Singularity University (SU) (www.singularityu.org) will open its doors in June 2009 on the NASA Research Park campus with a nine-week graduate level interdisciplinary curriculum designed to facilitate understanding, collaboration, and innovation across a broad range of carefully chosen scientific and technological disciplines.
The curriculum will be broken out into 10 tracks as follows:
* future studies and forecasting
* networks and computing systems
* biotechnology and bioinformatics
* medicine, neuroscience and human enhancement
* AI, robotics, and cognitive computing
* energy and ecological systems
* space and physical sciences
* policy, law and ethics
* finance and entrepreneurship.
The idea of Singularity University is to assemble graduate students and those already working in various scientific fields, with the belief that advances come more easily when experts in different fields work together. A graduate student in nanotechnology, for instance, would receive expert briefings in future studies and forecasting; in biotechnology; in finance and entrepreneurship; in networks and computer systems—in 10 disciplines overall.
Each of the students would then be looking from different angles at the same set of problems. “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.”
The campus at NASA Ames is at Moffett Airfield, just a few miles down the road from Palo Alto’s Sand Hill Road, a locus of venture capital. Venture capitalists will be part of the faculty, and there will be a “pitch day” toward the end of the program when students can try to attract funding for a proposed business. Diamandis expects numerous businesses to emerge from the program.
The size of future classes will expand to 120 students. Tuition is set at $25,000.
1. Future Studies & Forecasting:
This track introduces the core concepts of the Singularity, including accelerating change, linear versus exponential growth, Moore’s law, and the promise and peril of revolutionary technologies. It presents the grand challenges that will be addressed during the nine-week course and includes grounding in key forecasting methodologies and a survey and analysis of current and forthcoming cutting-edge technologies and science breakthroughs and their impacts on the future. Ray Kurzweil, Paul Saffo, and other leading futurists will present interactive lectures, with student participation and dialogue.
This track will cover the future of nanotechnology, including (1) Future molecular manufacturing methods using nanoscale fabrication, DNA nanotechnology and self-assembly, scanning probe microscopy, atomic probe microscopy, positional assembly, atomically precise manufacturing (APM), molecular nanotechnology (MNT), nanoscale machine systems, nanofactories, and self-replicating systems; (2) Molecular simulations and computational experiments to create molecular computers and carbon nanotube electronics; (3) Medical nanorobotics, including nanomedicine, life extension and cryonics; (4) Energy production and storage; and (5) Green manufacturing and environmental mitigation.
5. AI, Robotics, & Cognitive Computing:
This track focuses on intelligent machines. The main topics are: (1) Introduction to intelligent machines: perception, actions, representation, reasoning, learning, dealing with uncertainty. (2) Applications in home, transportation, medicine, security, internet, entertainment, space, and other areas. (3) AI technology: efficient exploration of state space, planning, logical inference, probabilistic inference, representation languages, machine learning, and language understanding. Alternative approaches for producing artificial general intelligence (AGI) or strong AI. Using neuroscience data from high resolution brain scans and other probes to modify our software and hardware architectures. (4) Robotics technology: hardware systems (sensors, manipulators), mobility, localization and mapping, human-robot interactions, multi-agent systems, autonomous vehicles, scaling to micro- and nano-machines. (5) Future directions: technology trends, solving the hard problems. AI ethics, potential for runaway AI, friendly vs. unfriendly AI. Uncertainties concerning when computers will match various capabilities of the human brain. Will computers become conscious?
6. Medicine, Neuroscience & Human enhancement:
This track will explore the future of the human body, in six areas: (1) Medical diagnostics & imaging: biomarkers, state of the art (PCR, array, immuno-based), future and point-of-care), medical devices, imaging; (2) Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine: medical devices & artificial organs, tissue engineering & biomaterials, replacement parts, artificial organs, organ printers, bioreactors, cellular therapies, stem cells, imaging stem cells, cloning, cancer stem cells, aging and stem cells, neural stem cells and regeneration; (3) Wellness: supplements/antioxidants/diet, preventative drugs, proactive regimens; Internet and Medicine; (4) brain scanning/uploading (5) neuroprostheses (artificial retina, artificial brain-to-muscle connectors, brain-computer interfaces, deep brain stimulation); (6) Neuroplasticity and transcranial magnetic stimulation; and (7) Cyborg enhancements: exoskeletons, cochlear and other implants, direct imaging of the living brain fMRI and MEG, smart pharmacological agents and dynamic imaging systems
Singularity University Website