Google Moonshots : Radical Life Extension, Robotic Cars, Asteroid Mining, Cheap Space Telescopes, Quantum Computing, Machine Learning

Google or the Google Founders are making well funded attempts to conquer big technological challenges. Success in these major endeavors will alter the trajectory of the future of humanity.

Here is the list of technologies and technological challenges which Google or the Google Founders are taking on.

Radical Life Extension

Radical life extension via the new startup Calico. Even the announcement has brought more legitimacy to radical life extension. Aubrey de Grey of SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence – repairing the damage of aging) has indicated that it will make his fund raising efforts easier. Art Levinson, x-CEO of Genentech is leading Calico. Genentech was bought by Roche for $47 billion in 2009. Biotech and pharma companies will take notice of goals laid out by Calico.

Robotic Cars

Google made robotic cars legitimate. There was already the University research and the DARPA challenge, but robotic cars were not being seriously pursued by any car company. Anyone might talk about self driving cars but they would be targeting 20 years away, which would basically be never. They would be car show demos forever. Tesla is now pushing for 90% self driving cars within three years. States and countries are making them legal and are working out the regulations. Mostly self driving cars within 5 years only happens because Google made serious efforts to push it into reality and commercialization.

Just in the U.S., self driving cars can generate $2 trillion a year in revenue and even more market cap.

Driverless car technology has the very real potential to save millions from death and injury and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars of costs. Google’s claims for the car, as described by Sebastian Thrun, its lead developer, are:

* We can reduce traffic accidents by 90%.
* We can reduce wasted commute time and energy by 90%.
* We can reduce the number of cars by 90%.

Planetary Resources – asteroid mining, cheap space telescopes, colonization

Planetary Resources is an asteroid mining company with the backing of the Google Founders. Planetary Resources is making space telescopes one hundred times cheaper. Space industrialization and colonization will get a big boost from what Planetary resources is doing to alter capabilities and costs in space.

Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Quantum computers

Google has bought a DWave 512 qubit quantum annealing system and they have hired Ray Kurzweil to lead efforts in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Ray Kurzweil, one of the leading scientists in the field of Artificial Intelligence, joined Google late last year. Kurzweil is perhaps the most prominent proponent of “hard AI,” which argues that it is possible to create consciousness in an artificial being. Add to this Google’s revelation that it is using techniques of deep learning to produce an artificial brain, and a subsequent hiring of the godfather of computer neural nets Geoffrey Hinton.

Now we add the Dwave quantum computer which can already accelerate the solution of machine learning algorithms that are useful to Google’s AI efforts.

* producing very compact, efficient recognizers
* improved handling of highly polluted [real world]training data
* the best results not with pure quantum computing, but by mixing quantum and classical computing
* 2000 and 8000 qubit systems coming in 2 years and 4 years will speed up solving nearly all machine learning optimization problems in one second after they are formulated properly for the Dwave system

In a few years, Kurzweil will have the classical computer power of Google’s data centers and quantum computer power that could be beyond the power of all classical computers to drive his solution of greater than human intelligence artificial intelligence.

This is an interesting development in a larger trend that Steve Jurvetson calls Deus Ex Machina — machine learning innervates everything.

Under the covers, just about every new initiative at Google, from Glass to robo-cars, is driven by machine learning — whereby the machine learns patterns in the data without explicit models or traditional solution design. It’s what makes “Big Data” BIG this time around. The approach requires a humble relaxation of the presumption of control, and so it starts with companies like Google and eventually revolutionizes all businesses, even those with a delusion of control, like Investment bankers.

More to Come – Solve for X

Google and the Google founders are continuing to hunt for more great ideas via Solve for X.

Google over twice the research budget of DARPA in 2012 and growing at 20% per year

Google spent about $6 billion on research and development in 2012. Google has $54 billion cash available for more projects. Each of the founders (Sergey Brin, Larry Page) is worth $20-22 billion each.

Google is growing revenue and income at about 20% per year

In 4 years, Google could have 4 times the research budget of DARPA.

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