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Maybe “Billionaire” Should Mean Helping A Billion People Instead Of Making A Billion Dollars

Brain Games host Jason Silva launches #RedefineBillionaire campaign to inspire individuals to creatively address world problems.

Everyone wants to be rich and successful. But the billionaires of the modern age—Elon Musk, Larry Page, Bill Gates—go beyond their bank accounts towards a goal to positively effect the lives of a billion people.

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Part of that involves rethinking our potential through technology, which is advancing at a rate faster than most individuals can figure out how to harness it to better mankind. But if we can reconfigure our mindsets, those of humbler means can still make an impact.

That’s the concept driving the new #RedefineBillionaire social media campaign and video launched last week by Jason Silva—a digital Descartes of sorts who hosts National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games—which returns with a two-night midseason premiere June 28 and 29—and YouTube’s Shots of Awe.

“Individuals with technology now have the capacity to change the world in ways that governments and large corporations used to be able to do in the past, but we often don’t leverage what’s possible,” says Silva. “Our brains evolved in a world that’s linear and local. Technology is moving at an exponential pace and a global scale. Our brains haven’t kept pace. We need new maps and mental schemas to help us think of technology as an exo-skeleton, an extension of our cognition, and understand what’s possible.”

Jason Silva delivers inspirational talks to corporate audiences around the world.Photo: courtesy of Jason Silva

Silva partnered with filmmaker Leonardo Dalessandri (who directed the Watchtower of Turkey viral short) to create the slickly produced video, Captains of Spaceship Earth (above)—done in Silva’s unscripted, extemporaneous stream of consciousness he calls “freestyle philosophy”. It’s posted on Vimeo, YouTube, and Facebook, the last of which drew some 200,000 shares in the first 36 hours.

Silva’s efforts support organizations like Singularity University that are teaching entrepreneurs to help solve humanity’s most pressing challenges, and Eirene, whose co-founder John Kluge proposed a similar concept at a 2013 TEDx talk in Japan.

Adds Silva, “The #RedefineBillionaire campaign is an inspirational callout for a new definition of success—an antidote to the mindset of ridiculing ourselves for fame—that will galvanize our thinking to make their world a better place.”

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About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio.

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