Launch Pad: Neural Computing & A Lifetime of Innovation

Karl Ulrich describes Dan Goldin as “thinking in galactic terms,” and that’s exactly what makes their conversation so deeply fascinating.

Dan’s very first job was at NASA, where “we were doing the Apollo program I was working to build ion engines and plasma engines powered by a nuclear power source to take astronauts to Mars.” After that, “I ended up developing proof that direct broadcast TV works and we could go from giant dishes that used to be outside businesses and bars and illuminate just an 18 inch dish, which we now have ubiquitous around the world. I did that experiment in 1976. I’ve developed blue green lasers to communicate under the ocean. I’ve had the opportunity after I worked in national security for a giant aerospace firm, I ran one of the larger space activities in the world, I got a call from the President of the United States and he wanted to know if I would be willing to run NASA. I did that for ten years under three presidents.”

Dan ran NASA. For ten years.

You want to know what an innovator sounds like? Listen to this interview, for an intriguing glimpse inside the mind of a person who has literally spent a lifetime pushing the boundaries of the possible.

That’s right: a lifetime. Dan Goldin is currently in his mid-70s, and he’s been working on his latest startup, KnuEdge, for the past decade.

KnuEdge is suitably big picture. Dan doesn’t waste his time on the little stuff. He quotes an ad he ran early on, looking for people to work with him on the project: “If you’re an incrementalist looking to make improvements on existing technology looking for ten, 20, 30 percent improvement, afraid of failure, you need not apply. But if you’re not afraid of failure, shooting for orders of magnitude, come on and join us.”

As for what KnuEdge actually does: “We want to do nothing less than change how people partner with machines. We want anyone to have a capacity to have a powerful artificial intelligence experience with anyone anywhere and on any device. We want it to be frictionless, we want it to be easy to use. And most of all we want to empower individuals and corporations. And we hope to be ubiquitous.”

Do yourself a favor and listen to this interview; it will be one of the most interesting things you hear this week, for sure. And you may just get inspired to try to have as innovative a life as Dan Goldin.