by Aaron Saenz: Monday June 18th marks the start of Singularity University’s 10 week Summer Graduate Studies Program. Based in NASA AMES in the heart of Silicon Valley, SU has become the premier institution in educating the next generation of leaders about the disruptive power of accelerating technologies. Singularity University understands that the small advances in science today could compound into enormous changes in the near future. Individuals, businesses, and even nations will rise or fall depending on how they prepare for and harness those changes. SU wants its participants to use exponential growth in technology to help a billion people in the next ten years. For the next ten weeks Singularity Hub will be on campus, ready to provide you with an unparalleled look at the university that is poised to transform the world.
Starting with opening ceremonies this Monday, and continuing beyond closing ceremonies in August, Singularity Hub is going to have reporters on the ground at SU. We’ll interview students, faculty, and special guests. We’ll be at lectures, presentations, and exciting field trips (Google, AutoDesk, and more!). We’ll hear about the latest innovations in artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, genetics, synthetic biology, bioinformatics, energy, finance, and design. And we’ll be sharing it all with you, our Singularity Hub readers.
For three years now Singularity University has been quietly shifting the educational landscape with its unique perspective on shaping innovation and innovators. This really could be the institution that helps solve humanity’s grand challenges. The following video, created at the end of last summer’s Graduate Studies Program, gives you a taste of SU’s vision:
As seen in the video, there are three things that make Singularity University’s Graduate Studies Program stand out: the students, the faculty, and the mission. This year, over 3000 applied for one of the 80 slots in GSP 2012, and those that were chosen highlight the talent that can be found in such enormously competitive admissions. Two-thirds have post-graduate degrees, with 10% pursuing a PhD or equivalent. Many have already started successful businesses, written books, and been teachers themselves. It’s no wonder then that SU prefers to call them “participants” and not “students”. These individuals already have a lot to share with the world.
And SU is definitely a global university. In the GSP ’12 class alone there are 36 nations represented: Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and the US.
As part of their mission to find the best talent in the world, SU hosts competitions to find remarkable local innovators. 25% of the GSP’12 class comes from these competitions.
Perhaps most telling is that a full quarter of the class (20 participants) got their seats by winning regional competitions around the world. Singularity University guides Global Impact Competitions with support of local partners to find innovators ready to improve their native homes. These participants are already community leaders, SU is ready to give them the tools to make them global leaders.
That empowerment is possible because Singularity University has attracted some of the most prominent names in advanced technology. Daniel Kraft, head of SU’s Medicine and Neuroscience track, is a renowned researcher in regenerative stem cell technologies. Andrew Hessel, Co-Chair of the Biotech track is famous as an advocate for synthetic biology and next generation pharmaceuticals. Peter Norvig is Director of Research at Google, and an advisor in AI and Robotics. Dan Barry, Head of Faculty, is a former astronaut with doctorates in medicine and computer science. The list goes on and on.
The participants, faculty, staff, and founders of Singularity University at last year’s GSP. Don’t call them students and teachers, they’re on this journey together.
For ten weeks this summer, participants and faculty will walk side by side as they discuss what humanity needs, and what technology will provide in the decade ahead. This all culminates in the formation of project groups, each targeted to solve a major problem in the world that affects billions. Many of these projects will go on to become startup businesses, not just in Silicon Valley, but in emerging innovation centers around the world.
A sign of SU’s growing momentum is their list of corporate partners including Google, Autodesk, Genentech, and Nokia.
The transition that many participants make from proven leaders to targeted entrepreneurs reflects the underlying mission of Singularity University. Founders Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis wanted to create an institution that not only taught the world about accelerating technologies, but found and shaped the talent that would use those technologies to improve the lives of everyone on the planet. SU helps their participants aim for a “10^9+ impact”- helping a billion or more people in the next ten years. This organization wants nothing less than to solve some of humanity’s grand challenges such as poverty, energy, education, global health, security, and the exploration of space.
Many of you already know about the potential power of artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and other emergent technologies. Singularity Hub covers them everyday. But we hope that this summer we’ll be able to show you how Singularity University is actually taking what we discuss as possibilities, and planning to use them as tools to build humanity a better future.
Stay tuned, Hubbers, on top of all our regular (and awesome) content cake, we’re going to give you a lot of Singularity University icing. Bon appetit!
[image and video credits: Singularity University]