Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Singularity University Launched in Silicon Valley

The public launch of Singularity University at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley was recently announced. Singularity University aims to assemble a world class community of thought leaders, academics, and entreprenuers across the many fields of exponentially advancing technologies (nanotechnology, genetics, medicine, artificial intelligence, etc.) in order to address humanity’s grand challenges.

With significant backing from Google and NASA, and with the participation of a renowned cast of faculty and advisors, Singularity University is poised to become a world class institution for the innovation, collaboration, and leadership that will capitalize on the promise of technology to solve the world’s greatest problems.

Ray Kurzweil (right), Peter Diamandis, and a team of advisors has been intently working on the idea and the details of various planning meetings have been filtering into public consciousness throughout the year.

The university is built on the ideas presented in Kurzweil's book "The Singularity is Near". The "singularity" he refers to is the point at which technology advances to a point that "lets humans transcend our biological limitations". In general, the idea of the university is that technology is advancing at an exponential rate and universities have to be re-designed to keep up with the increasing speed of change.

The planning over the past year brought together a wide range of people from a variety of different fields. The plan is to have intensive 9 or 10-week summer programs for grad-level students, where they learn a variety of different subjects (some outside their field), but then work together to try to tackle a "big problem" (world hunger, climate change, etc.) using their diverse backgrounds and knowledge. They are also offering 3- and 10-day classes intended for those already in the workforce.

This university is for fairly high-rollers, intellectually and financially. Programs run around $25,000 and expect some facility in areas like nanotechnology, biotechnology, industrial design, artificial intelligence, etc.

Click on the heading above to see a video at the Singularity University website.

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