Amazing People Game Changers

Richard Garriott is an American video game developer and entrepreneur. He is also the only person on the planet to have explored extremes of the known accessible universe, including the North and South Poles and the Marianna Trench, (the deepest oceanic location on Earth.) In January 2021, Garriott was elected president of the world-famous Explorer’s Club, a community of prestigious history making geographical pathfinders.

[Applause] [Music] so [Music] richard garriott is the president of the
explorers club and he's going to talk about exploration both in a big macro sort of universal sense and also in a more focused way he's the only person in the world to have visited space both the north and south pole and the lowest physical point on the planet he's an adventurer a video game entrepreneur and president of the most important exploration organization in the world he's someone you your children your grandchildren would love to meet please welcome richard garriott [Music] well thank you all so very much for inviting me out here randy and your whole team is phenomenal uh to be out here with you today all of you here today too i've had a chance to talk with some of you yesterday at uh when i arrived and many of you at lunch are in the halls and uh of course listening to these fine speakers is just an amazing opportunity for all of us i think
and uh sean i don't know if you made it back to your seat yet but uh you know he was mentioning how all these other people these other artists were sort of inspired to make that leap and i wanted to share that actually ad hoc here at the beginning of mine you know my my father was also an astronaut my father was an ass astronaut my my neighbors were astronaut joe ingle was an astronaut to my right hoot gibson an astronaut lived to my left all the mercury and gemini apollo people lived near next door or nearby and uh and even uh you know in my neighborhood or at my home we were always we always had the best techno toys you could possibly imagine you know as my childhood play things i was grow as i was growing up but then at the age of 13 the nasa doctor who was our family doctor was giving me an eye test determined that i was going to need glasses and very flippantly told me oh richard i hate to break it to you but because you need glasses you are no longer eligible to be an astronaut
and at that moment i was horrified because i was still too young to have ever decided if i wanted to be an astronaut i just assumed we were all going to go to space one day because every adult i knew was involved in going to space and here i was being kicked out before i even had the chance to think about it and after a few days of you know fretting about it i finally concluded who are you doctor to be the gatekeeper space if i can't go by the nasa rules i'm going to make my own space agency and that's what i did and so i'll tell you part of that in this story here um uh you know as i think about exploration you know exploration has always been a defining aspect of the human experience and we explored for a variety of reasons whether it was to chase down the prey that was running away from us whether it was to solve various problems of you know finding better comfort or a tool or or opportunities we always spread out as soon as we
existed and while it took four billion years for humans to evolve on this planet it only took 300 000 years for us to cover the entire planet except antarctica but that that first 300 000 years took us up to about 200 years ago and 200 years ago we've arrived at the first 1 billion people after 300 000 years and in the last 200 years due to a lot of the health improvements you saw on some earlier slides from other people we've now shot from 1 billion people to almost 8 billion people and growing here on the surface the planet and i'm sure you would understand that that is going to put that's a enormous impact that it is now putting on the planet and in 2008 when i had the opportunity to fly on the international space station for a few weeks it was very obvious looking down at the earth just you know subjectively but then you come back down to the ground and you look up the data and objectively it tells you the same
that humanity is now using resources at about 1.5 times the earth's ability to produce those resources and so that means we absolutely have a substantial impasse ahead of us and that impasse means we have really one of two choices one is that we're gonna have to deal with massive resource rationing and scarcity or we're gonna have to spend a lot more time and effort in exploration to both understand what we where you know what resources we can still use or find new resources find out how our large-scale systems work of life on this planet to know what we should protect and frankly how we should protect it and that brings us back over to people who go out as explorers uh of which i like to count myself now too you know and what's interesting this organization that i'm currently president of it's the it was actually
started 118 years ago in 1904 in what i like to describe as the heroic age of exploration and uh i've put some pictures down here of some of our very first few presidents the the portrait in the middle which used to hung in the united states capital is from the greeley expedition where they went up to the north pole to see or towards the north pole to see how far north they could get ended up getting stranded for three years 26 men went in only six survived and had to cannibalize a lot of the others that uh that died along the way and that's the person who became the first president of the explorers club you know the guy you see there with a leopard he was a a a guy named carl akeley he was a the person who made all the taxidermy that hangs the museum of natural history in new york and he was attacked by that leopard which was eating him alive and in a last desperate move he shoved his arm down its throat made a fist and twisted and managed to suffocate the leopard before he had his arm chewed off as you can see his arm in the sling
