In one of those fun, wild science chats, both Google Ventures’ Bill Maris and XPRIZE head Peter Diamandis discussed a gamut of moonshots, including life extension research, sentient robots, and self-driving cars versus those that can fly.
“In the future, the idea of putting a sixteen-year-old behind the wheel of a 5,000-pound machine will seem ludicrous,” Diamandis said onstage at the Wall Street Journal Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, Tuesday.
Maris added that his brand new baby boy probably wouldn’t even want to drive. “The likelihood of my seven-week-old son wanting a car one day is zero,” Maris said.
Both Maris and Diamandis are keen on transportation – especially in space. XPRIZE runs the Google Lunar Challenge, a $30 million competition encouraging startups and engineering teams to come up with better ways to boost space exploration.
“Back to the Future had nothing on what transportation will really be like in the future,” Maris said, referring to the hit movie trilogy (Oct 21, 2015, aka tomorrow, holds a special place for fans of the movie as the day Doc Brown and Marty McFly travel to the future in a flying car, by the way).
However, Maris also noted he’d trade flying cars for the ability to decode DNA. “In 1985 we didn’t have the tech to decode your DNA,” he said.
In the future, the idea of putting a sixteen-year-old behind the wheel of a 5,000-pound machine will seem ludicrous. Peter Diamandis
We’ve come such a long way in the last thirty years with technology to clip and paste snippets of DNA in little microorganisms and catch mutations, debilitating genetic diseases and the like. “We can predict a photograph of your face based on your genome,” Diamandis said. He then added that we have the technology to predict how a person will look years out as they age as well.
Maris concentrates a heavy amount of investment to the life sciences and has for a good number of years. According to Maris, at least thirty percent of the portfolio focuses on life sciences. “There’s a lot of talk of redistribution of wealth, but redistribution of health is more interesting to me.” he said.
Part of those redistribution investments include food companies like Impossible Foods, a tech startup making a plant-based meat substitute it hopes will shake up the meat industry. Maris, a strict vegetarian has tasted the product and told the packed audience it was “disturbingly too close to the real thing.”
However, both also cautioned against making products that only fit with the Silicon Valley crowd. “If we live in a world where the technology we’re talking about is only for rich white people in Silicon Valley, then we’ve failed,” said Maris.