Singularity University is on a mission to make the world a more abundant place. In this episode, we’ll hear from Molly Pyle, the Senior Program Manager of Singularity University Programs and the Co-Chair of the Women’s Impact Network.
In this episode we’ll explore the SU ecosystem, learn about the resources they have available, and get a glimpse into the next-level community it will take to prepare for an exponential-tech-driven future.
[00:51] Ultimately we are working on preparing leaders of the future, whether it’s startup founders, leaders of governments, NGOs, you name it. We really want people to understand the opportunities and the implications of exponential technologies and help them become more connected. Connected to our global ecosystem as well as connected to the future business and tech landscape. We’re asking, how do we ultimately understand how to solve the world’s most urgent and pressing problems?
SU provides program services, information, education, and resources to help folks have the mindset, the tools, and the resources to ultimately transform the future and create a world of abundance.
How Singularity Started: Niching in Exponential Technology
[02:16] “Singularity University was founded by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis. These guys are very famous thinkers, inventors, futurists and entrepreneurs in their own right respectively. Ray and Peter came together one day and realized that the future’s going to look a lot different than what we currently understand it to be.
Exponential technologies are those which are rapidly accelerating and shaping major industries. And ultimately every aspect of our life and that if we can understand these exponential technologies like:
- Artificial intelligence
- Augmented and virtual reality
- Digital biology
- 3D printing
- Blockchain robotics
We want to know how they’re changing and the law of accelerating returns, as Ray Kurzweil called it. We can actually leverage that information to help make the future abundant and help make it a place where everyone has access to what they need to thrive.
With exponential tech, we believe it’s possible to live in a world where nobody wants for anything. It sounds like a crazy sort of idealistic future, but we really view that the future can be anything that you can create it to be.”
An Exponential Mindset
[04:09] “An exponential mindset or an abundance mindset refers to that point of view that we have here at SU: that ultimately there’s no problem that we cannot solve when we apply exponential technologies and innovative ways of thinking. We really have that hopeful outlook on the world and our future. So we want to focus our energies on bringing that information to others and empowering them to create that abundant future we envision.”
The SU Ecosystem
[04:55] SU has hubs or chapters that are led by alumni. People who have gone through a program with us before will go out then into the world and galvanize others around the mission. They can start a chapter anywhere in the world.
“Right now SU has 126 chapters across 63 countries. We have 191,000 community members who either have been to an SU program or are part of an SU chapter and are really keen on the exponential mindset.”
SU and the UN Global Goals
[08:47] The goals that SU focuses on are the following 12: Energy environment, food, shelter, space exploration, water, disaster, resilience, governance, health, learning and security. SU buckets various sustainable development goals under these 12 global grand challenges.
[09:18] “We are not telling you how to solve these problems. We are not standing on the stage dictating the future and exactly step by step what every country or government or city or organization needs to do. That would be really prescriptive, right? And it’s not our role to do that.
Our role is that of a convener. So we want to bring the right people together with the right skills and the right technology so that they can solve these big pressing problems that honestly should have been solved decades and centuries ago, but we’re still working on them because they’re that hard.”
The SU Community
SU resident entrepreneurs have 7 weeks of in-person mentorship and then 3 weeks of virtual mentorship. The point is to create a global network that resources mission-driven people.
SU is asking, how do you integrate a 190K+ people who already have a shared vision and value set? How do you make sure that they are authentically meeting and connecting with each other and helping each other?
The Startup Ecosystem for Global Problem Solving
[14:03] We’re on a mission within the next 10 years to back 10,000 impact startups. So 10,000 startups using technology, hopefully using exponential technology to solve a global grand challenge to make it a thing of the past.
[15:16] “I am the designer, right? I mean, I speak on behalf of them because they are what I believe the lifeblood relate to creating this transformation in the world is through the design of experiences.
[15:34] Molly puts together the right curriculum, the right content, the right speakers, mentors, faculty, and what the program is going to look like so that it transcends everybody’s expectations.
How are businesses going to anticipate technological shifts in your own business model and your roadmap for the next five years?
[21:31] “That’s what we want people to really be challenged with. We understand that is not an easy thing to figure out, so that’s why this program is a hybrid model of in-person and digital support. For a whole year.”
Content Style: Curriculum Designed for Startups
[23:20] “We’ve asked the experts to redesign their usual talks and lectures completely from the ground up with startup founders in mind.”
It’s important that the information is actionable or meaningful to the student. So, even if you think you’re an energy company using blockchain, you listen to the talk on quantum computing and then you listen to the talk on the blockchain, and you realize there is a convergence of those two technologies. You realize that quantum computing is the key for you to massively scale or for you to 10 x your impact.
The Global Startup Program
[25:06] SU is packaging up the content curriculum, the speakers and sending it all over the globe to be – the global startup program. Part of this will take place in another country, another continent, and then faculty and students will come back to Silicon Valley for the accelerate phase. They network like crazy, look for opportunities for funding, meet local mentors, and ultimately then launch out a big demo fair in the valley.
Where do I start?
[26:52] First, you can access SU’s digital content first and get all of that foundational knowledge before you even enter the first in-person phase. You can get access as a GSP participant to this digital platform with all of the digital courses. That way, you can feel really prepared walking in the first day of the program.
“But even if you’re not in GSP in those digital courses, I’d say they are a great place to start to understand what all this terminology means and beyond terminology. How do I actually integrate this to transform my life and build a future that I want to live in?”
A Fearless Abundance Mindset
[30:12] Molly says, “Once I heard Ray say in a talk, ‘optimism is not idle speculation. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.’
We can create the future that we want. It may seem really daunting and scary sometimes, but an abundance based mindset and ultimately a community of other people who can help you make it happen. With that, anything can happen.”
What do the next decades look like for SU?
[31:33] “We’re really working on our approach to sort of future growth with the platform mindset. So how can we build infrastructure that allows others to create, to convene and to connect ultimately to solve these really huge problems for humanity? So I’d say that’s what we’re thinking about.
Molly talks about the innovators and geniuses in emerging markets who have the creativity to solve global challenges.
[34:52] “If we get voices in the room and people around the table who maybe aren’t often invited- they have answers that are just waiting to be scaled, waiting to be acted upon. To me, that’s also what entrepreneurship is about. It’s a way of, if I may be radical here, decolonizing what current power structures look like by providing people with information, power, resource, and opportunity to create things. They may have never had that opportunity before.”
Molly emphasizes how many of us are all trying to solve the same problems. What kind of velocity could we create once we work together, across genders and cultures, to solve problems?
- SU is a global organization – because the problems and solutions are global.
- Challenge: join the SU virtual community and download the app.
- Let’s increase the speed of our feedback loops, or we won’t be positioned and ready for the ever-changing future.