Singularity University - the twilight zone
Singularity University? De di de do, de di de do. The name seems like a bit of hubris from Ray Kurzweil (one of its founders) and the prices are astronomical at $25k for a 10 week course, but despite the economic downturn, it’s due to open in June 09. Unashamedly ‘techy’ with a focus on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computing, robotics, space, AI and so on, but curiously, it has more of a religious feel than a university, its stated goal being to solve humanity’s greatest challenges – hunger, poverty, climate change, energy and disease. In fact it has all the hallmarks of a ‘Kurzweil and Diamontis’ cult.
“Singularity University aims to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.” All in a 3 or 10 day course.
A focused attempt to bring together top minds to solve immediate problems may sound utopian, but given the scale and number of the problems, could we give them the benefit of the doubt?
I’m afraid not. There’s several problems here. Kurzweil’s singularity concept is nowhere near a strong enough concept to act as the brand for a major educational institution. It’s not quite as bad as the Trump University, but not far off. Diamantis is a huckster, who seems more interested in private sector space travel, at whatever environmental cost, than solving global problems. In fact, when you look at the faculty, the claim that "We are reaching out across the globe...” is laughable. It’s almost all US faculty, with far too many of Diamantis’s ‘space-buddy’s’ (Robert Richards, Michael Simpson) on the Board, and faculty. Looks like a get rich quick scam.