A few days ago Singularity University NL announced that Dutch citizens could now compete in a unique contest to radically improve the Dutch healthcare. The prize: a ticket, worth 30.000 dollar, to participate in the Singularity University (SU) 10-week summer program at the NASA campus in Silicon Valley in the United States.
So how can radically improvement really be achieved? Here are 3 key pointers that might help you win the ticket:
1. Think exponentially
First, if you want to think radical you need to stop thinking linear and start thinking exponentially. Ray Kurzweil, co-founder of the Singularity University, has a clear example:
Imagine someone asked you “How far will you be if you take 30 steps?” Most would be able to guess their location in a very accurate manner. But what if they asked you “How far will you be if you take 30 exponential steps?” With exponential steps this means 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and so on until you have repeated this 30 times. Can you imagine where you will be? Not likely since it is going be 1 billion steps away. (Source: FutureMed).
A real life example of exponential technology is the microchip. Moore’s law predicted that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This has been true for decades. 5 years ago you could not have predicted the computer power of your smartphone today with linear thinking (remember there was a time before the iPhone?). However, if you would have thought exponentially you would find it quite logical where we stand today. Now, with this in mind, where will we stand 5 years from now?
If you want to know more about Ray Kurzweil’s perspective of Health and Medicine, read this Forbes’ article
If you want to know more about Ray Kurzweil and his vision on the Singularity in general, check out his talk here:
Ray Kurzweil: How to Build a Mind from Singularity Institute on FORA.tv
2. Think digitalization & dematerializing
Radical impact means not reaching hundreds or thousands, but reaching millions. How can this be done? Your idea needs to be able to scale and this can be done by digitalization and dematerializing.
First, digitalization: Venture Capitalist Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz said it best “Software eats the world”. What does that mean? It means that when you can turn a process or a product into software you can measure and improve faster and cheaper and this in turn can disrupt an industry. An example of digitalization in the healthcare sector is Patients like me where patients can share their experiences. The data that comes out of this, such as outcomes of treatments, is used by the pharmaceutical companies to improve their medicines faster than was possible before this digital community was available.
Second, dematerializing: Another benefit of digitalization is that fewer hardware is needed. As Peter Diamandis, also co-founder of Singularity University, explains you used to buy a flashlight in a hardware store, now you just download the app. In the healthcare sector you see the same trend: bulky hardware is replaced with light scalable solutions, such as the optical microscopy project by UCLA
3. Think different
Finally, to think radical, you’ll need to think different. Luckily, there is a place for those who think different: The Solve for X community.
Solve For X is a place to hear about and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems. Radical in the sense that the solutions could help millions or billions of people. Radical in the sense that the audacity of the proposals makes them sound like science fiction. And radical in the sense that there is some real technology breakthrough on the horizon indicating that these ideas could really be brought to life.
Solve for X is a great way to get your mind blown. For example, did you ever think about Nanorobots that deliver cancer drugs specifically to tumors?
For more inspiration on the future of health and medicine also check FutureMed part of the Singularity University. They just had a summit where the latest technologies were presented. You can find the summary here.
Hopefully these pointers will give you inspiration for your radical idea. Good luck!