Five Questions: Peter Diamandis

Peter Diamandis fills us in on entrepreneurship.

By Susan Burns February 3, 2015

Engineer, physician, entrepreneur and author Peter Diamandis speaks around the world about innovative problem solving. The founder of 15 tech companies, co-founder of two universities, and the creator of the X Prize Foundation, an educational nonprofit focused on breakthroughs that will benefit humanity, Diamandis will speak at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation 2015 Better Together Luncheon Feb. 24 at noon under a tent on the Van Wezel bayfront lawn.

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Q. What is the most exciting technology or methodology coming down the pike and how will it transform our economy and lives?

“Artificial Intelligence (AI), the ability of a computer to listen to you, your conversations, and understand desires and provide you the answers or take the actions you need to fulfill those desires. It’s been called the last invention humanity will ever need to create. AI will ultimately help bring the capability of Jarvis (from Iron Man) or HAL (from 2001: A Space Odyssey) into existence. Some like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking have voiced significant concerns. Others like Larry Page and Ray Kurzweil feel that such concerns are a long way off and, frankly, that humanity has always co-evolved with technology and will continue to do so. Next on my list is 3D printing, a technology which has the ability to disrupt a $10 trillion-dollar manufacturing industry.”

Q. How can a retirement and tourist-dominated county like Sarasota attract the entrepreneurs of the future?

“Many cities around the world are trying to replicate what Silicon Valley has created. Entrepreneurs are attracted to two things: (1) venture investment capital; and (2) other entrepreneurs. It’s about creating sufficient density of both.”

Q. What is the biggest mistake companies make today?

“Companies today make many mistakes. They get overly comfortable. Instead they need to figure out how to disrupt themselves before someone disrupts them. Large companies focus on incremental progress, where they should be looking at moon shots. Some of the most exciting and successful companies that have taken moon shots outside of their comfort zone include Apple, basically reinventing the music business and the smart phone industry, Microsoft entering the game business with Xbox, or Google entering the automotive business with their autonomous cars or the maps/navigation business with Google Maps.”

Q. What qualities do you look for in an entrepreneur?

“Simple: passion and curiosity.”

Q. What are the biggest challenges and advantages for the future prosperity of the U.S.?

“The biggest challenge is over-regulation. The government’s primary objective is stability, but during a period of exponential growth, the only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing. Over-regulation simply means that the technology created here in the U.S. goes to other countries. The biggest advantage we have is the entrepreneurial mindset and the willingness to take huge risks.” ■ by Susan Burns

Tickets to the Better Together Luncheon are $50. This event may sell out. To see if seats are still available, visit

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