ICCF24 Presents: Peter Diamandis and Huw Price - Why Prizes Accelerate Moonshot Technologies
Please welcome to the stage virtually, Peter Diamandis and Hugh Price. Hello, everyone, as you can see, you've got the real me. And I hope, a virtual Peter. Hello, Peter. Hi. Good to see you again. And thank you for joining us. Now, what we're going to do today is to have a fireside chat with the whole room. But first of all, Peter, I'm going to raise a few questions on my own. I'm going to take advantage of the fact that I've got you to myself for a few minutes before we open it up for general Q&A.
Peter, of course, everyone knows the XPrize brand. But we don't all know the history -- and here, I'm including myself. Perhaps you could start off by telling us where the idea came from, how it started, what the philosophy was, that sort of thing? Sure, I'll do it in brief. The reality is that prizes are not a very new concept. They've
been around for a while, the Longitude Prize. Probably the prize that got me excited about this was something called the Orteig Prize that was offered in 1919 by a Frenchman, Raymond Orteig. For the first person to fly nonstop between New York and Paris, or Paris and New York. But with the trade winds, you go eastward. And that $25,000 prize offered
in 1919 sparked nine different teams to spend $400,000 trying to win this $25,000 prize. And what was important was the prize was offered in 1919. It was considered a crazy idea. The idea of flying nonstop over that far distance. And by 1927, when Lindbergh made the flight, he was the most unlikely person to pull it off. Meaning, he had flown far fewer hours than any of the other teams that went in. But yet, he won. And when I read Lindbergh's biography called,
The Spirit of St. Louis, I was blown away by the economics of the prize. That $25,000 prize drove $400,000 in team expenditures. And that that prize really launched today's, you know, quarter billion dollar aviation industry. You can trace it back very clearly. So by the time I finished reading that book, the idea of an incentive competition, right. There are
historical prizes like the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize, that reward someone for work done a few years ago -- or in some cases, three decades ago. This was an incentive competition. This is, I don't care where you're from, where you went to school, what you've ever done. If you solve this problem and demonstrate it, you win. And so I launched, on the heels of reading that book, something called the Ansari XPRIZE, the XPRIZE for private spaceflight, offering up $10 million, money I didn't have at the time. Regardless, for the first person who could build a private spaceship carrying three adults up into space, land safely do it again within two weeks. And it took me from 1994 when I had the idea to 1996, when we announced it under the arch of St. Louis. It took another eight years to 2004
for the prize to be won. On the heels of that, we've since launched about $300 million in prizes. Last year, we launched our largest ever, $100 million prize that Elon funded, for gigaton carbon removal. But we've had prizes for mapping the ocean floor, for pulling oil out of the ocean from oil spills, to educating kids in the middle of Tanzania with no literate adults or schools. Any place where you can describe a concrete, measurable, objective goal that typically people think can't be done. If it could be done and it's happening anyway, it's not a great place for a prize. A prize can accelerate those things. But it's really, prizes do an amazing job where it's getting people to say, "I wonder, could I do that?" "How would I do that?" And you get parallel innovation going.
For the gigaton carbon removal prize, we've had 1,100 teams enter that competition, as an example. We'll typically have at least a few dozen, to hundreds. In this case, we broke over 1,000 teams. Do you have a favorite prize? So, you've been running for almost 20 years since the space prize... Oh, I think I'll jokingly use the line that Burt Rutan shared: "My favorite airplane is my next one." So my favorite prize is my next one. We have a few that are amazing. We have one
we're on the verge of getting funded. It's a wildfire prize. For any of us living in California, that is an issue. This prize is asking teams, Can you detect a wildfire at ignition? And if it's greater than two meters in size, or if it's moving, put it out in 10 minutes? Avoid the campfires, avoid the grill, identify a wildfire that shouldn't exist, and put it out. And I don't care how you put it out, Water balloons, water cannons, drones, robots, doesn't matter. But it's, you know,
when's the best time to detect a wildfire? At start, right? And same thing for cancer. Another XPRIZE that I'm diligently working on right now is an age reversal XPRIZE.It's a $101 million prize. Chip Wilson has underwritten half of it. He put up $51 million. You might ask, why is it 101? Well, he wanted it to be bigger than Elon's prize, which is $100 million. And that's for reversing biological human age by 20 years or more with a therapeutic that lasts for under a year. So we're two thirds funded for that prize and really want to get launched this year.
