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What is Google's Solve for X?

Learn about the Google initiative, Solve for X, in this podcast with Barry Burd.

If you're thinking about solving some of the world's most pressing problems, from providing clean water to developing nations to eradicating infectious diseases worldwide, then it's not a bad idea to have one of the world's largest software companies backing your ideas, and that's exactly what Solve for X is all about.

Solve for X is a program that Google started a few years ago to bring people with big ideas to the forefront.ry Burd
Barry BurdAuthor

"Solve for X is a program that Google started a few years ago to bring people with big ideas to the forefront," said Barry Burd, who has been covering this year's competition for TheServerSide. The vernacular used to describe the ideas presented in Solve for X is a moonshot, with a moonshot comprising three key parts. First, a moonshot must address a world-class problem. Second, a moonshot must contain a radical solution. And third, the proposed solution must include the application of some type of technology in a nontrivial way, basically meaning that a proposed solution can't simply be the collective holding of hands by world leaders. As one could imagine, computational systems and software programs play a large role in the various moonshots the project entertains.

In the accompanying podcast, Burd describes a few of the interesting moonshots he's heard about, including a proposal to filter water using strands of DNA, another one that proposes neural-net-created algorithms that can create unheard-of compression rates that approach 85% to 90%, making it possible to stream a movie over a standard home network connection in just a matter of seconds, and even a theory of everything that could potentially explain both the mystery of gravity and the conundrum behind dark matter.

In our interview, here are some of the questions we pitched at Barry Burd:

  • What is Solve for X?
  • What exactly is a Solve for X moonshot?
  • How do you describe your level of involvement in the Solve for X program?
  • What are three of the most interesting moonshots that you have been privy to?
  • How are winners decided?
  • What happens after a proposal is identified as a top-tier moonshot?

Hear each of these questions addressed in this podcast.

You can follow Cameron McKenzie on Twitter.

This was last published in March 2015

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