Saturday, July 30, 2011

Google and NASA Create University for Would-be Futurists

Maybe you've wondered how someone gets to be a "futurist." Simple: Go to futurist university. Google and NASA will unveil just such a school at this week's TED conference; the head of the school with be one of the the leading futurists of our time, Ray Kurzweil. Fittingly, it's been dubbed Singularity University, after Kurzweil's much-discussed idea that computers will soon reach a threshold of such great power that they'll reshape our world.

The institute will offer courses in Kurzweil's traditional pet subjects: nanotechnology, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence. There will also be seven additional courses, geared to the world's greatest challenges, including energy and finance. As Kurzweil told the AP: "One of the objectives of the university is to really dive in depth into these exponentially growing technologies, to create connections between them, and to apply these ideas to the great challenges [facing humanity]."

Classes will take place at NASA's Ames campus. Sartup costs are being footed by Google, which anted $1 million, and several companies yet to be named, that will each donate $250,000. The university's first chancellor will be Peter Diamandis, chariman of the X Prize foundation.

Applications will be accepted at (which is currently crashed). The first year will see 30 students accepted; the year after that, 100. But penniless cranks need not apply, though rich ones can: Tuition will be $25,000 for a nine-week course that begins with a three-week general curriculum, and culminates in a subject specialty.


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