I'm contributing there. I think it's an area that can use new thinking, new innovators, and attention. One of the things that we do with prizes, in particular, that's an advantage is we bring brand new talent into the field that didn't exist before, new approaches. A lot of times in these competitions the traditional players, like with the original XPRIZE for spaceflight, we did not have Boeing, or Lockheed, or Orbital Sciences, or any of the traditional players because there's no incentive for them. If they lose, people say, "Well, look, you just lost to a startup." And if they win, they say, "What, you did this for a $10 million prize and you couldn't have done it on your own before?" So it really brings typically smaller parties, non traditional teams, to the table.
The other thing that these prizes do, Huw, as we've discussed is they provide a level playing field so that we can compare lots of different approaches. So another prize that was a great one was when the BP Oil Spill hit, in 2010. James Cameron was on my board at that time, and he said we got to do something about this spill. It was mucking up the beaches, it was going on and on and on. And we ended up coming up with an idea that we couldn't cap the spill on the the BP platform. But what if we could reinvent how to clean up the spill faster? Or we could clean up the oil on the ocean surface before it hits beach land and messes up the fisheries and the beaches? And we had 430 teams enter that competition. We basically narrowed them down to 10 finalists. And we said, your solution has to fit a shipping container. And
your shipping container needs to be the top 10 to send their shipping container to a facility in New Jersey for the world's largest oil spill cleanup. And so we had 10 different approaches show up in this facility. One of the teams was a fishing family out of Alaska that really invested their life savings. They came in like, third. One of the teams was a team that came out of Las Vegas, a tattoo artist who had the idea for the prize and the engineering of it. And one of his customers funded it. They tested it in the guy's Jacuzzi because they couldn't get access
to a larger facility. And it actually became one of the top four or five solutions. So you get very non traditional players going after these things. And sometimes traditional ones, too. But it's got to be measurable. It's got to be objective. And ultimately, we ended up getting
not a single solution but lots of solutions, and hopefully kicked off an entire industry. So there are lots of elements that make these prizes really work well with innovation. Okay, yeah, there's a great tradition of technological solutions in bathtubs. I'm thinking of Archimedes.
Okay, you've told us about lots of great things. Are there any XPRIZEs that you feel were a dud, or failures, or simply weren't won by anyone? So, great question. And I'm fond of saying, if 100 percent of the prizes we launch are won then we're clearly making a mistake because it's too easy. We're looking for the intersection of audacious and achievable prizes. In 2007, I think it was thereabouts, Larry Page introduced me to Craig Venter. And Craig had sequenced his human genome in 2001, and put up a half million dollar prize for the $1,000 genome. And Craig ended up joining our board and put his $500,000 forward towards a larger prize. And
we ended up raising a $10 million prize called the Archon Genome XPRIZE, for the first $1,000 genome. And we had started the prize, we had the capital, we had the rules going, but what happened was that the rate at which sequencing breakthroughs were occurring, if you've ever seen sort of the cost of human genome sequencing, they were dropping at five times Moore's Law. There's a very beautiful chart with that occurring. And we got to a point where he said, you know, this is happening with or without a prize. And it's not a good place for a prize to be. So we ended up, much to the chagrin of particular one of the teams, who really had some beautiful technology, not launching the prize, even though it was ready to launch.
