Walking onto the expo floor at Singularity University Global Summit is an exhilarating and overwhelming experience. Packed with rows and booths of cutting-edge companies, it’s like being a kid in candy store, except all the people in the candy store are way smarter than you.

Nevertheless, I braved the expo, and I couldn’t be more glad I did.

The people I met gave me some ideas that are going to stick with me for a long time. I was introduced to a wide variety of projects, from 3D printing in space to reshaping manufacturing using artificial intelligence to using virtual reality storytelling to drive empathy. There were even people working on using mushrooms to fight the effects of toxic radioactivity (seriously).

Each of these people worked in wildly different fields, but they all shared a common cause of harnessing the power of exponential tech to create a positive impact in the world.

And they had actionable insights to share with us. These will be useful to anyone trying to create an exponential reach, improve their business or make a change in the world.


1) [email protected]: To Succeed in the Exponential Age, Master Your Mind Mind First

“If you’re going to be a good leader, executive or doer, you need to master your own mind. Time isn’t our most important asset, the ability to manage our time is.” –John Vitale, [email protected]

Exponential tech promises huge rewards to those that can use it best. But the only way to ride the exponential wave is to make sure that you are mastering your own personal potential.

No one knows this better than John Vitale, the founder of [email protected] which creates “music scientifically optimized to boost concentration and focus.” John studies the ways we can optimize our minds for peak performance. He realized that if we are able to listen to the right music, we can prime our brain for maximum concentration.

Essentially, [email protected] software soothes our reptilian brain—the part of our brain which constantly distracts us—by playing music scientifically designed to keep it occupied.

Not surprisingly, John was also the most present and engaged person I met on the floor. He certainly lives the values he preaches.

He explained that even if we manage our time perfectly, it doesn’t matter unless you use your time well. How many of us have sat down for an hour long writing, coding or planning session only to find that by the end of those 60 minutes, the only thing we had to show was a Facebook status and a vague feeling of guilt over getting distracted.

Imagine how much more you could get done if you were able to be present in each moment at work. If you could focus at will.

Singularity University Global Summit is the culmination of the Exponential Conference Series and the definitive place to witness converging exponential technologies and understand how they’ll impact the world.


2) Sierra Industries: To Make Your Great Ideas Matter, Put Them Into Action

“Exponential technology without exponential distribution is worthless.” –Mike Hart, Sierra Industries

In order to create things that truly impact people’s lives, we need to make things which actually affect people at scale. That’s why Singularity University targets companies that can positively impact the lives of one billion people.

Mike Hart’s Sierra Industry certainly fits the bill there. Not only have they created a system which turns any waste products into clean energy, they’ve also pioneered an exponential distribution platform called Techpipe for other clean-tech companies to use.

Breakthroughs in the lab are great, but once the innovations are accessible to anyone, anywhere, things really start to get exciting.

To me, this quote is a reminder that no matter how good an idea is, it doesn’t matter until it is making a change. We can never forget to bring our ideas out of the brainstorming room and into the field.


3) BeeTech: Sometimes the Most Disruptive Technology Is Old Tech Used in New Ways

People think we need these Manhattan Project sized initiatives to make an impact. But if you decentralize and work from the ground up, it’s often much simpler and easier to get results. Bees have been around 100 million years.That’s around 20 times the amount of time humans have been around. And even though they have very little intelligence, the hives together can bootstrap themselves up to the level of a dog, or even a primate.” –Beetech

New solutions to problems are great. But what’s even better is using existing resources or technology to solve a new problem in a novel way.

And BeeTech is certainly novel. BeeTech uses bees and mushrooms to clean up sites which have either been contaminated by nuclear waste or mining. Believe it or not, some mushrooms even thrive on the energy generated by nuclear waste. Early results have suggested that this strategy might speed up nuclear waste cleanup times by an order of magnitude.

Think how utterly incredible that is? Rather than reengineer (or possibly over-engineer) a new solution to this complex problem, BeeTech has found a way to use ancient biotechnology to change the game.

Are there any problems you’re having right now that might be fixable with tools already at your disposal?

Jason Ganz is the CEO of Agora VR, a company dedicated to spreading big ideas in virtual reality. He's a tech optimist and startup junky who is thrilled to be living in the most exciting time in human history. You can get in touch with him at @jasnonaz and follow his work @agoraVR. For consulting and speaking engagements please contact eta.im.