Inside The GSP Experience at Singularity University 2012
You may be familiar with Moore’s Law. The phenomenon was first described in a 1965 paper by Gordon Moore of Intel, and it spelled out the notion that computing capacity (via the number of transistors placed on an integrated circuit) will double every two years. Since the idea’s inception, Moore’s Law has persisted through wars, recessions and the like; as if it were a phenomenon on par with nature. Mathematically it is referred to as exponential growth, and it’s the reason why the cell phone in your pocket today is a million times cheaper, a million times smaller, and a thousand times more powerful than the $60 million supercomputer of the 1960’s. It all amounts to a billion fold increase in price and performance, and it's only speeding up.
However, Moore’s Law is not just rooted in the microprocessor chip. Every time a technology becomes an information technology, it begins to accelerate in the same fashion as the circuit board. Ray Kurzweil calls this the Law of Accelerating Returns, and these exponentially-advancing technologies are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in our lives, and will have immediate and profound implications for the state of our world. The pattern runs counter intuitive to our linear-minded thinking, but it is critical we grasp this phenomenon for what it is, and start planning our lives with respect to the transformative growth we should expect in the coming years.
Enter Singularity University: the first institution specifically designed with these exponential trends in mind. Located down the street from Google at the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, Singularity University is an educational think tank and high impact global ventures incubator created to harness all of this potential for good. The thinking goes, if we can be ahead of the exponential curves and plan for what’s coming, we can properly steer humanity in the right direction.
The stated mission is to “assemble, educate and inspire a new generation of leaders who strive to understand and utilize exponentially advancing technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.” It is indeed an ambitious mouthful, but now entering its fourth year, the organization is poised for serious impact. The campus has become a global hub for innovation. With a rock star line up of faculty and advisers, Singularity University has amassed an unprecedented level of resources and intellect targeted at tangible global impact for good.
Throughout the year, SU hosts a series of Executive Programs around the world where anyone in the know seems to be participating. Just to give you some idea of what I’m talking about, the program I attended in Hollywood included Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla and PayPal), Vint Cerf (father of the Internet), Will.I.Am (Black Eyed Peas and Intel’s ‘Creative Director of Innovation’), Ashton Kutcher (actor, Twitter legend, and angel investor), and even the second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin made an appearance. But as we turn to the summer months, the action on the campus really starts to heat up with the institution's 10-week Graduate Studies Program, simply referred to as ‘The GSP’.
Bringing together a diverse group of accomplished experts in academics, business, and government from all around the globe, the GSP is a learning experience simply unparalleled in the world today. The curriculum explores the implications of exponential growth and examines the convergence and potential of the different technologies. Midway through the experience, students join forces to focus on what they call 10⁹+ Team Projects, which one could say serves as “the final” for the summer. The goal is to launch a venture ambitious enough to “positively affect the lives of a billion people within 10 years.” Co-founder Peter Diamandis loves to say, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it,” and this inspiring ethos is at its pinnacle during the summer at Singularity University.
The whirlwind of innovation is set to kick off on Monday, and I will have a front row seat for the show. From the opening ceremonies all the way through to the final venture pitches, my goal is to bottle up the experience for you and provide a glimpse into the future. So as I embark on this 10-week adventure down the rabbit hole of tomorrow, I invite you to join me for the ride. Join the conversation on Twitter, hashtag (#) SingularityU and let’s have some fun toying with the idea that there are no limits for what mankind is capable of.