And today, we've gotten from $100 million for Craig's Genome in nine months, down to $100 per genome in seven hours. So it's been progressing pretty extraordinarily. Another prize that didn't get one was our Google Lunar prize. So after the original prize was was won for spaceflight, we were having dinner at the Googleplex with a group of our board members and benefactors and said, "What's our next space prize going to be?" And we said, "How about a private lunar landing prize -- not for humans, but for a robot?" And the prize that was set -- it was another learning from this -- was, a $30 million prize. And it was going to be for the first team who could land a private robot on the moon. Take photos and videos. I should say photos and YouTube videos, send them back to Earth,
rove half a kilometer, you could rove or you could hop, and then send back more photos and videos. And we had about 30 teams enter that competition. And it was originally set to expire in six years. Google did an amazing job of extending it a few additional times. By the end of 10 years, the the period of the prize had run out. And it turned out a year later, the Israeli team
that had competed in this competition did make a landing on the moon, albeit a kinetic landing. They didn't survive the impact that had difficulty with the software on the descent stage. But a number of teams that entered that, there's a massive amount of startup capital that went in, and a number of companies that are now part of NASA's Lunar economy came out of that competition. So we're proud of that. I would say one of the lessons we learned from that competition was we made it a little bit too difficult. Meaning, rather than just saying, land on the moon privately and send back a photo, the idea of having to land and then move and then send back more photos and videos... as if a private landing on the moon wouldn't have been enough? So,
there are lessons learned every time that we succeed and every time we fail. Some of the things that we do today in prizes, that we didn't do originally was, we'll offer out tiered prizes where 80 percent of the prize purse may be for the ultimate solution. But we might offer 10 percent of the prize purse a year or two into the competition, to the top teams. And another 10 percent to a smaller subset of teams. All the teams can continue to compete. But it just puts capital into the field. Because sometimes even that small amount of capital, $100,000 here or there, can make a big difference for a startup team in the lab.
Thank you, Peter. That's, that's all fascinating. I've learned a lot that I didn't know. And as an Australian, I'm particularly pleased to hear about the Wildfire prize. We have that problem, too. Let's now move on from the history of XPRIZE, to talk about the field of these people here: New Energy Solutions. Perhaps I could start by asking, why hasn't there been an XPRIZE in this
field? I'm aware that a few years ago there was a competition for, I think it was called, Designing a Breakthrough Energy Prize. I think that was a sort of proposal for an XPRIZE, is that correct? We do want and desire, I mean, we have energy and environment sustainability as one of the core cornerstones of the areas that we're looking at prizes. And we've talked about, one of the questions on prizes is always: Is the economy, is industry, driving it sufficiently? With a prize, you don't want to set up a prize for something that's going to happen anyway, right? The analogy I use is, you don't want to go and kiss the winner in the winner's circle. Like,
"Oh, you were going to do this anyway. Here's a prize so we can get glory for the prize benefactor or the prize organization." That's not a good idea. You really want to have prizes for areas that are not moving fast enough, or there's no capital flowing into that sector, or people think it's not possible. Which brings us to, you know, sort of the topic at hand. I've always felt like, a great use for use for an XPRIZE would be something around Cold Fusion, low LENR type. Because obviously, a few decades ago, there was a series of events that led to a great stigma about, "well, you can't do research in that area". One of the prizes I'm working on right now,
which I mentioned, is this age-reversal prize which five to 10 years ago would have had a similar type of reaction from people saying, "Oh, that's a crazy idea. I cannot believe you're funding that!" And, you know, with the work that Dr. David Sinclair and George Church, and others have done, it's become really a hot area of research. And our hope is not just bringing more capital and talent to the table, but also to change the perspective of what people think is possible. I think one of the things that prizes do is people go from, "Oh, interesting. Can that happen?" to "When is it going to happen?" Right, it provides that sort of question, that vector.
So, I do believe that LENR and related fields are potentially a great place. You know, where if people are working on a subject that people consider kind of crazy, I like to say, "The day before something is truly a breakthrough, it's a crazy idea." So, we do need to have a sufficient number of people inside government, inside companies, inside scientific institutions, working on crazy ideas. Otherwise, you're stuck in incremental-ism. So how do we incentivize people to take shots at what traditional communities consider crazy ideas, and not damage their careers? Well, I think incentive competitions are a great way to do that. Cuz it gives you an excuse to say, "well, why are you going to risk your career on that?" "Well, have you heard there's $100 million prize to go and win that? Of course, I'm going to give it a shot, you know, even if there's a small chance." So anyway, let me pause there.
