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Why Google thinks it can solve a big balloon problem with big data

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Google X, a secretive division of the company that's working on futuristic "moonshot" projects, unveiled a bizarre effort in June called "Project Loon:" an effort to beam internet access to remote regions of the globe from balloons that drift all over the planet. Unfortunately, balloons don't have a good track record for staying in the air very long, which presents some non-traditional problems for the internet-age company. But as Wired's Stephen Levy writes in a new feature on Project Loon, Google thinks its big data chops can help it solve centuries-old problems of flight. "Once we see how much better, cheaper, and safer we can make things by adding intelligence, all the things we think of now as solved will be thought of as being very much version 1.0," Google's Astro Teller tells Wired. "This is going to play out over and over again in our lifetimes."