Google co-founder: Science needs entrepreneurs

Larry Page, a 33-year-old billionaire who remains co-president of Mountain View, California-based Google, has declared that scientists need more entrepreneurial drive and could benefit by doing more to promote solutions to big human problems. "There are lots of people who specialize in marketing, but as far as I can tell, none of them work for you. Let's talk about solving some worldwide problems. Let's get people really motivated. It is not hard to do this. You need to think that business and entrepreneurship is a good thing," Page told researchers at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday. Page said the reason many scientific undertakings did not succeed was due to a lack of human effort rather than technical hurdles.

Page offered a variety of proposals to raise the profile of scientists in society. Among his ideas were:

  • Noting how 40,000 people die annually in U.S. auto accidents, Page proposed giving computers control over cars, saying that the loss of control was worth the lower death toll.
  • Build fewer roads in underdeveloped parts of Africa and use ultra light planes capable of traveling at up to 90 mph (145 kph) which would consume less gasoline than ground vehicles.
  • Solar energy installations in the Nevada desert were capable of producing 800 megawatts per square mile (2.5 square km), somewhat less than half the 2,000 megawatts of a nuclear power plant, he said. (A mid sized natural gas-powered plant generates around 400 or 500 megawatts).
  • A major limitation to wind power is the need for a distribution grid to move power from regions where wind blows to where populations are centered. He said 80% of the electrical grid of Europe and North Africa could be served by an ambitious wind distribution grid cross-connecting the two regions. "Are we going to build that grid? I don't think so. But I think it would be a good idea."
Link: Forum Discussion (Thanks Rappy)
News source: CNN

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I'm sure he means well, but the ideas presented don't seem to have much realistic thought behind them... as if they were said off-the-cuff. Were these ideas actually planned discussion?

Indeed, his speech is well meant, but half-assed (pardon my french). No real thoughts behind implementation or application.

He basically said, "we need to do 'good' things-- solve 'good' problems."

However, we've all agreed that things don't happen because "they're good or should happen"-- things happen because "i can profit from it."

So let me connect the dots-- Page says we [the scientists] need to entrepreneurs. I say (more specifically and perhaps obviously), we need business-types/marketers/scientists to align solving 'societal problems' with making money-- FIGURE OUT how to make solving these problems financially attractive.

Yeah, give computers control of driving cars. Next thing we do is give them control over our military. Hello Skynet how are you?