But perhaps I could press you a little bit on the question as to why it hasn't happened before, because the the kinds of factors that you've just described have been fairly constant, going back several years. now. When I first wrote publicly about this field, I was interested, as a philosopher of science, in the reputation problems, and suggested that given that it was clear that work in this field needed to be done. Because the cost of missing something could be so high, given the need for new sources of energy. And
even to someone like me, coming from philosophy, I could see we needed to change the incentive structure. And I actually suggested in that first piece, that perhaps we need an XPRIZE. And that was six or seven years ago. So, as I said, I was aware that there was a competition to try to design an XPRIZE. I'm curious about why it didn't happen.
So I would say that the reason that we haven't gone as pure play would, as going saying a cold fusion prize, or LENR prize, is we've got to find the capital behind these things. And what we typically will do is get a grant to figure out what the rules would be, is there a viable prize there, first and foremost. So like, for example, on the age reversal prize, Sergei Young and Michael Antonov put up the seed capital. They put up a half a million bucks and said,
"Let's figure out if there's a there, there." And then, I was then able to get Chip Wilson to commit to his, and then I've committed capital to it, and others, and it starts to build momentum there. And so I think, in this area there, it hasn't been clear, you know, heretofore, where that seed capital or where the price capital would come from. And there's just a lot of pressing problems. But this one is a disproportionate, you know, reward potential. So, I do, it's something that I'm, I remain excited by and, you know, lend my voice to something that I think we should be doing. But it's, I think it's, I think it's
access to capital, right? Who's going to step up and put up the money? By the way, you know, with all of these prizes, if no one wins, you don't pay out the money. I mean, it's like, it's like throwing yourself a touchdown pass. It's, it's, it's crazy not to be doing. And for me, I think there's so much capital sitting on the sidelines doing nothing that it just angers me. Do you think that there's a significant difference between a prize in this field and in all or most of the other fields, in that in this case, it would be more about basic science, about a sort of proof of principle of the existence of certain kinds of phenomenon, rather than a clear technological goal? Does, would that makes a big difference? I think, and talking to some of the individuals who hopefully will step up to the microphone in our Q&A, and share what we've been talking about -- I think the the issue here is that the most important thing in this realm is repeatability, replicability. It's, can you actually, when we write it, when we come up with a prize, it's got to be clear, measurable, objective. And you need
to know when you've done it, and the world needs to know when you've done it. And in this arena, it's not going to be enough for someone to claim, "Tada! I've done it. Here's the printout." It's going to be fundamental that it be replicated independently at least once, if not more.
And only then. And that begins, right, that's zero to one. And then that begins the process of now, can we can we actually turn this into a viable energy source, and commercialize? Okay, I think it's time to open up the Q&A to the floor. I'm very curious to hear the questions from this fascinating group of people we have here. The practicalities: we've now got two microphones, one on either side of the room, by the white pillars. So could you line up at one or the other of them?
And please, please introduce yourself before you ask you your question. Sure. I'm Rob Kimball with Soulytic. And I'm wondering, do you have a timeframe, roadmap, for when the prize would be offered? That do, is this paced by when the capital is secured, or the metrics for measuring are secured? What's the roadmap for ...
So, thank you for your question. And, you know, this is a prize in concept. You can imagine the analogy to the movie industry where we have just the beginnings of a script here that's got to be turned into a screenplay. And then it's got to have the actors attached to it, and funded. I'm based in LA, so that's an analogy. Or maybe the better analogy is the pharma industry. But we've had some conversations back and forth, between XPRIZE and Anthropocene, just brainstorming rule sets. Matt, who's in the audience there, and Carl, have been part of the ongoing conversations.
