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Google unleashes 'Solve for X' confabs to save the world

Boffins gathered for new TED-like talks

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Internet giant Google is once more trying to save the world, this time with its TED-rip-off "Solve for X" project.

The Chocolate Factory has launched the project after the first invite-only gathering of minds, which pulled techies and boffins together to talk about "moonshots", ie, wildly ambitious projects to solve world problems, or in the words of the Google blog:

These are efforts that take on global-scale problems, define radical solutions to those problems, and involve some form of breakthrough technology that could actually make them happen. Moonshots live in the gray area between audacious projects and pure science fiction; they are 10x improvement, not 10 per cent. That’s partly what makes them so exciting.

Anyone thinking that this little mission sounds vaguely familiar would be right, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the non-profit TED organisation, which brings together folks from the Technology, Entertainment and Design worlds to talk about "ideas worth spreading".

TED has a number of annual conferences which are invite-only and, for the public, it has TEDTalks, videos from the conferences that the regular folk can watch online.

Solve for X has, you guessed it, Solve for X Talks, which are also videos of thinkers having ideas that ordinary people can watch online. And they're probably going to have annual conferences as well.

"Our gathering last week brought together a group that is already practiced at moonshot thinking to propose specific solutions," Google opined. "At least a few times a year, we hope that people will take a few hours or a day or two out of their busy schedules to dare to push the boundaries, and to consider moonshot approaches to some of the world’s many unresolved challenges."

Solve for X is a bit more targeted than TED, given that it only wants ideas that present "a huge problem to solve, a radical solution for solving it, and the breakthrough technology to make it happen". And it's a bit more interactive, as it allows people to submit talks they've given or seen that they think meet the criteria.

But other than that, it's pretty much the same, even down to the non-profit bit.

"Solve for X isn’t about developing a new business line or building an investment portfolio. Rather, it aims to be a forum where technology-based moonshot thinking is practiced, celebrated and amplified," Google said.

Solve for X has its own website and naturally, a Google+ page. ®

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