XPRIZE names two grand prize winners in $15 million Global Learning Challenge

XPRIZE, the non-profit organization developing and managing competitions to find solutions to social challenges, has named two grand prize winners in the Elon Musk-backed Global Learning XPRIZE .

The companies, KitKit School out of South Korea and the U.S., and onebillion, operating in Kenya and the U.K., were announced at an awards ceremony hosted at the Google Spruce Goose Hangar in Playa Vista, Calif.

XPRIZE set each of the competing teams the task of developing scalable services that could enable children to teach themselves basic reading, writing, and arithmetic skills within 15 months.

Musk himself was on hand to award $5 million checks to each of the winning teams.

Five finalists including: New York-based CCI, which developed lesson plans and a development language so non-coders could create lessons; Chimple, a Bangalore-based, learning platform enabling children to learn reading, writing and math on a tablet; RobotTutor, a Pittsburgh-based company which used Carnegie Mellon research to develop an app for Android tablets that would teach lessons in reading and writing with speech recognition, machine learning, and human computer interactions, and the two grand prize winners all received $1 million to continue developing their projects.

The tests required each product to be field tested in Swahili, reaching nearly 3,000 children in 170 villages across Tanzania.

All of the final solutions from each of the five teams that made it to the final round of competition have been open-sourced so anyone can improve on and develop local solutions using the toolkits developed by each team in competition.

Kitkit School, with a team from Berkeley, Calif. and Seoul, developed a program with a game-based core and flexible learning architecture to help kids learn independently, while onebillion, merged numeracy content with literacy material to provide directed learning and activities alongside monitoring to personalize responses to children’s needs.

Both teams are going home with $5 million to continue their work.

The problem of access to basic education affects more than 250 million children around the world, who can’t read or write and one-in-five children around the world aren’t in school, according to data from UNESCO.

The problem of access is compounded by a shortage of teachers at the primary ad secondary school level. Some research, cited by XPRIZE, indicates that the world needs to recruit another 68.8 million teachers to provide every child with a primary and secondary education by 2040.

Before the Global Learning XPRIZE field test, 74% of the children who participated were reported as never having attended school; 80% were never read to at home; and 90% couldn’t read a single word of Swahili.

After the 15 month program working on donated Google Pixel C tablets and pre-loaded with software, the number was cut in half.

“Education is a fundamental human right, and we are so proud of all the teams and their dedication and hard work to ensure every single child has the opportunity to take learning into their own hands,” said Anousheh Ansari, CEO of XPRIZE, in a statement. “Learning how to read, write and demonstrate basic math are essential building blocks for those who want to live free from poverty and its limitations, and we believe that this competition clearly demonstrated the accelerated learning made possible through the educational applications developed by our teams, and ultimately hope that this movement spurs a revolution in education, worldwide.”

After the grand prize announcement, XPRIZE said it will work to secure and load the software onto tablets; localize the software; and deliver preloaded hardware and charging stations to remote locations so all finalist teams can scale their learning software across the world.

Sorry guys, even Elon Musk can’t fix MoviePass…

Well, Elon Musk sure had a good run at fixing the world’s pressing problems. Stuff like climate change — with those fancy electric sports cars, built in a fancy tent. Or those fancy solar roof tiles. (Fancy rockets aren’t really a ‘fix’ at this point but he’s thinking about the extraterrestrial future of humanity, okay.)

There was also that kid-sized sub he hastily put together this summer to try and save boys trapped in a cave in Thailand (that endeavor didn’t end so great for Musk though).

He’s even offered to fix Flint’s polluted water.

But it appears that even a well-greased God Complex knows its limits. Because the problem that Musk himself has said is too big for Musk to fix is, well, cash-strapped MoviePass.

At least that’s what Musk said to BuzzFeed reporter Samir Mezrahi via twitter….

So, sorry movie lovers. Musk and his billions might have been your only hope — against price rises and being forced to see shit films because there are fewer tickets on movies you actually want to see.

Turns out some things really are just too good to be saved. 😢

Elon Musk’s next Boring Co. merch will be big Lego bricks made from tunnel rock

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company is indeed living up to its namesake and boring tunnels, but its primary source of revenue still seems to be selling stuff branded with its logo. First there was the hat, then the ‘not a flamethrower,’ and now Musk has said that the company will produce and sell large, “lifesize” interlocking bricks created using rock collected while the company’s boring machines dig out tunnels under the earth.

These will be “super strong,” but with their middles hollowed out to make them lighter and easier to actually move around and use. They’re “rated for California seismic loads,” too, according to Musk, which sounds like he thinks people could use these to actually build dwellings.

First up for sale will be a kit with an ancient Egypt motif, according to Musk, which would provide the parts necessary (and instructions?) for putting together iconic Egyptian archaeological wonders like the pyramids, the Sphinx, the Temple of Horus and more. But life-size versions of these, really? We have so many questions, and Musk has so few answers.

One answer he does have: These bricks are guaranteed to be impervious to the Boring Company flamethrower. So… that’s… good?

Elon Musk is the ultimate doomsday prepper

 As our fractured planet stumbles toward the end of the second decade of its new millennium it’s become de rigueur among a certain class of the super rich to create contingency plans for possible doomsday scenarios that will bring about the end of the world. In a long, fascinating, meandering interview at South by Southwest in Austin yesterday, Elon Musk — the serial entrepreneur… Read More

Elon Musk’s flamethrower has already made well over $3.5 million

 Hats… and now flamethrowers. Elon Musk’s Boring Company has so far been more of a ‘lifestyle’ brand (and a weird one at that) than a company that, you know, digs massive tunnels through the earth as a going concern. But it’s making bank. The hats, which retailed for $20, were capped at 50,000, thus netting The Boring Co. a cool $1 million. The flamethrower, which… Read More

Elon Musk’s Boring company readies its second, poetic tunnel digger

 The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s third or fourth company (who can keep track) is nearly ready to double its tunnel digging capacity: The venture’s second boring machine is “almost ready” according to Musk, and it’ll be named ‘Line-Storm,’ borrowing its name from a poem by Robert Frost. Maybe this is what Steve Jobs really always meant when he talked… Read More

Watch Elon Musk’s keynote where he announced SpaceX’s new rocket and Mars colonization

 Elon Musk gave a keynote address yesterday to the International Aeronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. During the 43 minute talk, which is embedded above, Musk laid out SpaceX’s future including colonizing Mars and building one rocket to rule them all. The talk is fantastic. Elon was Elon and revealed countless details about future SpaceX plans. This is why he’s celebrated… Read More

Humans must become cyborgs to survive, says Elon Musk

Humans must become cyborgs and develop a direct high-bandwidth connection with machines, or risk irrelevance and obsolescence, says Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk.

Musk’s latest cheery thoughts were imparted at the World Government Summit in the UAE. “Over time I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence,” Musk said, according to CNBC.

The main thrust of Musk’s argument seems to hinge on the limited bandwidth and processing power of a single human being. Computers can ingest, transfer, and process gigabytes of data per second, every second, forever. Meatbags, however, are severely limited by an input/output rate—talking, typing, listening—that’s best measured in bits per second. Thus, to risk being replaced by a robot or artificial intelligence, we need to become machines.

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