Today @ TED — Singularity University

Lifted from the Singularity University Web Site

I just realized why I haven’t been blogging so much lately.  It’s simple.  I’ve actually been getting eight hours of sleep.  This morning, however, we were supposed to wake up to three inches of snow.  No go!  I shouldn’t be disappointed since I have to get to the airport tomorrow morning, bound for Vermont.  Would hate to be prevented from going to Vermont because I got snowed in.

As is usual, I checked the news first thing through my iPhone AP News App and ran across an interesting article about Singularity University, a school that will start accepting applicants today, through its web site

The school is located on the campus of NASA’s Ames Research Center, near Google Inc., Yahoo Inc, Intel Corp, and Cisco Systems Inc. and with that proximity, they plan to draw guest speakers for the nine-week curriculum.  According to the AP article, the school will:

revolve around the concept that the exponential advances occurring in various fields should be melded to solve daunting problems like poverty, famine, disease, global warming and dwindling energy supplies.

Ray Kurzweil’s February 2005 Singularity talk at TED

Futurist, Ray Kurzweil said, “The law of accelerating returns means technology eventually will be a million more times powerful than it is today and cause profound transformation.”  His 2005 book, The Singularity is Near, inspired the school’s name.

If people can’t wrap their brains around what lies ahead, society could be overwhelmed by the upheaval, said technology forecaster Paul Saffo, who will be part of Singular University’s faculty.

“One of our greatest challenges is to get people to anticipate the consequences of our inventions and how they can upset the apple cart,” Saffo said.

Kurzweil initiated discussions about the school two years ago, when he approached Peter Diamandis, who chairs the X Prize Foundation, an organization that fosters innovation in bringing about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity.  Kurzeil will be the school’s chancellor.

The school has been funded, in part, by an initial contribution of $250,000 from Google.  It’s tuition will be heafty, $25,000, but will also be aimed at the brightest students who “have an interest in addressing big issues,” Diamandis said.

The first three weeks will be spent in the immersive study of ten fields, including computing, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, energy, law, and finance.  The next three will be spent concentrating on one of the fields, and the final three will be devoted to a special project.  The school will also offer ten- and three-day programs aimed at corporate executives and other professionals.

The challenges of a recession asside, Diamandis is betting that, can help heal the economy by hatching breakthroughs that will generate new jobs and create more wealth.

“If anything, this kind of university is needed more than ever right now,” he said. “We expect the next generation of multibillion-dollar companies to come out this university.”

There is supposed to be a talk at TED today about Singularity University, but I couldn’t find any reference to it in the program schedule.

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Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.