Exponential technologies and Singularity University NL in the Dutch media

The last couple of months have been quite hectic for Singularity University NL. We’ve opened up our events for the public and already have had 2 very successful editions of our Meetups (See the SU NL Meetup #1 Recap). We’re also organizing an exclusive trip to Singularity University HQ and Quantified Self Global and some amazing technology startups in October 2013.

One of the biggest highlights though was a special episode of VPROs Tegenlicht (video, partly Dutch) about Abundance, featuring Singularity University Founder Peter Diamandis and Jack Andraka, amongst others. After the episode there was a live chat with Jack and Yuri van Geest (SU NL Ambassador).

Since then, many news items have come out about exponential technologies and Singularity University. Below is a summary of what you definitely shouldn’t miss:

  • Financieel Dagblad – 10 pages about exponential technologies (pages 36-45, in Dutch)
  • Financieel Dagblad – Items about exponential technologies in health and FutureMed (in Dutch)
  • BNR Newsradio – Future of the Netherlands in 2025 (in Dutch)
  • NRC – Items about exponential technologies and Quantified Self (like with Facebook to see the full content, in Dutch)
  • VOZ Magazine – item about Jack Andraka (in Dutch)
  • Fast Moving Targets – Interviews with Yuri van Geest (SU NL, QS Europe) and Maarten den Braber (SU NL, QS Europe) (in Dutch)
  • Below is another Fast Moving Targets interview with Yuri van Geest during the last QS Europe conference.

Dutch winner of the NASA-Google healthcare contest announced by Singularity University

Rotterdam, 4 April 2013 – The winner of the second annual Dutch NASA-Google Innovation Competition was announced on April 2nd at the Singularity University NL event. Remco Bloemen wins a ticket to participate in the Singularity University (SU) 10-week summer program at the NASA campus in Silicon Valley in the United States, worth 30.000 US Dollars. He came up with an unique solution to radically improve the Dutch healthcare: First Diagnosers for early medical diagnosis


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How to radically improve healthcare? 3 pointers to improve your chance to win the SU ticket!

A few days ago Singularity University NL announced that Dutch citizens could now compete in a unique contest to radically improve the Dutch healthcare. The prize: a ticket, worth 30.000 dollar, to participate in the Singularity University (SU) 10-week summer program at the NASA campus in Silicon Valley in the United States.

So how can radically improvement really be achieved? Here are 3 key pointers that might help you win the ticket:

1. Think exponentially

First, if you want to think radical you need to stop thinking linear and start thinking exponentially. Ray Kurzweil, co-founder of the Singularity University, has a clear example:

Imagine someone asked you “How far will you be if you take 30 steps?” Most would be able to guess their location in a very accurate manner. But what if they asked you “How far will you be if you take 30 exponential steps?” With exponential steps this means 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, and so on until you have repeated this 30 times. Can you imagine where you will be? Not likely since it is going be 1 billion steps away. (Source: FutureMed).

A real life example of exponential technology is the microchip. Moore’s law predicted that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This has been true for decades. 5 years ago you could not have predicted the computer power of your smartphone today with linear thinking (remember there was a time before the iPhone?). However, if you would have thought exponentially you would find it quite logical where we stand today. Now, with this in mind, where will we stand 5 years from now?

If you want to know more about Ray Kurzweil’s perspective of Health and Medicine, read this Forbes’ article

If you want to know more about Ray Kurzweil and his vision on the Singularity in general, check out his talk here:

Ray Kurzweil: How to Build a Mind from Singularity Institute on FORA.tv

2. Think digitalization & dematerializing

Radical impact means not reaching hundreds or thousands, but reaching millions. How can this be done? Your idea needs to be able to scale and this can be done by digitalization and dematerializing.

First, digitalization: Venture Capitalist Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz said it best “Software eats the world”. What does that mean? It means that when you can turn a process or a product into software you can measure and improve faster and cheaper and this in turn can disrupt an industry. An example of digitalization in the healthcare sector is Patients like me where patients can share their experiences. The data that comes out of this, such as outcomes of treatments, is used by the pharmaceutical companies to improve their medicines faster than was possible before this digital community was available.

Second, dematerializing: Another benefit of digitalization is that fewer hardware is needed. As Peter Diamandis, also co-founder of Singularity University, explains you used to buy a flashlight in a hardware store, now you just download the app. In the healthcare sector you see the same trend: bulky hardware is replaced with light scalable solutions, such as the optical microscopy project by UCLA

3. Think different

Finally, to think radical, you’ll need to think different. Luckily, there is a place for those who think different: The Solve for X community.

Solve For X is a place to hear about and discuss radical technology ideas for solving global problems. Radical in the sense that the solutions could help millions or billions of people. Radical in the sense that the audacity of the proposals makes them sound like science fiction. And radical in the sense that there is some real technology breakthrough on the horizon indicating that these ideas could really be brought to life.

Solve for X is a great way to get your mind blown. For example, did you ever think about Nanorobots that deliver cancer drugs specifically to tumors?

For more inspiration on the future of health and medicine also check FutureMed part of the Singularity University. They just had a summit where the latest technologies were presented. You can find the summary here.

Hopefully these pointers will give you inspiration for your radical idea. Good luck!

Singularity University NL announces new contest to radically improve the Dutch healthcare

Rotterdam, 28 January 2013 – The second annual Singularity University NL Conference was successfully held this week in cooperation with Deloitte at the symbolic highest location in the Benelux: The Maastoren. 100 C-level innovators from the top companies in the Netherlands, such as Shell, Cisco, Philips, KPN and KLM were inspired by international speakers of Singularity University Global, 3D Systems, Quantified Self, NASA, Google, Lean Startup and the 6 best Dutch Emerging Startups. During the day it was announced that Dutch citizens can now compete in an unique contest to radically improve the Dutch healthcare and win a ticket to participate in the Singularity University (SU) 10-week summer program at the NASA campus in Silicon Valley in the United States, worth 30.000 US Dollars.

