You might all be aware of this, but just in case ...

From: Timothy Jennings (
Date: Fri Oct 08 2004 - 05:03:20 MDT

>From the WTN Xprize site:

... and here's the relevant part:


The concept of the WTN X PRIZES is to utilize the concepts,
procedures, technologies and publicity developed X PRIZE Foundation's
Ansari X PRIZE competition for space and the global science and
technology innovators identification process and community developed
by the World Technology Network (WTN) to launch a series of technology
prizes seeking to meet the greatest challenges facing humanity in the
21st century.

The X PRIZE competition focused on jumpstarting a private space
industry has re-proven the principle – strongly proven in the early
years of the 20th century for the aviation industry – that innovation
can indeed be catalyzed. That principle can and should be extended to
other global challenges and opportunities and together we at the World
Technology Network (WTN) and the X PRIZE Foundation are committed to
doing just that.

What challenges/opportunities should be selected?

Although the idea of using the X PRIZE concept work in other areas is
at first glance a simple and attractive one, a great deal of up-front
thought needs to go into what challenges/opportunities would be
selected. One could argue that there were certain qualities about the
challenges and opportunities in both the aviation field and the space
field that lent themselves extremely well to a private sector
competition of the sorts which have occurred. Variables to be looked
at might include:

    * The maturity (or lack thereof) of the technology around which
the competition would be based?
    * The maturity (or lack thereof) of the related industries from
which a new industry would be born
    * The number of potential "competitors" potentially able to meet
the challenge or at least the depth of the pool from which potential
competitors could be drawn
    * The level of the specificity of the challenge
    * The financial resources potentially available to finance the
potential competitors
    * The financial resources potentially available to finance the Prize itself
    * How potentially compelling and exciting is the field around
which the challenge would be based
    * The amenability of the target area to a threshold change in
public expectation
    * The replicability of the challenge to other areas?
    * The level of the presumed long-term benefit to business and society

The list of questions above is by no means exhaustive, but does give a
sense of how the selection of a new challenge is not as first as
simple as it may seem. It is absolutely key that the right challenges
are selected – sufficiently exciting to compel hearts and minds,
sufficiently ambitious to reach beyond what is already likely going to
occur soon and to have a truly substantial impact, and sufficiently
focused to have a good chance of succeeding within a reasonable

Potential types of challenges?

Here is a very rough and incomplete list of the sorts of challenges
that might be appropriate:

    * Medical challenges, such a cure for cancer or other major diseases.
    * Technological "holy grails", such as artificial intelligence,
teleportation, molecular assemblers (true nanotechnology), cold
fusion, or a believable virtual reality system
    * Major global challenges, such as the various UN Millennium
Development Goals (MDGs) announced by the world's leaders at the UN in
2000 at the Millennium Summit.

Why We Are Asking You For Suggestions?

There are over billions of people on the planet, almost each of whom
has a dream for a better world. The chances of us finding a truly
worthwhile series of challenges for the WTN X PRIZE competitions over
the coming years are that much greater the more suggestions we
receive. We are asking you because your dreams are the repository of
an enormous amount of creativity and hope. In the spirit of man's
first reach into space, we ask you to stretch your imagination to help
take humanity to the next level. Are you up to the challenge?

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