Singularity University First Three Weeks In Pictures

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With the first three weeks of the Singularity University summer session complete the Hub is here to give you a summary of what has been happening.  My personal impression is that the school is off to a fantastic start.  Call me biased if you want, but considering the quality of students involved, the prestige of the faculty and guest speakers, and the vast array of activities that have occurred it is hard to deny that something really special is happening over at the University.  This is going to be mostly a review in pictures with some commentary in between.  I think this is a powerful way to report on the University’s progress.  Let me send a huge shout to Dr. Daniel Kraft, chair of the  Medicine, Neuroscience & Human Enhancement  track at Singularity University, for a substantial number of these pictures.

Of course, the main attraction at Singularity University is supposed to be the amazing faculty and guest speakers and the University has definitely delivered! Vint Cerf, Peter Norvig, George Smoot, Yossi Vardi, Bob Metcalfe, Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis, Aubrey De Grey, Raymond McCauley, Terry Grossman, and Ralph Merkle are just a few of the names that have been passing through the University. If you haven’t already, take a moment to check out the impressive full roster of faculty and advisors. Below are the few pictures I have been able to take or acquire of faculty and speakers that have been at the University:

Left: Aubrey De Grey Right: Raymond McCauley
Left: Aubrey De Grey Right: Gary Schroth
Left: Terry Grossman, Right: Ralph Merkle
Left: Terry Grossman, Right: Ralph Merkle

During the first week every student and many of the supporting faculty and staff were treated to a free 23andme analysis of their DNA:

The 23andme dna sequencing kit comes in a green box. You put saliva into a tube and then mail it out in a package back to 23andme. Check out University Executive Director Salim Ismail is preparing his sample above
The 23andme dna sequencing kit comes in a green box. You put saliva into a tube and then mail it out in a package back to 23andme. Check out University Executive Director Salim Ismail is preparing his sample above

Developing a rich culture of tradition and a sense of community is a crucial component of the Singularity University experience.  The University is not just a place to stick your nose in a book.  It is a place for the faculty and students to network, share ideas, and build relationships that will last for the rest of their lives.  One of the first events to kick off the University was a pinning ceremony and group photo shoot:

group-photo
Posing for a group photo shoot
The pinning ceremony
The pinning ceremony
I love this candid photo: University Executive Director Salim Ismail and Chair for the Artificial Intelligence track Neil Jacobstein pondering the singularity
I love this candid photo: University Executive Director Salim Ismail and Co-Chair for the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics track Neil Jacobstein pondering the singularity…or maybe just the weather

As a team building excercise, students and some faculty participated in a “Survivor” competition based on the popular TV show.  Students were divided into teams of 8 and had their foreheads marked up with a team symbol:

survivor1

During a brainstorming exercise, students wrote down ideas, trends, themes, technologies on little colored post-its and grouped them onto a large wall to investigate how they were related and to ponder how to fix and improve human civilization:

post-its

In yet another team building event, students broke into teams and competed in a Rube Goldberg contest:

rube-goldberg1

rube-goldberg2

Students had the opportunity to sit down with Kurzweil in an intimate 1 hour plus fireside chat that was a lot of fun.  Students were able to ask Kurzweil pretty much anything, and they did!  Questions covered human consciousness, qualia, and even Kurzweil’s daily pill regiment:

fireside-chat-kurzweil

Sadly this next event is very hard to capture in pictures alone.  There will be a video forthcoming, but in the meantime, all I have is these pictures to show the Singularity University students on their zero G flight.  For those who don’t know, there is a company called Zero G that will take you in an airplane and allow you to experience true weightlessness, just like in space.  Below you will see pictures of the students walking to the plane, then lying down on the floor of the plane waiting to become weightless, and then finally they are floating all over the plane upside down and every which way:

zerog

Singularity Hub is please to bring you the web’s best coverage of Singularity University.  More stories to come, and in the meantime look at our previous stories about the University:

Disclosure: Keith Kleiner is an associate founder at Singularity University

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