Innovation chief says “pressure test” your pet hypothesis. It’s guaranteed to be wrong.
His grandfather, a member of Oppenheimer’s atomic bomb team, foresaw the potential of nuclear energy to power cities – not destroy them. Today, Astro Teller is on a mission to harness innovation for good. Here’s how he’s doing it.
Inside X, Google's top-secret moonshot factory
X – formerly Google X – aims to pursue technological breakthroughs by taking crazy ideas seriously. Wired takes a look at whether the factory is working as intended.
Climate Crisis Mitigation and Adaptation at X
NPR's Marketplace goes deep with Astro on the climate crisis and projects at X that could help to mitigate the problem or help humanity adapt to our changing planet.
Sexism Can and Must Be Fixed
Workplace gender inequality is an issue that has upset me for many years, both because it’s unfair to women and because systematically discouraging and discounting 51% of the human race is incredibly wasteful. It’s the single biggest fixable problem humanity has. It wasn’t until Me Too, however, that I realized...
Q&A about Making Moonshots
The head of Alphabet’s secretive R&D lab recently saw two of his far-out projects become stand-alone businesses. But with Google’s ad sales beginning to slow, he may have to think even bigger.
Google X and the Science of Radical Creativity
A snake-robot designer, a balloon scientist, a liquid-crystals technologist, an extradimensional physicist, a psychology geek, an electronic-materials wrangler, and a journalist walk into a room. The journalist turns to the assembled crowd and asks: Should we build houses on the ocean?
Astro Teller has an unusual way of starting a new project: He tries to kill it. Teller is the head of X, formerly called Google X, the advanced technology lab of Alphabet. At X’s headquarters not far from the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., Teller leads a group of engineers, inventors, and designers devoted to futuristic “moonshot” projects like self-driving cars, delivery drones, and Internet-beaming balloons. To turn their wild ideas into reality, Teller and his team have developed a unique approach. It starts with...
They Promised Us Jet Packs
Project Foghorn is one of those straight-from-science-fiction concepts we’ve come to expect from Alphabet, the sprawling conglomerate formerly known as Google. The idea, hatched by the company’s X research lab, was to use seawater and chemistry to create fuel that could be refined into gasoline. This gas would be just like the gas we fill our cars with today — except that unlike today’s gas, it would not add to global warming because it would recycle carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.
Google[x] Head Astro Teller Says Moonshots Are All About Embracing Failure
Google’s ‘Captain of Moonshots’ Astro Teller admitted to a packed crowd at SXSW that a number of Google[x] projects have experienced a series of “bumps and scrapes” over the last five years. But he also highlighted how the Google lab attempts to overcome those issues and “embrace failure” in projects that aren’t going so well. The secret lab has since spun out 10 different projects that involve everything from biotechnology, robots and cancer detection nanotechnology...
Astro Teller: How Google X works
There are few people more qualified to talk about shaping the future than Google’s Astro Teller. His official title the oh-so-Googley “Captain of Moonshots.” His day job is running Google X, which the company calls its “moonshot factory.” It’s where Google GOOG 13.31% is developing self-driving cars, Glass (its glasses-like wearable computer), Loon (a project to deliver Internet access worldwide through high-altitude balloons), Makani (an effort to generate energy through high-flying wind turbines), and ingestible nanoparticles that would detect cancer and other diseases. Teller works closely with CEO Larry Page...
The Truth About Google X: An Exclusive Look Behind the Secretive Lab's Closed Doors
Astro Teller is sharing a story about something bad. Or maybe it's something good. At Google X, it's sometimes hard to know the difference. Teller is the scientist who directs day-to-day work at the search giants intensely private innovation lab, which is devoted to finding unusual solutions to huge global problems. He isn't the president or chairman of X, however; his actual title, as his etched-glass business card proclaims, is Captain of Moonshots--"moonshots" being his catchall description for audacious innovations that have a slim chance of succeeding but might revolutionize the world if they do...
Inside Google's Secret Lab
Last February, Astro Teller, the director of Googles (GOOG) secretive research lab, Google X, went to seek approval from Chief Executive Officer Larry Page for an unlikely acquisition. Teller was proposing that Google buy Makani Power, a startup that develops wind turbines mounted on unmanned, fixed-wing aircraft tethered to the ground like a kite. The startup, Teller told Page, was seeing promising results, and, he added proudly, its prototypes had survived all recent tests intact.
What Do I Know? A life's recounting in the subject's own words
I'm an entrepreneur, the CEO of a company. That takes up a lot of my time. But I love playing with my kids, doing things with friends and getting exercise. I've also found that I need artistic stimulation to exercise the other part of my brain. That's one of the reasons I write. It helps me to recharge, to gain other perspectives and to practice being creative. I believe that one of the keys to a healthy life is balance.
40 Under 40
“40 Under 40” recognizes 40 talented individuals under the age of 40 who are making a positive impact on the region’s development. Chosen from a nomination pool of more than 150 candidates, this year’s honorees were determined by an independent panel of 12 judges, comprised of former winners, business professionals and civic leaders. Winners were chosen based on their passion, commitment, visibility, diversity of interests and overall positive impact on the region.
Doctors tell us whats wrong with our bodies today. Computer scientist Astro Teller says his software will predict what is going wrong tomorrow. Eric Teller's Ph.D. is in artificial intelligence, but his practice is more in medicine. He collects numbers, lots of them, from tiny computers silently monitoring subtle changes on thousands of bodies. "Your body is spewing off millions of data points a second," he says.