And, you know, I think we first, we have a set of guidelines that we're trying to feel out, and we think there is a viable construct for a prize. I personally think this should be something like a $100 million prize, in that it should bring players from around the world, and pull people out of their labs and out of the closet, so to speak, to go and work on this. Because, you know, if it's one, it's a huge, huge payoff for the planet. We, you know, these prizes would need to have a viable Test Lab, that would be a... So, we need someone who's going to fund the prize. XPRIZE, if this were a funded prize, would be super happy to promote, operate, support. We need a lab that's going to be doing the third party independent testing. So, when we did the oil spill cleanup facility, cleanup XPRIZE,
we ended up partnering with the government, which has a large facility called OHSMETT. I have no idea what the acronym stands for, but it's the world's largest oil spill cleanup facility. Didn't know there was one of those, but there was one in New Jersey. And all of the teams tested their equipment head-to-head in that facility. We had a very accurate gallons per hour removed in that regard. So we would need to find a lab that would be the gold standard -- to say,
"Yea, verily, we replicated this," or Nope, didn't get replicated, we don't buy it." I forgot to mention, you can also submit your questions using the app and they will appear in front of me here. One has just appeared, but I'm going to try to keep the queue. You're next sir. Hi, there. My name is Oliver Barham from the US Navy,
mechanical engineer, and I have two questions. One of them is about raising the capital. How do you convince the people with access to capital to give money for a prize versus investing in a company that could potentially bring them a lot of reward? And then second, and not necessarily related but, have there ever been any unintended negative effects from a prize? Was there ever a time where a prize didn't work out the way you expected, or had any effect that was negative in any way? Because it seems like the prize is just a great idea, and we should be doing them all the time. So I'm curious if there's any negatives. Thanks. So, Oliver, thanks for your questions. To my knowledge, there haven't been any negatives? I'm sure there have been that I don't know of, or could be. So
you know, nothing's perfect, you know. In terms of the economic incentives for this, we have had, you know, for our age reversal prize, for example, one of the rules we have is that, if you're a benefactor for the prize, we will negotiate with the teams options for you to invest in the company, or early access to treatment. So that can be part of the ruleset, if that's desired. But, you know, there's trillions of dollars on the sidelines right now from everybody, all the billionaires worldwide. This is not a corporation that's going to fund this, this is going to be an individual or a foundation that this is just part of their portfolio play. And one of the other benefits of these prizes, Oliver, is that a lot of times you think you know who the players are in a field. Like, you know, it's two or three. In the
venture capital business it's this way, where you pre-choose -- Okay, I know that company and that company, and I'm going to invest in that company. When you put up a prize, instead of looking for a needle in the haystack, the needle comes to you. So you don't know all the players out of you know, around the world. These are typically global prizes. So you'll see teams from places unexpected
come forward with their ideas. Remember, I mentioned that unless you're enabling crazy ideas, you're stuck in incrementalism. So one of the benefits of prizes is you see a multitude, you get a relationship with hundreds of teams. And there's no restriction for you to be able to, you know... When a team wins this thing, it's just the beginning of the race. it's not the end,
right? It's they're going to need to scale and commercialize and get the bugs out, and so forth. So I think there's plenty of room for capital. I just think a lot of times, the reason people don't get involved in prizes that are big and audacious like this, is they're afraid of being embarrassed. They are afraid of putting their name on a prize that other people may think is kind of crazy.
And that's unfortunate, but it's part of the human dynamic. Thank you, Peter. Next question over here, please. Okay, my name is Alan Smith, from Net Zero Scientific in England.
I want to loop back to your question about all your your thoughts on the parameter space, because LENR is a very broad church, it covers a whole variety of technologies and techniques. And, for example, I could see the situation where somebody could produce a device that costs five bucks, that produces a few milliwatts of electricity, for example, and it's very small and very compact. And yet, somebody else may have spent half a million dollars producing a machine that produces perhaps 100 Watts. They're very different in concept, in construction, and in principles of operation. How can you decide between those things?
Yeah, listen, Alan, I agree with you. I don't have an answer. It's still early. We've been bouncing back and forth ideas. You know, we're... Let me back up a second. When we originally were trying to figure out the rules
for the Ansari XPRIZE for spaceflight, I want you to imagine the conversation. Saying, "Listen, this prize should be a prize that goes to the moon," or "This prize should be a prize to go into orbit." And I'm like, "No, no, this is going to be a suborbital prize." In fact, we started in 100 miles altitude, and lowered the altitude target from 100 miles to 100 kilometers, knowing full well most Americans won't know the difference between 100 miles and 100 kilometers, anyway. But, we looked at the reentry thermal characteristics for composites. 100 miles was too high an altitude. And we just,
we wanted to get something. So the goal is, I like to say this, "The ratio of something to nothing is infinite." We wanted to get something that was opening up the commercial spaceflight industry. And we ended up, through that competition, getting a lot of attention globally. You know, I've known Bezos since college, and Elon for 23 years now. And Branson, God knows I pitched him a dozen times on funding the original prize. But that lowered the activation entry for commercial companies. We also got the laws and regulations in the United States changed for commercial spaceflight, because of that prize. It didn't exist beforehand. And Marion Blakey, the head of the FAA, basically
got the regulations to allow a US private team to make this kind of a flight, versus having one in Russia or Argentina. So I think we don't know the ruleset yet. I think the goal is to get lots of players, and unleash capital and imagination, and get people thinking in non traditional fashion to move this field forward, bringing more more cognitive surplus to the table, so to speak. But we do have we have a lot more work to do on, "Is a there, there?" on the ruleset. Okay, thank you. I would say you're talking about unleashing capital. It's possibly important to remember, in a field like this, you need to unleash a little capital at the beginning, as well as at the end.
