Pushing Goodness

posted in: Random, Rants | 4

Pushing Goodness

Pushing Goodness

I’ve been reading the book Abundance, by Peter Diamandis.


I needed a dose of goodness.



The thing I like about this book and Dr. Diamandis’ point of view in general is his reasoned optimism. The facts he repeatedly cites in his presentations, point out that we are living in an amazing time in human history.

Despite the doom and gloom that the mainstream media feeds us constantly, the world is a far better place than it’s been ever before. Lifespans have doubled in the last century. People living below the poverty line in America today typically have refrigerators, cell phones, indoor plumbing and food available from every country on Earth. These luxuries were unavailable to the Gilded Age mega-rich of the late 19th Century. In the next 20-30 years, we’re looking at the possible end of poverty worldwide based on current trends.

Sound hippy-dippy wonderful?

Well, it is. Turn off your TV and take a look at what’s really going on in this world.

Try these for a break from the wars and rumors of wars:



One of the things that inspired Dr. Diamandis was reading about how Charles Lindbergh came to make the first trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris. The reason that flight was made was due to a contest funded by wealthy hotel owner Raymond Orteig. This was a tremendous paradigm shift.

Traditionally, big changes were driven by a hierarchical model. A king, generalissimo or captain of industry wanted something done and decreed that a solution be found. This is the model on which the space race was conducted. The US and USSR wanted to beat each other to space. The Soviets got Sputnik up before us. We got men on the moon before them. So on and so forth.

With contests, you’re taking the gamble out of the hands of the originator. If you want something done and are able to find the funding to make an achievement even more appealing, you are no longer on the hook to back a particular solution. By creating a prize and stipulating what the success conditions are, you open the solutions to a variety of approaches. You only pay the winner. Even in that case, the top 5-10 solutions to the proposed issue constitute a whole new industry designed to address whatever problem you wanted solve.

Take a look at some of these contests. Some have already been won, some are in process:

  • The Ansari XPRIZE was a challenge to create a privately funded spaceship that could fly 3 humans to 100km above the earth twice in a fortnight. The prize was won by the Mojave Aerospace Ventures team of Burt Rutan and Paul Allen. The technology was licensed by Richard Branson to create a new company, Virgin Galactic.
  • The Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE was designed to address the unfortunate problem that the technology for cleaning up oil spills had not improved even a little between the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 and the BP Gulf Oil spill in 2010. The Elastec / American Marine team of Donnie Wilson and Jeff Cantrell. They achieved a cleanup rate of 4670 gallons per minute. That’s 89.5% efficiency, which more than tripled industry-standard measures in controlled conditions.
  • The Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is an attempt to create a device that will allow people to have in-hand diagnostics not unlike the medical tricorder from Star Trek. The winning device will have built-in sensors to identify pathogens from breath, perspiration or sneezes and will have cloud-based AI that can diagnose a person’s condition as well as a panel of board certified physicians. 7 teams are currently in the consumer testing phase of the contest. This prize is scheduled to be awarded in January 2016.
  • The Global Learning XPRIZE is designed to create open source software that can run on a variety of mobile devices that will enable a child in a developing country to learn their native language as well as English and all of the core basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. The team submissions will be concluding soon and testing will be conducted through the end of 2018. The prize will be awarded in January 2019.
  • The Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation will develop mobile applications that result in the most literacy improvement among participants in only 12 months. Registration ends in December 2015 and the prize will be awarded in June of 2019.

There are ideas for a variety of future prizes. Each of these will make our world a better place.

Don't be a Dick

Don’t Be A Dick

I saw this line in the mindmap of a fellow who was coaching me a while back.

I think this is a great reminder for basically everyone, myself included.

It takes a lot of effort to avoid being totally selfish and to avoid being a total dick. As with anything, practice makes perfect. So, practice being less selfish as often as possible.

I’ll try if you will. 

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4 Responses

  1. Bonnie Gean

    Hi Rob,

    I for one can’t wait to see what transpires (technology-wise) over the next 10-20 years! I was ecstatic to learn about the LILY – the camera that follows you. What a fun way to make a video! Have you heard about it yet?

    I recently viewed a video on Facebook where they’re reinventing the umbrella, which is about time, IMHO. I never could understand why they opened backwards! It makes no sense getting into a car when your umbrella is soaked to the gills and folds INTO the car, rather than outside it.

    However, I do miss the OLD things from my childhood, too. There are inventions I wish man would never have “improved” over the years, but that’s an entirely different post to dwell on. hehe

    – Bonnie
    Bonnie Gean recently posted…How Hiring a Coach Stalled My Entrepreneurial SpiritMy Profile

    • Rob Knowlan

      I had heard of LILY a while ago, LOL. A selfie-drone is just what the world needs. :^D It certainly is cool, though.

      I’m really glad they’re making such headway on self-driving cars. My younger daughter is going to need one in a few more years.

      • Bonnie Gean

        Hi Rob,

        Speaking of self-driving cars… I hope they help the “eyesight is dwindling crowd” because, in a few more years, I won’t be able to drive during the day.

        I’ve already stopped driving at night (bad eyesight since childhood), so it’s only a matter of time when the daytime driving ends too.

        – Bonnie
        Bonnie Gean recently posted…How to Create a Dazzling Pie Chart in PowerpointMy Profile

  2. Mike Gardner is The Time Doctor

    Hi Rob, I come from a place of optimism, there are many things going on in the world, that i can’t influence or impact. there are many things happening in my life that i can both impact and influence. I take the recent recession as an example, when i look at how my business has grown over the last five years, i just say what recession

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