Expect their football team to be big on gadget plays

Just the other day, entrepreneur and consultant Sramana Mitra was talking about the opportunities for innovation at the cusps of scientific disciplines and the challenges of integrating deep expertise from across various fields to address problems in novel ways. Turns out, thanks to some future-focused folks, that we’re getting a new institution of higher learning dedicated to that very process.

Opening this summer, Singularity University is the brainchild of Peter Diamandis, who posts bounties for breakthroughs through his X Prize Foundation, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who inspired Diamandis with his contention that exponential advances in technology are putting us in charge of our own evolution. They enlisted, among others, Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, who agreed to provide facilities, and Google, which signed on as the first major corporate sponsor. Starting with a nine-week graduate-level session, Singularity U. aims to bring together bright young minds from disciplines like computing, biotech, nanotech, artificial intelligence, medicine, law and business, and help them collaborate to take on humanity’s greatest challenges. “The magic of breakthroughs occurs when you have nontraditional thinking around a problem that is stuck,” Diamandis said. “It’s when a mathematician works on a biological problem, for example.” And convenient access to Silicon Valley’s venture capital community means promising theory has a chance to be put into practice. “We expect many of the students that are coming to Singularity University to have an entrepreneurial bent,” Diamandis said, “and we expect companies to spin out of the university.” Tuition for the session is pretty steep — $25,000, although scholarships will be available — but students aren’t likely to find another school where disruption is so actively encouraged.

 
 

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  • dermbuilder

    This sounds like the kind of thinking that is needed more in our public schools. Most people when presented with this kind of thinking and solutions to problems will say “That can’t work, it is just too different”. That is what I hear when I mention Scanning LED television, or cheap Fresnel lens solar concentrators for photovoltaic arrays, or rail based automated personal electric transportation.

 
 
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