I totally, I totally get it. One of the elements, Alan, that I, uh, you know, a winner take all scenario is not where XPRIZE has been heading, of late. We're looking to design the prizes so that the top teams are the most, the most promising teams, if you would. The teams that have interesting approaches are getting small aliquots of capital in the beginning, and then larger along the way. We're staging it, still, with a big carrot at the end. It's a great plan. Thank you. Thank you, Alan. The next question is going to come from the app, here.
And it's from Bob Grenier, who says, "What about trying a prize for practical solutions to making nuclear waste extinct -- remediation, perhaps, using LENR? To do this would be transformational to energy generation transitions via nuclear, and also to acceptance of the LENR field." So, listen, I believe that energy remains a very fertile place for us to be finding XPRIZES. You know, I'm a fan of other areas like room temperature superconductors for transmission lines, and power beaming at distance. And there's, you know, there's so many places that we can improve. So we are going to be switching up XPRIZE from XPRIZE... XPRIZE 1.0 was me looking to fund the original spaceflight prize. XPRIZE. 2.0 is what we've been doing, which has been a little bit of a random walk in different areas. XPRIZE 3.0 is going to
be much more intentional, and energy and environment is one of our core... And so we're going to be doing a broad call for ideas and prizes. And I welcome that. And we'll be sharing where people can put forward their prize ideas. Next, please. Thank you, Peter. Next question. You, sir. Hi, Peter, my name is Les Moon, and I'm with Green Tech Talks. And, you know, Carl had brought up the importance of community. And I'm curious, with regard to the
discussions of laboratories and the impact or the, you know, the role of the technology research, what role can public private partnerships play in promulgating and kind of leveraging the money that's going into the XPRIZE initiatives? In other words, do you see opportunity to not just promulgate investors down the road, but maybe governments and the community in general? So, I think the the general community here needs to be an amplifier to anything we do, right? In terms of reaching out to people, to prospective teams, a lot of what an XPRIZE does is also change the conversation. And it's, the breakthrough is just the beginning. But the expectation of what the future is going to be like given this, an education is definitively key for the community. Having a breakthrough occur in silence is a failure mode, for us. It's really important
that when anything, when we announce this prize -- hopefully it will be an XPRIZE, sometime, when it's announced? The world needs to be excited about it. People need to understand why this is so exciting. What does this mean? How does this transform society? I think, otherwise, if it's so, if it's not properly understood, the value of this will not meet the potential magnitude it has for for humanity.
Thank you. Yes, sir. Yes, hello. My name is David Niebauer, I'm with Brillouin Energy. And my question or comment really kind of follows on what we were just talking about, it does seem to me, in order to fund this prize, we need a review committee that has of very high prestige.
Scientists or are individuals who are recognized. And maybe like, first, someone to lead a review committee like that, you know, what is the profile of that individual? I think of something like Neil deGrasse Tyson, you know, or somebody like that, who has, who was recognized, generally speaking, but also can come and bring some prestige to the review committee to gain excitement and energy and interest. And then, you know, from people who don't know the field, they'll also say, Well, you know, this person is looking at this, there must be something there.
