While the news is full of stories about the launch of Singularity University
, this isn't exactly news. Ray Kurzweil admitted he was working on the idea at least a year ago
, and the details of various planning meetings were made pretty public
during last year as well. There had been some push among some to not
call it the Singularity University, as the word Singularity has some negative connotations attached to it (mainly, people thinking the whole concept of a coming "singularity" -- or the point at which technology advances to a point that "lets humans transcend our biological limitations" -- is just outright nutty). However, Kurzweil is nothing if not a persistent promoter of the idea, originally popularized by Vernor Vinge, and he was adamant about the Singularity name sticking around.
Still, while I'm a bit skeptical of the whole "singularity" concept, you can't deny that the university's plans are ambitious (and potentially inspiring). It's brought together a wide range of folks from a variety of different fields, and the idea is to have intensive 9 or 10-week programs (some news reports say 9, others 10) for grad-level students, where they learn a variety of different subjects, but then work together to try to tackle a "big problem" (world hunger, climate change, etc.) using their diverse backgrounds and knowledge. For the privilege of saving the world (and, who knows, maybe avoiding mortality) you get to pay $25,000 -- which seems a bit steep. The "school" is also offering 3- and 10-day classes intended for those already in the workforce, which sounds like traditional executive education programs, which tend to be big moneymakers for universities.
It should be fun to at least watch where this goes. It's great to see big ambitious plans take shape, though it's really difficult to actually make them successful. I'd bet that it will prove much harder than the organizers expect... but if it works, that would certainly be pretty cool.