: Every prize that werndesign has to meet certain attributes. rnNumber one, clear and measurable; three people 100 kilometers, 100 milernper gallon or its equivalent car with X parameters, sequence 100 human genomesrnin 10 days.  The second thing is itrnhas to be addressing a grand challenge. rnIt has to be something which it could have a paradigm change on the backrnend.  The third is, if it’srnproperly designed, when it’s won, the world is paying attention and it ignitesrna new industry.  For me, the factrnthat Branson was there committing the money and then all of a sudden peoplernstarted buying tickets.  There havernbeen over 1,000 tickets sold to fly into space, is what made this reallyrnexciting. 

rnrn

Yes,rnSpaceship One is hanging in the air at Space Museum, right above Apollo 11,rnnext to the Spirit of St Louis. That’s great, but the fact that we have anrnindustry going is what makes it awesome. 

rnrn

Anotherrnthing is, I am looking for prizes that are winnable in three to eight years inrnX Prizes.  If it’s less than threernyears, it was too easy, more than eight years; no one gives a shit anyrnmore.  The other thing though is wernare now creating something called X Challenges.  X Prizes are these bigger $10 million or more, the XrnChallenges are a million level prizes that are more winnable in a year or twornyears.  They’re about movingrntechnology forward in a demonstrable fashion. 

rnrn

Question: In terms of ground transportation, what are some game-changing ideasrnout there? 

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: The paradigm I want tornchange is that, you can have a car that is beautiful, manufacturable,rnaffordable, safe, fast, and oh, by the way, does 100 mpg, or its energyrnequivalent.  Why wouldn’t you?  So, we put out this competition.  We had 135, 136 vehicles registered torncompete.  We whittled it down notrnto 51 vehicles.  They’ll be a fewrnwinners, and at the end of this, besides having a few winners, three winners inrnparticular for the Progressive Automotive X Prize, my goal is there’s a newrngeneration of cars.  And people canrnsay we’re living in a new day and age. rnA new day and age of cars that are beautiful, affordable, safe, and ofrncourse every car gets over 100 mpg, why wouldn’t it. So, that’s a game changer,rna change in the paradigm, a change in the kind of cars that we drive. 

rnrn

Anotherrngame changer is another X Prize I am itching to get launched, and it is thernAutonomist Car X Prize.  I thinkrn100 years from now, people will look back and say, “Really?  People used to drive their cars?  What are they, insane?”  Humans are the worst control system tornput in front of a car. You know, we have these 100 mms delays, you know, ourrnattention is on our PDA, we’re always in a rush.  We drive around in these 4,000 pound metal wombs, thesern4,000 pound containment systems to protect us from these 6,000 pound cars fromrnsmacking us.  And you know, “I’mrngoing to buy a large SUV because I scared about the other SUV’s.  I’m not going to buy this small littlerncar.”  And of course, they’re rightrnin that regard.  But if we canrnbuild autonomous cars that are so smart, and so sensitive to what’s going onrnthat they can’t be hit, then you’re thinking.  When cars have the sensory systems around them, GPSrnintelligence, they’re looking at the world not only in visual spectrum, butrninfrared, ultraviolet and everything else that’s going on and they’ve gotrnreaction times in microseconds. rnNot a tenth of a second. rnThey’re a hundred thousand times faster.  Then you’re talking. 

rnrn

Threernthings come out of it.  Today,rnthere are about 2 million major injuries, 50,000 losses of lives in the UnitedrnStates alone.  You’ll get rid ofrnthose, first and foremost.  If yourncare about saving 50,000 lives, that’s one option. 

rnrn

Thernsecond thing is, cars will get a lot lighter because they’re not worried aboutrnit.  So, you don’t need 4,000rnpounds.  1,000 is plenty.  And if you’re carrying around – thernidea of a young thin woman who weighs 100 pounds driving herself around in arn4,000 pound SUV is laughable.  So,rnshe doesn’t need that.  A thousandrnpounds is plenty to give you all the the room and such.  So, you reduce the energy usage by arnlarge factor. 