So this is kind of an appeal to the community to think about, what is the profile of that individual to lead the review committee? And can we kind of reach into our contacts and find somebody who could be a At that level of prestige that could help lead the the effort, both from financing and also recognition around around the world for what's going on. Sure, good points. And anybody you know, I think Anthropocene is going to be the conduit and the receptacle for ideas here. So Frank and Carl and the team there is this really has been championed by them. XPRIZE is, you know, again, it will support if we're able to capitalize this properly
launching this, but that's not our core area of expertise. Right. This is, this is for adequacy. I will say that when I announced the original XPRIZE, I had a concept I'll share with you along the lines you just said called giving birth to an idea above the line of super credibility. So there's this line of credibility in our minds. And if you announced an idea below the line of credibility to the world, people dismiss it out of hand, that's stupid. Never happen, right? If your kid next door says you're gonna fly to Mars, you dismiss it. Then there's this line of credibility, where if you announce an idea above the line of credibility, people will follow it and say, interesting, wow, it's He's really doing it's getting better and better.
Or, you know, no, I gave it I gave it a shot, but it's not happening. And then there's this line of super credibility that if you announce an idea above the line of super credibility, people go, Oh, my god, that's amazing. How can I be part of it? So when I announced the original Ansari XPRIZE, back in 1996, May 18, under the Arch in St. Louis, I didn't have the money back then. And let me just preempt a question. My board will never allow me to launch a prize, but having money in place again. So that isn't gonna happen. But what I did do was we announced it under the
Arch in St. Louis, I had not one astronaut, but 20 astronauts on stage. And Dan Goldin, the head of the FAA and Patti Grace Smith, I'm sorry, dangle the head of NASA and Patti, head of commercial space or space at FAA. The Lindbergh family was there. And when it was announced, we had enough super credibility that was front page around the world. And no one asked you have the money, which we didn't have any teams, which we didn't, but it was by virtue of our Purigen, who was with us on stage, it had so much credibility that that that transmitted strongly, so we would need to do the same. When this is announced, having the right leadership
from the government, the right leadership, from from commercial industry, and from the appropriate scientists on the planet to say, you know, this is important for science to take a shot at. I'm going to bring in now here a brief question from the app. Which button you've just answered. Peter, Mark Owensby says, Is it possible to offer a prize pending funding? This would make it more concrete to potential investors ie: The Gates Foundation? Yeah, I mean, the short answer is is no, I think it discredits the rest of the prizes.
You know, we when we launch a prize, we enter into a contractual agreement with the teams through a master team agreement in which we say if you accomplish A, B and C in a in the measure in this fallen way, then we'll write you a check for this amount. But it's not just the money of course, it's promoting them to the world. And for us, the worst that can happen is a lot of energy happens a lot of people and then never never materializes. I remember, it took me we announced in May of 96, I met Newsha Ansari, who is now the CEO of the XPRIZE she funded our first XPRIZE we named it the Ansari XPRIZE and her honor, she's since travelled to the space station privately and very proud. She came back three years ago to serve as the CEO of the organization, she runs it I served as executive chairman.
During the five years between announcing the prize and finally and God knows, I asked 150 people to fund that $10 million prize and everyone said, can anyone really do it? isn't someone gonna die trying and you know, why isn't acid doing it? Ultimately, I had teams calling me every week saying we're building our ship. We've had a reliance on you. Are you visiting funded yet? I just wanted to go through that again. I think we've got time for one more short question. Gentleman over here has been waiting for some time.
My name is Dan Shumsky, I'm an independent scholar. And I guess the I'm relating to what you're saying about the review of these projects, and I'm Think back to Thomas Kuhn and his Structure of Scientific Revolution, in which he talks about the person who comes up with the paradigm as being someone who is, first of all brand new to the field, an outsider, someone who doesn't really have the background to do what they are doing. And I think about the review process that goes on in the science community today, and the review process that you have to undergo, which is, I hope somewhat different because ... success in this field is at risk is risky to everybody else in the field, right? When you have a breakthrough, it means a new paradigm the experts no longer the experts there has bins. So you have a disincentive in some degree to have a transformation in any revolution in any field. It and so the existing players may not want you to succeed.
The scientific principles have to be open to question and open to acceptance in a different light Thank Thank you, sir. I'm afraid we're out of time. So I'd just like you all to join me in thanking Peter for what I found to be a really fascinating conversation.