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Singularity University NL 2013: The Technology driven CEO

“We present technological forecasts to help you better predict the future and take actions strategically” [Singularity University]

How will new technology disrupt our lives and businesses coming 5 years? What global challenges can get unexpected solutions with disrupting new technologies already available? What are the biggest market opportunities? And how to create an organizational culture that recognizes and adopts these new technological opportunities?

In exclusive partnership with Singularity University (SU) founded by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis and driven by NASA, Google, Cisco and Autodesk, we selected top notch speakers to update you during a 1-day event on the explosion of new technologies that will emerge the coming years.

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Exponential technologies open up the space frontier

There are a lot of exciting developments going on in space related activities this year. Unless you are living under a (Marsian) rock, you probably have heard of the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity, that landed a few weeks ago after seven minutes of terror. Also, SpaceX was the first commercial company that delivered cargo to the international space station in May, a feat previously only done by the countries Russia, the EU and US. And if that weren’t enough Planetary Resources announced they will start mining asteroids in the not too distant future!

Small teams, big impact
One of the underlying factors that make these spectacular project possible is the power of exponential technologies: with the growing computing power and smaller hardware more can be achieved with less money and smaller teams than ever before. The Apollo project took an estimated 400.000 people and $24 billion (roughly $200 billion in 2012 dollars) to put 12 man on the moon. The Mars Science Laboratory mission took $2.5 billion and only a few thousand people were involved in the project. And while the cost of the NASA shuttle to the ISS were $1.5 billion per flight and needed 5000 full-time employees, SpaceX will now do this for less than $133 million per flight and will only take about 1800 employees.

Revolution in access to space
In his talk Lawrence Williams, former vice president for strategic relations at SpaceX, explains how they were able to reduce the cost per flight.

As he explains there is no silver bullet to lower the cost to space, but it took several innovations to achieve this. Two developments that contributed to cost reduction are the cheaper (computer) hardware and the ability to simulate flights with the computer power that is now available, saving resources and time. One of the exciting developments to reduce the costs even further is the Grasshopper. The first fully reusable rocket. It will revolutionize access to space.

Asteroid mining
That revolution is what Peter Diamandis (founder of SU and space enthusiast), is betting on. A few months ago his team got a lot of media attention when they presented their plan to start mining the asteroids that are passing earth at relatively close distance. Their agile approach will be the key to success: the team consist only out of a few dozen experienced engineers that will construct small modular satellites. The first satellites will be telescopes that will look for high potential asteroids and will launched at the end of 2013. The next step will be to actually go to those asteroids and to get a closer look. Finally, when the right asteroids are found they will mine the rich minerals, such as platinum, and bring them back to earth.

You too can be part of the space revolution
Exponential technologies bring another benefit to the space industry. Thanks to the lower cost of hardware and computer power it also democratizes access to space. Many small teams now build and launch their own satellites and the good part is that you can actually be a part of the team! On Kickstarter you will find several teams that need your help to get their project into space.

So it looks like the space revolution has started and as one commenter noted on the planetary resources site “the headlines of 2012 finally start to look like the 2012 we thought it would be!”.

Quantum computing: High probabilities & possibilities

Last month Dutch scientist Leo Kouwenhoven and his team at the TU Delft published a paper in the journal Science in which they say they were able to make the Majorana fermions appear by exposing a small circuit to a magnetic field.

If the finding is confirmed, Majoranas offer an easier way of storing information in quantum computers, which currently rely on atoms; these atoms become unstable with even a small disturbance, while Majoranas would be much easier to keep stable.

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Augmented reality: Can we cope with the new reality?

On the 4th of April Google revealed ProjectGlass, a project that is taking concrete steps towards the realization of an augmented reality system that will empower users to do all sorts of activities they usually do with their smart phone, but is replaced with a pair of glasses and voice control.

The glasses will project a layer of visual information, such as alerts, video and directions on top of your normal field of vision.

Google is sharing their project to the world now because it wants to start a conversation about the pros and cons of this technology and wants to learn from our input. Here’s my food for thought. Continue reading

Are we accelerating towards the Singularity?

Last week Dutch enterprises, knowledge institutes and the government signed innovation contracts that in 2012 will generate approximately 2.8 billion Euros for research and development of innovative products and services in the top sectors of the economy, including high tech and life sciences.

Similarly, the European Commission has presented a package of measures to boost research, innovation and competitiveness in Europe last November. Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn announced Horizon 2020, an 80 billion Euros program for investment in research and innovation with the main focus on solving the EU’s grand challenges such as unemployment, environmental issues and an aging population.

These initiatives have a common ground with the Singularity University in that they both anticipate the current challenges facing Europe and humanity in general can be tackled using a number of exponentially growing technologies. Continue reading

Singularity and the birth of the new Star Child

According to Wikipedia ‘technological singularity’ refers to “a hypothesized future scenario in which some intelligent agent (…) rapidly attains much greater intelligence through iterative self-modification”. The singularity is a point in the (near) future where technological progress accelerates to infinity, by which people have technological means to create superhuman intelligence. According to Vernor Vinge (mathematist and science fiction writer who first coined the term of technological singularity), this will lead to the “end of the human era”. To be honest, and in spite of all the wonderful ideas I’ve read on this blog and elsewhere, this seems quite disturbing to me. The whole idea of computers smarter than men, cyborgs and DNA-programming gives me the creeps sometimes. As if we’ll be outsmarted and kicked of the earth pretty soon.

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