(Everyone’s Favorite) Science Guy Bill Nye and Futurist Entrepreneur Ben Lamm on Space, Tech, and Opportunity –

Bill Nye and Hypergiant Industries Founder Ben Lamm both have a history with space—and each other.

Back in February, Texas-based artificial intelligence industrial complex Hypergiant launched a division that would focus on AI-driven aerospace and astronautic software and hardware for the space industry, called Hypergiant Galactic Systems.

The following month, Hypergiant Galactic Systems announced a partnership with the Arch Mission Foundation. Together, the two companies plan to launch a series of satellites, starting in 2020, that would serve as the first relay points in the Interplanetary Internet.

As for Bill Nye: Most people know him as the famous “Science Guy.” But, he’s also the CEO of The Planetary Society, the “world’s largest and most influential nonprofit space organization” dedicated to making advancements in science and exploration.

And most recently, Nye got a spot on Hypergiant’s Executive Advisory Board, which launched this summer. With his role, Nye intended to develop AI systems in two areas he deeply cares about: climate change and space exploration.

It’s an extension of what Lamm intends to do with Hypergiant Industries: change the way people think about various enterprise sectors but also the planet, technology, space, and what’s best for the entire human race.

On a Venture Dallas panel, Nye and Lamm came together with moderator Molly Cain, founder of GovCity Group, to talk about how America must consider the implications that technology advances can bring. 

Launched by nine local dealmakers, Venture Dallas was a two-day summit that boosted relationships between local founders and out-of-town investors, putting North Texas even more on the map as an investment catalyst.

Here’s our top takeaways. Lamm and Nye had lots to say. And, when asked who he wanted to be when he grew up, Lamm said, “Bill Nye.”  

Ben Lamm

On becoming a space geek

“I think I was 10. And I went to Johnson Space Center with my Uncle Joe and had astronaut ice cream. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. And I was like, if they’re making this kind of stuff, what could they, you know, possibly be making? About three years ago, I found out that all the astronaut ice cream has never been to space, and it’s just a big hoax.”

“I dove in over the years … I was very lucky just to get to see a lot of how NASA worked over the years, I just got felt more and more love.”

“There’s definitely money to be made. … There’s a lot of stuff that’s coming down in terms of like data as a service.”

On opportunities in the space sector

“There’s hardware, obviously, you’ve got people building reusable rockets, You’ve got data is a service models, you’ve got AI and other kind of software-based systems that leverage a lot of the data that’s coming down from space and doing amazing things with it: Everything from crop rotation to geological studies, smart cities and infrastructure planning, GIS to defense.”

On how ‘fail fast and ship’ applies to the space industry (or not)

“It can’t ‘just be good enough,’ especially when people’s lives are on the line in space.”

On the possibilities for entrepreneurs

“There’s so many problems in the space … So you’ve got physics people, you’ve got electrical engineers. You’ve got applied materials. Historically, space has been very hardware focused, and now, it’s becoming more software focused. You’re going to see more and more software players enter space.

Bill Nye

On how Carl Sagan changed his life

 “I, for fun, took one class from Carl Sagan, a very well-known astronomer, and it changed my life. You all may have seen the original Cosmos series or the remake two or three years ago. But his class was pretty much that series before it was a series. And then he started the Planetary Society in 1980.”

On working with NASA

“NASA is still a biggest space agency by a factor of three or so. … When it comes to space exploration, people from both sides of the aisle participate. Everybody loves space: Republican, Democrat, Independent. Everybody thinks space exploration is a worthy use of our intellect and treasure.”

“Now with the miniaturization of electronics and instruments, much smaller organizations than NASA can participate in remarkable ways, advancing space science and exploration.”

On why space matters

“We all depend on space. It’s to the point where none about most of us cannot tell which side of the street we’re standing on. We’re not working on our freaking phone. And that is a result of global positioning system.”

“I want to explore planets writ large. I want to look for methane and distant atmospheres or so called exoplanets. Very cool. But two things for me: I want to look for life, on the medical world, in my lifetime, because I claim if we were defined life on another world, it would change the course of history. People would feel—everybody would feel—differently about being a living thing in the cosmos.”

“The the other thing that’s important to me is don’t want the earth to get hit with an asteroid. If the ancient dinosaurs had a plan for it wasn’t good enough.”

On “good” investing in space

 “In general, space improves the quality of life for everybody on Earth. And what we want to do is ultimately provide the internet to everyone. Clean water access, electricity, access internet for everyone on the world, and that’s going to require a spacecraft.”

On the need for “space policy”

 “If you’ve been to Australia, they have tremendous trouble with invasive species. If you go to work for life on Mars and you bring along too many microbes from earth, you won’t be able to tell one from the other. So let’s all be thoughtful.”

“There’s a lot to be done in the laws associated with sharing space. And it just nothing else. There was an agreement about not putting or nominally not putting weapons in space. But that’s not we’re talking about not honoring that treaty anymore.”

Comments were edited for brevity and clarity. Alex Edwards and Quincy Preston contributed this report.

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