New Educational Institution Focuses on Accelerating Technologies to Address “Humanity’s Grand Challenges”

With the support of NASA, Google and a broad range of technology thought leaders and entrepreneurs, a new university will launch in Silicon Valley this summer with the goal of preparing the next generation of leaders to address “humanity’s grand challenges.” Singularity University (SU) ( 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 whose developments are exponentially accelerating.

SU co-founders Dr. Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Peter Diamandis will unveil plans for the new university today at the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference in Long Beach, California. “We are now in the steep part of the exponential trajectory of information technologies in a broad variety of fields, including health, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence,” said Kurzweil. “It is only these accelerating technologies that have the scale to address the major challenges of humanity ranging from energy and the environment, to disease and poverty. With its strong focus on interdisciplinary learning, Singularity University is poised to foster the leaders who will create a uniquely creative and productive future world.”

The People Behind SU

SU has been founded by a group of leaders including renowned author and futurist, Dr. Ray Kurzweil; space entrepreneur and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, Dr. Peter Diamandis; Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Pete Worden; co-founder of the International Space University, Dr. Robert Richards; International Space University President, Dr. Michael Simpson, and a group of Associate Founders who have contributed philanthropic capital, time and key relationships. Singularity University is also engaging a small number of corporate founding companies that will play a special role in the university’s growth and direction. The first Corporate Founder is Google and several more will soon be named. Speaking on behalf of Google, Chris DiBona, Open Source Program Manager, said, “Google is proud to be a founding Corporate Sponsor for the Singularity University. By focusing on exponentially growing technologies and their ability to address the world’s grand challenges, this interdisciplinary institution will fill a critical need.”

“We are reaching out across the globe to gather the smartest and most passionate future leaders and arm them with the tools and network they need to wrestle with the grand challenges of our day,” said Diamandis. “There is no existing program that will offer the breadth and intensity that SU will offer. During the year, between the Graduate Summer Programs, SU will offer a unique 3-day and 10-day program for CEOs and executives that will give them the forward-looking radar they need to determine how these key technologies might transform their companies and industries in the 5-10 years ahead.” “Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis have pulled together an extraordinary group of leaders across a broad spectrum of disciplines. The challenges facing our planet are profound,” said Dr. Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. “Creating a network of future world leaders across the range of exponentially growing technologies addressed by Singularity University will have profound implications. We need the best hearts and minds working together toward a common cause.”

A First-of-Its-Kind Curriculum

Developed in consultation with some of the world’s leading thinkers and academicians in science, technology and ethics, the curriculum provides a broad, interdisciplinary exposure to ten key fields of study: future studies and forecasting; networks and computing systems; biotechnology and bioinformatics; nanotechnology; medicine, neuroscience and human enhancement; AI, robotics, and cognitive computing; energy and ecological systems; space and physical sciences; policy, law and ethics; and finance and entrepreneurship.

“The exponentially increasing power of computers and optical networks, when combined with developments in AI, nanotechnology, and other technologies, will create extraordinary opportunities,” said Dr. Larry Smarr, Harry E. Gruber Professor, Computer Science and Engineering at UCSD, and Director at California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. “Singularity University is uniquely positioned to prepare students for these coming innovations.” “It’s a first-of-its-kind curriculum, designed to provide students with a solid understanding of what is possible today, as well as an understanding of where the real opportunities exist for innovation that might spring from where the technologies converge,” said Salim Ismail, Executive Director of SU. “And our relationship with ISU gives us a living model to build and develop the university.”

A Home at NASA Ames

SU was founded on September 20, 2008 at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California. It is modeled after the successful International Space University, founded at MIT in 1987, which has become one of the leading interdisciplinary, international and intercultural institutions for the study of space.

Singularity University has leased space on the NASA Research Park campus, with plans for a permanent facility in the near future, and will be offering a 9-week graduate-studies program as well as 3-day “C-level” and 10-day “mid-level” management programs.

Among the University’s founders is Pete Worden, Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, in Silicon Valley. “The NASA Ames campus has a proud history of supporting ground-breaking innovation, and Singularity University fits into that tradition,” said Worden. “We’re proud to help launch this unique graduate university program and are looking forward to the new ideas, technologies and social applications that result.”

About SU

Singularity University (SU) is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges. With the support of a broad range of leaders in academia, business and government, SU hopes to stimulate groundbreaking, disruptive thinking and solutions aimed at solving some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley. For more information, go to


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