grand ch3333

Grand Challenges create a new vision of the future.

Tom Kalil of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy gave a presentation today about Grand Challenges, such as the ones proposed by futurist Thomas Frey HERE. Kalil called them “ambitious yet achievable goals that capture the public’s imagination and that require innovation and breakthroughs in science and technology to achieve,” like NASA’s Green Flight Challenge and the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health. I think Tom’s speech, delivered to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, does a terrific job showing why the grand challenge approach is a powerful way to tackle some pretty daunting problems. He also puts grand challenges in the context of President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation. (By the way, it must be nice to be authorized to use the Presidential PowerPoint template.) From Tom’s speech

As President Kennedy observed, “By defining our goal more clearly, by making it seem more manageable and less remote, we can help all peoples to see it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistibly towards it.”

Although there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a Grand Challenge, I want to focus on Grand Challenges that have the following attributes.

First, they can have a major impact in domains such as health, energy, sustainability, education, economic opportunity, national security, or human exploration.

Second, they are ambitious but achievable. Proposing to end scarcity in five years is certainly ambitious, but it is not achievable. As Arthur Sulzberger put it, “I believe in an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”

Third, Grand Challenges are compelling and intrinsically motivating. They should capture the public’s imagination.

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Via Boing Boing