rnrn

Andrnthe third is, all these autonomous cars know where all the other autonomousrncars are.  They can fan out andrnthey can take the most efficient route to get you from one place, and you’verngotten rid of traffic jams. rnEventually, frankly, no one’s going to own a car.  What you’re going to own is on yourrnPDA.  The ability to say, I need arncar from here to here and you can say, I need a car now, in which case they’llrncharge you a premium, or I’m willing to pay 50 cents for that drive, in whichrncase the car willing to take your 50 cents – or I need a Ferrari because I’m onrna date.  And you’ve got this pantiplea of cars that you can choosernfrom and you will own the ability to command transportation.  Not the need to have a car.  So, those are the futures there. 

rnrn

Question: What could the Federal Government be doing to advance this vision?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: The Department of Energyrnhas come on as a major partner for the Progressive Automotive X Prize and I amrnextraordinarily thankful to them for that.  I think that there’s a lot more that the government canrndo.  But it’s a start.  The idea of starting to envision thernrules and regulations to allow for autonomous cars is a hard one to thinkrnabout.  When I did the Ansari XrnPrize originally, the rules and regulations to allow for private space flightrndidn’t exist.  You could notrnlegally put a human and fly them into space.  In fact, you couldn’t bring a spaceship back.  All those spaceships we were sendingrncommercially into space were one way. rnYou sort of like, got rid of them. rnAnd most passengers, who go up, do want to come back down.  So, we had to go and change the rulesrnand regulations.  And the momentumrnof the competition allowed us to do that. 

rnrn

Irnimagined there would be new rules and regulations on the autonomous car XrnPrize.  And I didn’t mention whatrntwo of the ideas for the autonomous car X Prize.  One is the first car to win against a top seated NASCAR orrnIndy car driver.  So, it’s reallyrnthe deep blue equivalent from the chess world in the automotive space.  And the alternate would be the firstrncar to go autonomously from LA to New York in under three days, obeying all thernrules and regulations.  And I haverna heck of a time going through state lines and local police and all of that,rnbut – anyway, those are two concepts. rnLooking for, again, a dramatic demonstration of autonomy showing itselfrnto be far more safe than worrying about whether the person on the street nextrnto you is texting, or has had a drink, or is paying attention.

rnrn

Question: What could go wrong in our attempt to colonize elsewhere?

rnrn

Peter Diamandis: What can go wrong is thatrnwe can become landlocked.  One ofrnthe things that is going on right now is that we have this amazing debris cloudrnin space; orbital debris is what it is called.  Where you’ve had anti-satellite weapons blowing uprnsatellites, you have old satellites decommissioned and left in orbit and otherrnsatellites smacking into them.  Andrnevery time there is a collision, hundreds of parts break off.  And these components are traveling at 1,700rnmiles per hour so there much faster than a speeding bullet.  And there reaches a point at which allrnof this debris starts to grow exponentially and we will literally have this,rnwe’ll be locked in, or sending a spacecraft up to space to get through therndebris cloud will be taking your chances. rnSo, solving that is another X Prize that we’ve talked about. 

rnrn

Onernof the other major things, I think to really incentivize and open the spacernfrontier; we need to allow for ownership. rnYou know what opened up the American West?  It was the fact that you owned the real estate.  You owned the gold mines, the oilrnwells.  The creation of these, backrnthen, million dollar industries drove the railroads and eventually the airlinesrnto provide this kind of transportation. rnSo, I’m extraordinarily passionate, for example, about the idea ofrnasteroid mining in the future. rnAsteroids out there, we know them from those that have fallen on thernEarth, there is a class of asteroids, sub-class of nickel/iron asteroids, whichrnare 50,000 times more enriched than Platinum mines on earth.  Extraordinary wealth that can berncreated; the first trillionaire can be made in space.  The question is, do we have the structure to allow for thernownership of these?  If we do, orrnwhen it’s finally created, we will have really, the impetus the real marketrncreation that will cause billions to be invested privately in spacerntransportation to gain access to the trillions that are out there.

Recorded on January 26, 2010

Interviewed by Paul Hoffman

rnrnrnrnrn