and another early uh president uh freuken there on the right uh mountain of a man wearing his polar bear coat uh his wife was one of the leaders of vogue magazine there sitting on his on his left and he got also trapped in the arctic uh his leg froze on one expedition it began to gan green and he was a surgeon so he cut it off and so he has a you can't see his peg leg there on his peg leg left leg and so that's that's that heroic age so fortunately we've come a long way since uh but the explorers club along the way we we kind of keep a list of what we think of as the famous first the things that the biggest adventures the biggest successes they've had and in 1909 perry hinson and four inuits uttar ukwei siglu and peningua those last four we're going to be celebrating actually the club next month they made it to north pole in 1911 the south pole was reached by a norwegian team a british team was hot on their heels got their second and all
died on the way out 1953 tenzing norgay and edmund hillary made it at the top of the of everest uh in 1960 don walsh who's a good friend of mine at the explorers club and jacques picard became the first people to get down to the bottom of the mariana trench a place i visited a year ago this week and the bottom of the marian entrance by the way has only been visited one other time in history prior to the vehicle i'll talk about in a minute and in 1969 you're all aware we saw some footage of uh you know people making it to the moon with neil and buzz and interestingly the last in-person big event we did at the explorers club was to celebrate you know the surviving at the time apollo astronauts uh two of these gentlemen have actually since then passed but uh in the explorers club we had that's a membership card of werner von braun down there at the bottom and the application of president teddy roosevelt who was a member of the explorers club too but the picture in the bottom right is my daughter because my daughter got up on stage and asked these gentlemen at
the end of the time i had on stage to be asking him questions about space travel and she asked why are there no women up there and it was rusty swaggart who had the best answer he actually said he knows king and he said kanga it's because we are a lot smarter now than we were back then and that is true now across the explorers club and all fields of i think science and exploration you know for 40 years now we've been really uh advancing and celebrating uh uh women explorers you see you might recognize dr sylvia earl in the upper left or kathy sullivan another fellow astronaut who went down also to the mariana trench checks went down before me so she's the she's the first person to go space to deep and i became the second person first man to go space to deep but i had to put on my pins for north pole and south pole because she hasn't done both of those yet so i still have around one but this is an important initiative we have these days too which is we noticed that if you look at the history of exploration
it still is dominated by european ancestry you know older tending to be male individuals and and we you know even 40 years ago we began to really purpose we try to make sure we celebrated not only everybody that was on these expeditions because it was usually only one european with a lot of other people from other parts of the world uh but we now cast a much wider net and so last year we did the first and right now we're doing the second we're getting ready to publish it what we call is the explorers club 50. 50 people changing the world that the world needs to know about and by casting a global net by really looking for who are the people all around the globe that are making a difference just by casting a global eye you end up picking people of all different parts of the world by plan but you get different races a bit different ethnicities different genders of course uh different uh religions uh and all kinds of other circumstances and when we published about a year ago this first explorers club 50
if you look at the picture on the the upper picture on the right uh the woman in the middle is dr cyan proctor who we first celebrated as a member of the explorers club 50 but then she was selected to be part of the inspiration for the first fully private space mission on spacex recently last summer what i find most interesting is that you know in contrast to that heroic age of exploration where people risked and often lost lost life and limb i now really do believe that we're in a new golden age of exploration and that golden age is is brought into being by a lot of things you've already been hearing about today which is these exponential technologies that we're in that you know we're now at at a time where not only is health being impacted not only uh is obvious computing power not only is military offense and defense being you know deeply impacted but so is exploration you know we're now opening
