“Hi Gideon, welcome to X, it’s your first day.”
From the moment new Xers step inside the Factory, they’re asked to behave in hard, counter-intuitive ways — to embrace uncertainty, surf chaos, and resist the gravitational pull of the ordinary. In this conversation, Captain of Moonshots Astro Teller brings MIT Technology Review’s Gideon Lichfield through his hypothetical first day at X — sharing what we’ve learned over the last decade about creating a culture of radical creativity and innovation where creativity and serendipity are the norm.Astro also shared more on X’s newest moonshots, including Project Tidal, which has a mission to protect the ocean and feed humanity sustainably, and Project Mineral, which is developing new technologies to help build a more sustainable, resilient, and productive food system. He also shared a peek at Mineral’s plant buggies, and more about the iteration process to develop the plant-peeping robots — which included testing whether lasers or paintballs work better to whack weeds (neither are optimal, it turns out).
And if you’re curious about Astro’s flying pig flag: it’s a reminder that in innovation, and in real life, there’s a “whole bunch of stuff that you can try that has a 1 in 10 chance of working out… but a 100x return if it does.” So how do you encourage people to try the things that have a 90% chance of failing, but just might lead to a radical breakthrough? Put in “cultural infrastructure” that encourages people to take smart risks, rewards them for expected utility, not output — and keeps us all searching for the next flying pig just over the horizon.