08/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Founding of the Singularity University

This week marks the launch of a new University. It's rare to launch a
new University these days, so I'm very honored and pleased to have
given birth to Singularity University ( along
with fellow X PRIZE Trustee Ray Kurzweil. Singularity University (or
"SU") 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. SU is located on the campus of
NASA Ames/Moffett Field. It has been founded with the support of
Corporate Founders of Google and ePlanet Ventures, as well as a dozen
Associate Founders (Moses Znaimer, Keith Kleiner, Barney Pell, Klee
Irwin, Sonia Arrison, Dan Stoicescu, Georges Harik, Reese Jones, David
S. Rose, Sabiha Malik Foster, Peter L. Bloom, Geoffrey Shmigelsky).

SU has just completed the first of nine weeks of the Graduate Student
Program (GSP'09) and I'm extremely pleased and proud of what we have
created. It is real, off and running, and here to stay.

From the student perspective, we have pulled together an incredible
group of brilliant and dedicated graduate students who are all
entrepreneurs, driven and passionate about taking on the world's grand
challenges (this year's class is 40 in size from 13 nations, the
program will expand to 120 graduate students next year). When we
selected our students based upon the criteria of academic excellence,
demonstrated entrepreneurship and big-picture thinking, we did not
know we'd be attracting fun, high-spirited and good natured
individuals as well. I'm pleased the traits matched up!

Equally rewarding is the faculty from 10 different disciplines
including a half-dozen exponentially growing fields. Going from a
lecture by Vint Cerf on the Internet's origin to Ralph Merkle on the
basics of nanotech to astronaut Dan Barry on high-risk
scenarios in space exploration, all in the span of four hours, is an
intellectual feast. Having Trustees Bob Richards, and Michael Simpson
present for the opening week, as well as my co-Founder Ray Kurzweil,
was fantastic. We all greatly enjoyed the screening of Transcendent
Man -- a truly beautiful film.

Our home at NASA Ames, courtesy of Dr. Pete Worden and NASA HQ is
tremendous. The facilities are excellent and the setting could not be
better. As Pete said in the opening ceremony...Welcome to Starfleet

SU runs 24x7, and the nickname "sleepless university" has its merits...
hopefully things will settle down shortly. As the first week of
"getting to know each other" and "introductory lectures" is behind us,
the real work of focusing on the curriculum and figuring out how to
bring life to the "10 to the 9th plus" design project (10^9+) is our
next challenge. How can all of the students, staff and faculty work
together to design technologies, systems or programs that can
positively affect one billion people within a decade?

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, SU is special in what and how it
teaches. Homo Sapiens have evolved as a species to think "locally"
and "linearly" and SU is focused on teaching how to think "globally"
and "exponentially." This is not an institution which seeks to
compete with the MITs, Stanfords, or Oxfords of the world, but rather
has been founded to complement those existing programs in a meaningful
and unique fashion. Most importantly to build a cadre of future
leaders who are connected and empowered to take on humanity's grand
challenges in a significant fashion.

It is my fervent hope that the Graduates of SU will be the leadership
that pursues X PRIZEs in the decades ahead.

For those of you not able to participate in SU this summer, there will
be two options for you going forward. Consider applying for the
GSP-2010 program which will take place in late June through August
2010. Next year we will be accepting ~120 students into the program.
Also, for the Executives interested in SU, we will be launching our
3-Day and 10-Day Executive Programs starting this November 2009. They
are limited in size so please let us know of your interest ASAP.

I'd like to close by saying thank you to our super-star staff and
teaching fellows who are working 48x7 to make this program happen.
Special thanks to Susan Fonseca-Klein, Bruce Klein, Emeline
Paat-Dahlstrom and our Executive Director, Salim Ismail for all that
you are doing.