SU works with organizations of all shapes and sizes: corporations, startups, NGOs, governments, academia, you name it! They help people understand how technology is transforming the future and how they can prepare for that transformation. In this episode, hear about…
- 2:00 How SU addresses the Global Goals
- 4:00 Solving Problems with Vision Instead of Tactics
- 7:00 SU’s Global Grand Challenges
- 12:00 The brain-computer and casting a vision
- 22:00 The Global Grand Challenges App
- 33:00 Challenge: Go have a conversation with someone about… the future.
[0:27] Singularity University was founded about a decade ago with a recognition that technology is advancing at an extremely rapid pace in the world, and it’s our responsibility to make sure that these powerful developments of technology are leveraged in a way that makes the world a better place.
“So the mission really is to build this community of leaders that are empowered and equipped to leverage the advancement in technology to tackle some of the greatest challenges that we face in the world,” Brett says.
What is Singularity up to with the Global Goals?
[02:00] SU thinks about addressing the Global Goals in two main ways:
Resource Needs These are the things we need to survive and then societal needs– the things that we need to thrive. So on the one side of resource needs, we’re thinking about everything from food, water to energy, space, and resources.
2. Preparing for the Future These areas of development include education, healthcare, and mitigation of future risks.
To tackle these two categories, SU has developed a very large global community that they have been building for this last decade. Today they are at about 200,000 people in 131 countries in scope.
There are chapters set up in 142 cities around the world, and now they are beginning to launch different types of country partnerships to spread the global footprint. Brett says,
“We tried to bring together around this one common mindset and this one common vision of what we can do together and what we can accomplish.
We believe we have with these tools in our world, like technology to bring about a future of abundance to bring about a future where people, no matter where you are on this planet, you’re no longer experiencing these different types of global grand challenges or they’re at least being reduced in some meaningful way.”
Solving Problems with Vision Instead of Tactics
[04:13] The SU community frames the global grand challenges with a slightly more broad view on the future state that we can imagine within each of these challenge spaces. Brett mentions that there’s something really fascinating in the psychology of problem-solving that has come up as their community has taken on the goals: humans tend to react to problems with fixes and solutions, rather than creating a vision for a new possible future.
“The vision tends to get a much more compelling response from people,” Brett says.
The Stimson Center Study
[04:57] The Stimson center is a nuclear threat reduction think tank. They were curious about why people globally were not actively getting involved in the question of nuclear threat. It’s a very real, very tangible issue for people today… but no one was getting involved.
What they discovered was that the more seriously a threat or a problem was framed, the less likely people were to actually get involved in solving it. It’s sort of an unexpected psychological reaction where people think “oh, if it’s such a serious problem, then someone smarter and more specialized must be taking care of it and I don’t necessarily need to take action.”
This research pointed the Stimson center to look toward the future vision that people can create together. a future vision is more motivating and it doesn’t elicit that same “someone else is taking care of it” reaction.
[05:44] “So that idea is really baked into our approach to the global grand challenges. We’re creating future visions of what we can achieve, and we are inviting people to come together and take action as a community.”
SU’s Global Grand Challenges
The Global Grand Challenges road map will be created together with SU’s global community, faculty, startups and partners to become a core part of their thought leadership. They will:
- Help people find the opportunities that truly make sense for them to take on.
- Show the small steps each group can take.
- Show some of the large steps we can take as a community.
- Help orient people toward the types of R&D breakthroughs that we might need in order to push an industry or push a challenge space forward.
- They’ll include policy changes that we believe would be very helpful in shaping the correct ecosystem to let this change come about.
- The GGC’s will also incorporate technological developments to guide people through leveraging technology.
The Brain Computer
[12:27] Ray Kurzwell had one specific prediction that influences SU greatly: that within 10 or 15 years people will be able to hold in our hands a computer that has the processing power of a human brain for $1,000.
So that’s a computer that can process 16 trillion calculations per second and we’ll have that kind of computing power in their hands.
[14:54] The prediction is that this power of computing and access to technology will be spread all around the world. It will begin opening up completely new markets… completely new communication channels. It will begin to level the playing field a little bit more from country to country and from continent to continent.
The Exponentially Growing SU Community
[20:29] “So we have this massive community of 200,000 people in 131 countries and right now that community convenes primarily around geographies and country partnerships that we have. But we’ve been asking, “how can we start to create smaller action groups within that large Global SU community? Can they come together around existing interests and existing industries?
These are called the Singularity University micro-communities.
Measuring, Reporting and Validating Micro-community Actions
[21:12] Brian asks, “How do we truly take ownership for something that’s happening out in the world, especially when it’s happening in such a distributed manner? We’ve had about 5,000 initiatives reported from around the world… but we know there’s so much more we’re not capturing.”
[24:28] Just this week we launched a brand new feature through our app, which you can download from the App Store or from Google Play and it. It’s a feature called Impact Goals, and we’re kind of asking our community to set some goals with us as we come into 2019.
So it’s a really simple framework for setting the goals that you would like to achieve in whatever timeframe you’re looking for.”
The app has 6 different pathways:
- Creation of a new organization
- Innovation within your existing organization
- Education and awareness campaigns
- Mobilization of resources
- Pursuing policy
- Pursuing research and development
Challenge: go have a conversation with someone about… the future.
[33:14] We actually have some really amazing pop culture that we can turn to, Brian says. Whether it’s Scifi that you’re reading or it’s TV shows or movies, we already are seeing questions of the ethical dilemmas and the interpersonal dilemmas. And, some of the social challenges we’re going to see.
“We’re beginning to see these really pervade a popular media. And that makes me really, really excited because that provides framing for people to actually engage in the future together. You can look at possible probable futures and have a meaningful conversation about them without really overextending yourself to try to grasp at new information, or find something that’s not in your world.”
Black Mirror and Star Trek
Brett recommends watching Black Mirror, a TV show about some of the ethical dilemmas that may come up as technology develops more and more. But don’t just watch it, he says, … go have a conversation about it with your family or friends afterward.
[35:35] “I was watching Star Trek Discovery when it first came out, and I specifically remember a scene where the main character is arguing with an AI. She’s reasoning with an AI to try to release her from imprisonment and they’re going back and forth about what moral standard is the most important.
It was this fascinating scene to think about… this is actually something we might have to deal with at some point in time. How do we encode moral and ethical frameworks into our technology? And then how do we actually reason with it and help it evolve?”
That will be the game… constantly evolving. Faster than the technology, hopefully…
- Get ready for the Global Grand Challenges! They’ll be released soon… with roadmaps we can actually use to make a difference, and make better business decisions.
- Challenge: Keep an eye out for the Road Maps!
- Challenge: Join one of Brett’s workshops if you’re near San Fransisco.
- Challenge: Log one of YOUR goals in the App! You can download it here: