Nearly one billion people on Earth lack adequate access to safe drinking water and 1.5 million children die per year of water-borne diseases. In terms of supply, 97 percent of the Earth’s water is salt water and an additional two percent is tied up in polar ice caps, leaving less than one percent as accessible fresh water. Although approximately 70 percent of the world’s population lives on coastlines, readily available seawater cannot be converted to drinking water because current desalination technologies are expensive and energy-intensive.
Rare diseases, defined as those diseases affecting less than 200,000 people, are often ignored in traditional life sciences R&D, leaving many unknowns in regard to their causality and development. An important mechanism to unlocking this area lies with first understanding the genetic sequence of a population of patients with the rare (or orphan) diseases. With this XPRIZE, it is possible for rare diseases to be more easily studied and the genetic basis of their diseases determined.
Today, there is a shortage of available transplantable organs. More than 100,000 people in the U.S. are on a waiting list for an organ and nearly 10,000 patients die while on long waiting lists for compatible organs. Even for those that do receive transplants, the toll of immunosuppressive drugs is also high because the majority of them act non-selectively. With this prize, the solid organ transplant wait list can be eliminated and the number of lives saved by organ/tissue replacement can be increased.
The ability to determine with 100 percent accuracy whether a person is telling the truth would transform our legal system, and potentially liberate many individuals incarcerated incorrectly in our prison systems. Today, there is no system able to accomplish this. Breakthroughs in brain computer interface and brain imaging systems could provide a viable solution.
Given the march of technology and the expansion of humanity over the surface of Earth, we are living during one of the highest rates of species extinction in the history of this planet. The goal of this XPRIZE is to find a safe, repeatable, and reliable fashion to bring back extinct species to rebuild a population.
This competition offers two benefits to humanity. First, the ability to increase the number and availability of transplantable organs for patients with organ failure; and second, the ability to move forward the science of human cryopreservation which offers the ability to preserve patients with incurable diseases until a time when medical science has sufficiently progressed to be able to treat the disease.
Understanding the functioning of the brain is an ongoing Grand Challenge in life sciences. The objective of this XPRIZE is to develop a reliable, non-harmful interface between the digital world and the human cortex. These capabilities, at a minimum, will be beneficial to those with various neuromuscular diseases (ALS, MS, spinal cord injuries), but in its most impactful future would allow the co-evolution of humanity and the digital world.
Exponential acceleration of genomic sequencing and manipulation capabilities is quickly bringing us into an era where designer organisms unlike anything on Earth are fully possible. In addition to potential benefits for future human Mars exploration, such a high profile project could be an exciting catalyst for other efforts in synthetic biology.
Machine systems that can mimic the behavior of living plants by making nearly complete copies of themselves using local energy and materials can help address large-scale energy and environmental challenges. These self-replicating systems promise to revolutionize manufacturing and enable large-scale renewable energy production, global environmental remediation and ultimately the long-term exploration of space.