We need a Climate Change Design Challenge Forum
Scary Idea: Technology learns 10,000 times faster than you do (according to John Smart of the Acceleration Studies Foundation).
For example, the silicon chip industry has remained consistent with Moore’s Law, doubling almost 30 times the concentration of transistors per chip per $1000 since its invention. That means that today’s chip is about 10 billion times better than it was 50 years ago.
Since we designed our technology to get us into this ever-increasing climate disaster, maybe we should start designing our technology to get us out of it. So how do we do that? We start by specifying what is needed. Industry calls such specifications design challenges. They usually seek them out on their own, but we need solutions faster. So let’s start collecting and voting on the best ideas for improving the situation.
There are a few advantages for the marketplace specifying what is needed. One is that the design challenges remain in the public space. Patents won’t keep other companies, governments and individuals from coming up with new, better solutions. And solutions can be low budget enough to be accessible to the poor and developing country populations.
Another advantage would be shifting of some of the market research out of the hands of the short-term profit oriented corporations and into the hands of the community. We can ask for solutions that won’t be huge sellers in Walmart in the next quarter. (See Chris Anderson’s notions on ‘the Long Tail’ and ‘Free’ –
Our technology development cycles will seek to solve these design challenges, treating the victims of the unresolved issues as an unserved market eager for a solution in the form of a product or service. Why? Because these are ripe market opportunities. As Vinod Khosla, the founder of Sun Microsystems and Khosla Ventures said, “No one will pay you to solve a non-problem.” “Every big problem is a big opportunity.”
(video clip: http://edcorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=26)
A third advantage is that the community would do it’s own marketing for the best solutions. A voting process would show companies and inventors both what the solutions were the most demanded (what they should be working on) and which solutions were the best (how each solution performs). This would encourage industry, technologists, and Do-It-Yourself types to design better solutions faster.
Google has made something of a start along this process. Their “10ToThe100” contest (which just stopped accepting submissions, dammit!) is looking for the best ideas based upon how many would be helped. They are in a narrowing phase right now and will offer the 100 best ideas for public voting on Jan. 27th. So make sure you vote.
I missed the deadline, so I will post a few of my ideas over the next few days. And I make no apologies if they are a bit out of reach of current technology. Remember these are design challenges, and technology is a fast learner.
References & Inspirations:
~ Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School, Author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, and Disrupting Class
Book purchase: The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book that Will Change the Way You Do Business (Collins Business Essentials)
The Innovator’s Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth
Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns
~ John Smart of the Acceleration Studies Foundation
~ William McDonough of William McDonough + Partners, McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), and author of Cradle to Cradle
Book purchase: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things
~Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems and Khosla Ventures
video clip: http://edcorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=26
~ Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, author of The Long Tail and Free (being published in ’09… for FREE!)
Book purchase: Long Tail, The, Revised and Updated Edition: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More