On the exponential curve inside Singularity University

May 6, 2013

It’s not an accredited university, and it doesn’t actually teach the singuarity, the supposed superintelligence that will result when man merges with machine, due (according to prolific inventor and author Ray Kurzweil) sometime around 2045. Still, the official welcome at Singularity University’s (SU) opening executive-programme class this fresh December afternoon in Nasa’s Ames research campus, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California, is delivered, appropriately, by a 60cm-tall NAO humanoid robot.

“I am so excited to see you all here,” the robot beams to about 80 investors, inventors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and otherwise future-curious students who have committed up to $12,000 (¬£7,650) each to spend seven days here exploring advances in biotech, nanotech, AI,¬†robotics, neuroscience, energy systems and other accelerating technologies. The week’s takeaways, declares SU’s CEO Rob Nail, will be the opportunities offered by abundance, disruptive convergence, “109¬†thinking”, problem-solving and “exponential technological challenges”. “It gets really interesting,” Nail says, “at the borders of, say, robotics and medicine, or nanotech and neuroscience.” Even the course Wi-Fi password is “12481632” — chosen because “it’s exponential.” […]