opening new frontiers that we didn't have access to before but also being able to re-example uh old frontiers in ways that we never could even just 10 years ago uh all because of this exponential technology and i i think it was mentioned in my introduction but i haven't really talked about it that you know my my first career the thing that actually funded all of my exploration is i'm actually a video game developer so right about the same time the doctor was telling me that i couldn't go to space i also discovered computers and i became one of the first people ever to develop computer games and the word even though one of you guys are at least old enough most of the audiences i talk to aren't old enough to have played them but i wrote a series of games called ultima that unless you were hardcore gamers you wouldn't know but the word avatar which is obviously pretty ubiquitous now comes from my games the category of games referred to as massively multiplayer which is now the most popular category comes from my games and and that allowed me to join organizations like the explorers club and i actually got to help build companies with with by using this
exponential technology i actually helped found companies and and organizations to open up the polls and the deep sea and space to exploration and uh you know and i think all of you have seen things like you know elon musk's spacex rockets able to land themselves which seems pretty darn miraculous except that it's really basically a segway it's a rocket with the same kind of balancing technology inside of it you think of as a segway uh you know simple thing you could your kids buy now as a as a toy or more specifically even virgin galactic which was based out of something called the x prize that a group of us put together or blue origin which is now of course taking quite a few people to space in this last year um but i would argue that since space is sort of by my my primary interest of exploration um i would argue that the commercial space race really began about in 1998 and that's when we kicked off this thing called the x prize we put up a 10 million dollar prize for the first private vehicle to fly twice into space
we backed that up with a company called zero g corp that does parabolic flights to give you a taste of zero gravity uh so that people could see what space was like or feel what it's like and we started a company called space adventures to book seats on what we thought would be purely suborbital vehicles to prove there was a market so that if you could win the prize if you bothered to spend money to win the prize you could be confident you could actually ultimately make money at it with the vehicle that you brought into existence and the vehicle that won the xprize now hangs in the smithsonian right next to the wright brothers plane but you know if you if you think about what was blocking space travel you know my and i mentioned my father being an astronaut he flew twice once on the space shuttle and before that he flew on a sky lab but back in his day and especially on the space shuttle you know space access was expensive and dangerous really dangerous but by the way it was you know a few hundred million dollars per passenger to just in
hard costs uh and you know mathematically predicted and in fact happened a one out of seventy catastrophic failure ending in death so if something is that expensive and that risky it makes sense that it would be pretty darn uncommon but if you look around other forms of transportation that's not been true so if you're looking at planes or cars or boats or trains all of them have had the economics of only costing about three times as much as you put in it in energy to operate it and the next three times multiplier is just to pay for depreciation and maintenance of the vehicle but space vehicles were more than a hundred times the cost of the fuel that went into the pay and that's mostly because you were throwing away the rocket and building a new one so if you imagine buying a new car at the car lot filling up with your first tank of gas at the end of that drive you crush the car and buy a new car you know you wouldn't drive very often it would only be used for the really most incredibly valuable things you can imagine but that's really what's changing so rapidly and not only have you seen elon
landing rockets but down there in boca chica texas he's building this new vehicle that i literally was down there visiting i was down here 10 days ago crawling all around their manufacturing and launch facilities and uh i i know i was already believers i'm also by the way tipping i'm an investor too so i have a bias but uh but i actually believe you know they have a good chance of making it pretty close to the numbers they've claimed where elon has gone out and said things like he thinks he can get it down to about half a million dollars to take somebody all the way to mars where today it still costs about 50 million dollars just to go to orbit and that's because this vehicle is completely reusable i mean there is nothing about this thing that is not reusable it is even mechanically you know it doesn't even it doesn't even use explosive bolts to get off the pad it has you know mechanical releases there's there's no explosive bolts separating stages you can just restack it and re-light it i mean they're they're really focused on no waste in the reuse of the vehicle uh to get down to that three times multiple that everything else has
and and of course once you get down that low you can also do point to point anywhere on earth so you know in 45 minutes that's the time in orbit it takes to go to the opposite side of the earth that's point to point anywhere on earth in 45 minutes that he thinks you get down to somewhere in the range of a thousand dollars a seat and it's just a really truly a game changer and what's important about this you're like right now a lot of people see the commercial space race and all these you know billionaire yahoos flying themselves into space and they begrudge that you know how is this helping humans on earth or how is this going to allow me to go and i think they're missing the big picture which is you have to go through this you know we're coming from a time it was hundreds of millions and 170 chance of death and we're down to the point where some wealthy people could afford it so good thing they're willing to risk their spend their money and risk their lives to keep pushing it down even lower but we're getting close to this inflection point where you know i actually did a lot of work a lot of commercial work on my own flight but i i spent a few tens of millions and i earned back a few ones of millions so it was still a loss
