A year ago, I was invited to visit Singularity University. I had no idea what it was, but had heard of a “sci-fi/hi tech school” on NASA’s campus in Mountain View, California. I thought I would make a brief visit. Entering the campus, it felt like I was going into the underground bunker in Cheyenne Mountain. There, I listened to lectures by three-time astronaut Dan Barry on robotics/artificial intelligence (AI) and Stanford professor Daniel Kraft on advances in DNA processing. And I saw a demo of a “bionic man”. I ended up canceling all my meetings and spending much of the day there.
That visit changed my thinking about what is possible in solving the problems of humanity. I had no idea how technologies that we used to read about—like AI, nanotech, and robotics—were all still alive, advancing rapidly, and converging. I realized that the next 5-10 years may be when the magic happens—robots that communicate with us; Star Trek-like “Tricorders” that diagnose our health; 3-D printers/ “replicators” that print food, organs, complex devices, and houses; body sensors that monitor our health, and so on. We can harness these technologies to solve the world’s problems.
The driving force behind Singularity is the same person behind the X Prize, Peter Diamandis (see this piece). He is one of the leading thinkers of this century and someone I have long looked up to. It was such an honor to have met him a few months ago through a good friend, Naveen Jain. But I was blown away when Peter offered me the role of President of Singularity, last month. But given all the things I have going on in my life and my need to manage my stress level, I couldn’t accept this. Instead, I worked out a half-time role at the school in which I am heading academics and innovation. I will be helping Singularity maximize its impact on humanity.
I have also accepted a fellowship with Stanford Law School at the Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance. My thanks to dean Larry Kramer and my new colleagues Dan Siciliano and Joe Grundfest for making this happen.
Until the end of the year, I have six universities on my title. I am sure that I have broken some kind of record. I was just an average student and could never have gained admission to any of these great universities. So this is my way of compensating! (Just kidding). My terms at Harvard and Berkeley expire in a few weeks. I want to thank my colleagues there—Richard Freeman, Elaine Bernard, Jack Trumpbour, and AnnaLee Saxeinan for letting me associate with them. I will always be grateful. And I expect to keep collaborating…
For Immediate Release
Contact: Diane Murphy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Singularity University Appoints Vivek Wadhwa Vice President of Academics and Innovation
Technology executive known for pioneering change and innovation will lead Academic and Research Programs and expand SU’s global network
Mountain View, CA (December 1, 2011) — Singularity University (SU) has announced the appointment of Vivek Wadhwa, a highly respected international scholar, entrepreneur and writer, as Vice President of Academics and Innovation. Mr. Wadhwa will oversee faculty and curriculum development and international outreach for Singularity University, which uniquely focuses on the impact and incubation of exponentially growing technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges.
“I’m thrilled to have Vivek as a senior member of the Singularity University team. His global vision and network will allow SU to fulfill its mission of inspiring and working with business leaders, scholars and innovators around the world,” said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Co-Founder and Chairman of Singularity University. “Vivek will lead SU in building and strengthening both its academic and its research programs.”
“Vivek brings a perfect blend of entrepreneurship and academics to this newly established role at Singularity. He is active in thinking about the future of technology and education and how we can develop these strengths to solve the grand challenges that face humanity,” said Singularity University CEO Rob Nail.
Wadhwa is equally enthusiastic. “I am joining SU because I strongly believe it to be one of the few institutions in the world that can positively affect humanity by teaching current and future world leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and innovators about exponentially advancing technologies,” he said. “Few are aware of the rapid advances occurring in the diverse fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, medicine, biotechnology, and computing or of how these technologies are rapidly converging to enable solutions to our world’s grand challenges.”
Vivek Wadhwa has also accepted a fellowship at the Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance, Stanford University. He will act as a bridge between Stanford and Singularity Universities. Additionally, Wadhwa is Director of Research, Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization, and Exec in Residence, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University; Senior Research Associate, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School; Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Halle Institute of Global Learning, Emory University; and Visiting Scholar, School of Information, UC-Berkeley. He is also an advisor to several start-up companies and a columnist for The Washington Post and Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and writes occasionally for several international publications.
Prior to joining academia in 2005, Wadhwa founded two software companies. As Vice President of Information Services for CS First Boston, he spearheaded the technology development of new computer systems that became the product of Seer Technologies. As Seer’s Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Wadhwa helped grow the nascent startup into a $118 million publicly traded company. Subsequently, Wadhwa founded Relativity Technologies, in which Forbes.com named him a Leader of Tomorrow. Fortune Magazine named Relativity one of the 25 coolest companies in the world.
Vivek Wadhwa earned an MBA from New York University after completing a B.A. in Computing Studies from the University of Canberra, in Australia. He is founding president of the Carolinas chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TIE), a non-profit global network intended to foster entrepreneurship. He has been featured in thousands of articles in publications world wide, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, and Science Magazine, and has appeared on U.S. and international TV stations, including CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC, and the BBC.
About Singularity University
Singularity University’s mission is to assemble, educate, and inspire a new generation of leaders in business, science, finance, and government who strive to understand and utilize exponentially advancing technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges. Founding Partners include Autodesk, Cisco, Google, the Kauffman Foundation, Nokia, and ePlanet Ventures. Since its founding in 2009, SU has hosted students and industry leaders from 40 countries at its campus at NASA-Ames Research Park, Calif.
SU offers both graduate studies and executive programs focused on the impact and incubation of exponentially growing technologies in six key areas: medicine and neuroscience, networks and computing systems, artificial intelligence and robotics, biotechnology/bioinformatics, nanotechnology, and energy and environmental systems.