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Singularity University Embraces Futurism to Fight Global Challenges

Image courtesy of C_osett via Flickr

The future promises to bring answers to the challenges of humankind; illness, old age, and food scarcity, among other hardships, may not be of worry for much longer. That is, of course, if you embrace the singularity.

The singularity is the point in the future at which human and machine intelligence seamlessly overlap and eliminate many of the struggles of human mortality. And, at Singularity University, it’s the basis of the curriculum (which changes around six times per year).

Educators and students at the university not only accept the forthcoming of the singularity, a period expected to arrive around 2045, but work to catalyze the process.

What is Singularity University?

The university was created in 2008 with the intention of preparing humanity for the acceleration of technological change, and focuses on exponential growth. By pairing innovators with entrepreneurs, the program aims to tackle the challenges of humanity with technology, from old age to illness, to death itself.

Classes and conferences at Singularity University discuss the future of human life, and how it may one day be prolonged by using artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and robotics. People have already begun to live much longer than in the past, and with the help of technologies, those numbers will continue to rise.

Who Gets to Attend?

An education from Singularity University does not come by easily. The 10-week graduate program has just 80 available slots, which means that thousands of applicants get turned away every year.
Some of the attendees are the winners of the university’s worldwide Global Impact Competitions, who are awarded attendance because of their “extraordinary ideas to solve global grand challenges.”

The Executive Program, a weeklong workshop, allows participants to engage in hands on learning in six growing technological fields: biotechnology and bioinformatics, AI and robotics, energy and environmental systems, medicine and neuroscience, networks and computing systems, and nanotechnology. For $14,000, these participants can “capture the innovative spirit” of Silicon Valley.

Since its start, Singularity University has educated almost 9,000 people across 93 countries. Staying true to their focus of exponential growth, the university aims to have reached 1,000,000 by 2020.

While many of the technological developments have promise for positive impacts, AI used in singularity also has the potential to be very dangerous, according to leading scientists who testified to UN leaders in 2015.

The talk of Singularity proponents sometimes borders on the bizarre, with some leaders like Kurzweil wanting to bring back the dead, or upload their minds into machines so that they can live forever.

Cheyenne MacDonald