but if but in this rate within a year or two i would have made a profit and as soon as i can make a profit with my own time and space i'm going every chance i get and i predict a lot of you will too and there's a lot of young people who will choose to do that too and so we're really headed that way the same thing's happening with the extreme depths uh the trieste i mentioned my friend don wall she went down there in 1960 the year before i was born and that vehicle could only go once and now it hangs in a museum then james cameron went 2012 so it was almost 50 years until somebody went a second time james cameron went in a one-person submarine that could only survive the journey once and that brought us up to the vehicle that i used my friend victor viscovo spent his own money to build this machine and it's the first vehicle that can now make repeated full ocean depth dives and is now opening up the 80 percent of the world's oceans which before this machine were completely unvisited and now finally he's actually already
taken this down a hundred times to depths you know on the order of you know 10 000 meters or so and as i mentioned uh you know uh he took down kathy sullivan and then later more recently about a year ago he took me down and by the way for that he's now he's one of our recent what we call explorers club medalist that's our that's our highest award for exploration was given to victor viscovo and you know what's amazing too is what all these satellites are bringing back for explorers for example just in this last couple of years we've begun to find lost fortress cities that are that are out buried in the sahara and you know when people you know if you go explore the sahara by a car you're going to see a lot of sand and probably not much else but when you're observing it from space and watching the sand dunes move and therefore you periodically see the rock that's underneath those sand dunes or use various wavelengths of light to do spectral analysis you can see things through a thin sheet of vegetation or
sand to begin to see things like all these ancient ruins that when once the sahara was not a desert we can then go back out at the right time when the dunes are away when they've moved on and go back and do archaeological work in these sites and the same thing is true for finding lost cities down in the rainforests of central and south america that i have a bunch of our explorer friends are literally every year going out and finding completely undiscovered cities largely with satellite telemetry even places that are well known uh like uh this uh ancient mayan city of takal uh now that we have you know again better uh satellite radar technologies and and other forms of wavelengths of light that we use uh we're seeing that these these cities were far larger than even modern uh archaeologists had known uh that we're finding out through satellite imagery and then we go back to the biological world i know you've heard a lot of people talking about that here today
we now have these portable dna sequencers that are allowing us to really canvas the microscopic world in ways that we hadn't known before and uh and now literally instead of you know taking one sample a month at a far away place we can take these with us and sample the entire surface of the earth at a much more uh finite level and the last one i'll talk to here because i just now noticed i'm running out of time here i'm slightly over on my time is d extinction uh i have to be an investor in a company called colossal it is uh has been sending people out in the field to bring back woolly mammoth flesh to the harvard lab of uh uh george church uh he's now been backed with a large sum of money and spun that out privately and they have already not only acquired the flesh of wooly mammoths they've already done the full gene sequence they've got the gene sequence of the uh indian elephant that's closest living relative they know the 60 key genes that they need to switch the software solution of how to use crispr to re-edit those genes back
to effectively being a woolly mammoth are now in progress and when as soon as they believe they have that genome completely reconstructed they plan to insert it into an asian elephant egg and will give birth hopefully uh in the next couple of years to something that looks a lot like an axe a lot like the woolly mammoth and so you know i'm a a big believer that that is at least one of the first contenders for the for the first great headline of the new millennium and it's these exponential technologies are going to solve things like uh uh you know the carbon in our atmosphere uh we have private space stations are going to take over we have the russians choose to dump a dump their part of the international space station asteroid mining that i'm gonna skip through here again for time uh just because we now have uh you know uh these exponential technologies that are opening up access to the bounty that sits there in the heavens and it's really this bounty in space that is really going to help humanity because of this crush we have on the resources here on earth and of course finally i of course
plan that we're going to be a multi-planet species i believe that we become a multi-planet species and i myself plan to live on mars within my own lifetime and i just hope i can get my kids and my wife to join me so uh thank you all very much and uh look forward to talking to you later you