Singularity University

The Future Will Be Exponential!


The world is currently in the middle of the digital revolution. Growing digitalization is driving technological development forward exponentially. Will computers soon completely take over the role of thinking for us and what will the future of humanity look like then? “That is actually inconceivable,” say the visionaries at Singularity University in sunny California, “but we are working on it.”

Silicon Valley is one of the world’s most important locations for the IT and high-tech industry. It is where companies such as Apple, Google, Cisco, and Tesla are based. And it is also the home of Singularity University. The think tank was founded in 2008 by aerospace engineer Peter Diamandis and Raymond Kurzweil, one of the most innovative minds of our time.

The institute’s task is to train the world’s decision-makers to think exponentially in order to solve the global challenges of the world with the help of new technologies. You could say that the course for the future of humanity may be set here.


Optimistic look into the future

The developments of recent years demonstrate that this new way of thinking is needed, especially in the area of computer technology. As Moore’s law from 1965 states, the power of computer chips doubles approximately every one to two years. In 1997 the processing power of the ASCI RED computer was 1.3 teraFLOPS – and cost no less than 55 M US dollars. In 2006 the PlayStation 3 games console was capable of 2.1 teraFLOPS – and cost just 499 US dollars. In 2015 the super-small Raspberry Pi Zero was launched onto the market, which delivers as many as 191 teraFLOPS – and costs just five US dollars. Today there are already computers that have reached the processing power of the human brain with 10,000 teraFLOPS. If this trend continues as expected, in 2045 there will be computers with the processing power of all the human brains combined. Sceptics see this as the end of humanity. The visionaries at Singularity University see things differently.

Kurzweil is also predicting an exponential increase in technological development by the year 2045. However, he looks into the future with optimism. The technologies that are also developing exponentially in the course of growing digitalization provide a little foretaste. DNA analysis of the human genome cost 2.7 M US dollars in 1999, for example. Eight years later, the figure was just 350,000 US dollars; by 2014 it was only 1,000 US dollars. Genetic research has benefited enormously from this development, as has medicine.

It will be possible to develop new drugs within a much shorter space of time and at a fraction of the previous cost; nanotechnology will lead to completely new treatment methods. Kurzweil believes it will even be possible to upload human intelligence, including a person’s own consciousness, in digitalized form and thus almost achieve immortality.

So will that spell the end of humanity? Perhaps humanity as we know it today. In any case, the exponential development of technology will advance our own humanity to an extent that is currently beyond our capacity to imagine. That is why it is so important to channel the exponential progress in the correct manner today and make the intellectual tools available to the decision-makers from the world of science, business, and politics. Singularity University is based on this idea.
And there is every chance that the visionary Kurzweil will be proved right with his forecasts for the future. After all, at the start of the 1990s he made far in excess of 100 predictions and “86% of those came to pass.”