Technology Elite Are Focusing Next On Human Body
Scientists, technologists, doctors, entrepreneurs and drug company executives gather in Philadelphia for first-ever 'Tedmed' conference, where they explore ramifications of widening array of technological tools that could significantly improve human health and longevity; leaders of medical technology start-up companies represented at conference say they are managing to attract investor interest.
Armed for Success
What's more amazing than Astro Teller's new wearable body monitor? How a sci-fi novelist with little business cred landed the funding to sell it. Strap the silver-blue gizmo to your bicep and, in an instant, your body goes on trial for sloth. Through your skin, metallic sensors take readings of body motion, heat, and sweat. Inside, software algorithms translate the data into a constant reading of your body's energy burn rate -- when driving to work, running a marathon, or reading this story. (Pull one on before you go to bed and it'll report back on how many times you woke during the night.)
A gathering of geniuses confront a simple question: Why do we know more about our cars than our own bodies?
The Young and the Restless: Pittsburgh's Innovators Cut Across Industry Lines, Blur Passion with Business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it," according to Astro Teller, CEO of BodyMedia, a Downtown outfit that researches, manufactures and sells wearable body monitors.
In Sickness and Health, Biometrics Field Grows
The marketplace is getting crowded with devices that monitor your vital signs, then transmit the data to a wristwatch, Web site, or a nursing station across town. But that raises a vital question for the makers of these "biometric" gadgets: Is the big money to be made in sickness, or in health?
BodyMedia Gets Cash, And an Important Partner
After about four months of negotiation, the fledgling health-information company struck a deal with a local giant: the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which will partner with BodyMedia to do research into several areas, primarily sleep and weight loss. As a key part of the deal, UPMC has given BodyMedia a much-needed cash infusion of more than $2 million in the form of a convertible note. The company won't disclose details.
Talking ... Health Care With Astro Teller
Highlights from a conversation with Astro Teller and The Wall Street Journal about BodyMedia's recent agreement with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
New Age BodyMedia Weathers Market Fallout
Trying to challenge the status quo in health care is no picnic. Even Hillary Clinton failed. BodyMedia Inc. -- 22 months old, 40 employees, almost no revenue -- is an unlikely change agent. Yet here it is in a neo-industrial setting on the edge of downtown Pittsburgh with $8 million in financing and a dream.
Little Search Engine Gone Beserk
Astro Teller, Ph.D. student in computer science, walks down dimly lit corridor in Wean Hall. "This place always reminds of the catacombs in Paris," he says as he passes a wall of shelves packed with dusty computer terminals, monitors, keyboards and control panels with switches. Some terminals are labeled "good" or "bad." One of many computer graveyards at Carnegie Mellon, it always makes Teller feel uneasy.
Creating a Virtual Frankenstein
Teller, '92, MS '93, says he followed the classic advice: Write about what you know. As a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, one of the leading centers on artificial intelligence, Teller knows computers and their potential. In the overcrowded cinder-block office he shares with three other graduate students, he works on programs designed to solve problems as deceptively simple as recognizing differences between a hat and a shoe. "The goal is to get computers to do the complicated visual processing that humans do without even thinking about it," he says. "It's a process that's not well understood, as much an art as a science."
Astro Teller Brings Frankenstein into Computer Age
His father's father developed the hydrogen bomb. His mother's father won a Nobel Prize for economics. At 26, Astro Teller is gaining attention, not for his family tree, but for his work in artificial intelligence, which he defines as "the science of how to get machines to do the things they do in the movies," and for his new novel, a comic-tragedy set in cyberspace.
The Man Machine
"I'm a romantic by nature. I like to tackle problems that most people don't have any idea how to solve. I try to think creatively, on the fringe," bright-eyed computer wonk and fledgling fictionist Astro Teller tells me, brushing back his shoulder length mane of frizzy hair at a bustling outdoor cafe in the heart of Silicon Valley. As professed by this 26-year-old grandson of Edward Teller, inventor of a little thermonuclear device called the hydrogen bomb, such zeal for exploring the unknwon might be cause for stockpiling the basement with canned peaches and tuning into the emergency broadcast station. Lucky for us that Teller, unlike his infamous grandfather, is more interested in digital daydreaming at his artificial-intelligence lab than in blowing up stuff real good.
This month, Vintage is reintroducing its line of original paperback fiction, with the first novel by Astro (yes, Astro) Teller. Vintage has such grand hopes for young Teller's Exegesis that it's printing a hungred thousand copies. Twenty-six, a Ph.D. candidate in artificial intelligence at Carnegie Mellon, with a terrifically brainy pedigree (he is of the atomic Tellers), the author's got cybercelebrity written all over him. And at only eleven dollars a pop (and at only 224 easy-to-read pages), Exegesis—in which an excitable woman grad student's computer project takes on a life of its own—might, indeed, turn out to be a Big Book.
Face to Face
You've heard of struggling artists. But how about two guys so intent on making their exhibition a success that they plan to mug everyone who comes to it? You're forewarned, but don't be afraid: The only mug they want is an image of your face. In fact, their interactive installation takes people's pictures and incorporates them into itself. Spectators become the art. Without them, the art doesn't exist.