Singularity University – successful first week

July 7, 2009

Dear SU Associate Founders, Faculty, Students and Friends –

We’ve just completed our first week of Singularity University and I have to say that 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. 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. They’ve been spectacular. Going from a lecture by Vint Cerf on the internet’s origin, to Ralph Merkle on the basics of nanotech, to a lecture by Astronaut Dan Barry on high-risk scenarios in space exploration all in the past of 4 hours is an intellectual feast. Having Trustees Bob Richards, and Michael Simpson here, as well as my co-Founder Ray Kurzweil here for the first five days 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 Academy!

SU runs 24×7, and the nickname “sleepless university” has its merits… hopefully things will settle down shortly. But none the less, the Canada Day party with the maple tree and flying canoe was great, and the July 4th singularity machine building competition, run by Harry Kloor, delivering 6 garnished hotdogs was a blast.

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 1 billion people within a decade.

As I mentioned in my opening remarks, SU is special in what and how it teaches. We 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 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.

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.

Thank you once again to Google & ePlanet Ventures our two Corporate Founders, and to the 12 Associate Founders for the seed capital required to launch this university.

I’d like to close by saying thank you to our super-star staff and teaching fellows who are working 48×7 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.

Best personal regards,
Peter H. Diamandis
Chairman & Vice-Chancellor