I’ve been spending the last few days hanging around at Singularity University hosted at NASA Ames in Mountain View, CA (SIlicon Valley).
What an experience. The people here are great, real leaders and entrepreneurs. It’s been inspiring to talk to everyone. The format of the course is several weeks of lectures and presentations by distinguished speakers, site visits to companies and R&D labs, followed by several weeks where the students focus on their team projects, with a view to ‘Changing the lives of a billion people’. Several of the team projects are expected to flourish into companies continuing well after SU 2009 has finished.
The course takes place at the same time and place as the International Space University, so there is even more opportunity for networking with like-minded people. In fact SU was modelled on the successful courses that ISU has been running for 20 years.
I’ve mainly been talking to people about quantum computing and future quantum technologies. Everyone has been very receptive and the discussions have been heated and immersive. We’ve talked about everything from uploading to teleportation, and from solving world poverty to finding personal happiness. I’ve also met lots of fellow Singularitarians, and some fellow Transhumanists, which has also helped spark interesting conversation. It’s quite easy to sometimes feel the Loneliness of the Singularitarian scenario that Ray Kurzweil describes, but places like this make you realise that progress IS being made and that there ARE people who share your views, dreams, and goals.
One thing I’ve also learnt here is that people value art, creativity and entertainment as highly as business, tech and hard science. Silicon Valley defintely has a ‘Work hard, Play hard’ mentality. I’m hoping I can take some of these skills back and use them in the somewhat more restrained and introvert world of academic research.