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Posted: September 11, 2013

More on the Museum of Future Inventions

The "Eight Grand Challenges"

Thomas Frey

(Editor's note: This is the second of two parts. Read Part 1.)

Adding a unique twist to normal exhibits will be the Eight Grand Challenges, a competition that outlines what it will take to become one of the greatest inventors of all times.

These challenges have been framed around incredibly difficult feats. At stake will be a combination of national pride, personal legacies and laying claim to unprecedented achievements in science and industry.

Here is an overview of the “Eight Grand Challenges”:

  1. Race to the Core: First team to build a probe that makes it all the way to the center of the earth with a communication system capable of sending real-time sensory data to the surface throughout the journey.
  2. Viewing the Past: Create a technology capable of replaying an unrecorded event that happened no less than 20 years earlier in full-size, holographic form of display.
  3. Disassembling Matter: First team to reduce a solid block of granite (2’ cube) to particles no larger than molecules in less than 10 seconds, using less than 500 watts of power without causing an explosion or physical damage to objects more than 10′ away.
  4. The Gravity Challenge: Demonstrate gravitational control over an object weighing no less than 2,000 lbs. by doubling the force of gravity to 4,000 lbs., reducing the force of gravity by 50 percent to 1,000 lbs., and creating negative gravity by lifting the object 1,000 ft and returning it back to the original position with no explosions and in less than 10 minutes.
  5. The Ultimate Small Storage Particle: Create an electron-based data storage system no larger than 10 millimeters cubed that can be manufactured for less than $1 per 100 terabytes and is capable of uploading, storing, and retrieving a volume of information equal to the U.S. Library of Congress in less than 10 minutes using less than 1 watt per TB/month.
  6. Travel at the Speed of Light: Create a scientific probe capable of traveling at the speed of light for a distance no less than the Earth to Saturn with information sensors to capture stresses, impacts, and details along the way.
  7. Swarm-Bots: Create a swarm of 10,000 synchronized micro drones no larger than 10 millimeters across (height, width, and depth) capable of lifting a 250-pound person to a height of 100 feet and gently returning him/her to the ground.
  8. The 10-Second Interface: Create a direct-to-the-mind interface that will allow 25 average people to answer a series of questions within 10 seconds with no harmful side effects to the user.

“Taste of the Future” Café

People who are hungry will have a chance to dine on tomorrow’s food. As our understanding of food changes, so will the means of production, food styles, supply chains, preparation techniques, and more.

Why this is so Urgently Needed

It’s easy to look around and see what exists today, but the true visionaries are looking at what’s missing. And what’s missing is where the real opportunities lie.

With today’s automations, jobs are disappearing faster than ever before in history. The only way to compensate for this is to build new businesses and new industries from scratch.

Several studies have shown that every job lost will be replaced many times over with emerging new industries.

People of tomorrow will need to be prepared for a higher calling. This higher calling will be to pre-empt crises before they occur, anticipate disasters before they happen, and solve some of mankind’s greatest problems, starting with the problem of our own ignorance.

Much like a walking through a dark forest with a flashlight that illuminates but a short distance ahead, each step forward gives us a new perspective, adding light to what was previously dark. The people of tomorrow will simply need a better flashlight.

With over 2 billion jobs disappearing by 2030, we will need systems capable of creating new business and industry faster than ever before. The museum can become an important piece of this equation.

Final Thoughts

Our primary influencers today, when it comes to matters of the future, tend to be movies, television, and news shows whose primary interest is in making a profit, not making a better world. Fear is a great driver of profits. Consequently we’ve been deluged with dismal, dystopian views of the future, views that leave most of us dreading the world ahead.

The Museum of Future Inventions has the potential to be a major positive influence on the world ahead. The future is not one where everyone dreads getting up in the morning because so many things can go wrong. Rather, the future we’re imagining is exciting; where we can’t wait to get started on their next project because we know we can make a difference.

Our goal is to create an experience that will profoundly change the lives of each person who spends a day in the museum.

However a project like this will require far more help than we can currently muster with our small team at the DaVinci Institute. Over the coming weeks we’ll let you know how to get involved.

As with everything, it only takes a few bright minds to make a difference. Let us know if you’re one of them.

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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