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February 06, 2009

Debating Singularity Education Programs

As previously noted on this site Ray Kurzweil (inventor, author of the Singularity is Near) and Peter Diamandis (Xprize founder and co-founder of the International Space University) are starting up a Singularity University.

This site has noted that the term "University" has some getting their expectations messed up. By examining the program and its stated model, International Space University, we can see that is a crash program and startup bootcamp with team projects.

Jamais Cascio, Open the Future, has suggested an alternative program with six-seven out of ten tracks focused on understanding the social, environmental, economic and other ills of our current and future world instead of 1.5 tracks in the Singularity University Program.

We should discuss the implications of something that is happening that will effect people and uses an early form of one of the Singularity technologies. So take a real case instead of generalities or hypotheticals.

Nanotechnology/chemistry is enabling waterproof sand to green the deserts.

By simply laying down a 10-centimetre blanket of DIME Hydrophobic Materials sand beneath typical desert top soils, the new super sand stops water below the roots level of the plants and maintains a water table, giving greenery a constant water supply. 3000 tons/day is already being produced. 1 ton of silicate coated sand would probably be good for 10 square meters. 4 days of production to cover one square kilometer. Germany regulatory bodies have declared the material to be safe. It helps conserve 75% of the water for irrigation in desert like conditions. 85% of the water in the Middle East and North Africa is used for irrigation.


This could help alleviate current and future water crisis, relieve poverty (more local agriculture), and reduce water wars and water political tension. Plus help preserve coastlines and help groundwater. Germany's environmental agency has declared the product safe.





Using this material to conserve irrigation water at the scale that is heading towards geoengineering (global scale man made changing of the environment).

The nanosand has taken seven years to develop, but one could imagine a project like this starting/emerging from a Singularity University team project. Would it have been more likely from Jamais program or from Ray's ? Is the nanosand a good thing and conserving irrigation water a good thing ? I think it is.

Tracks 2,4,5 of Jamais program.

Tracks 4,7,8 and 10 from Ray.

I think it would have been more likely to emerge from Ray's program. The key is not understanding the social, environmental or political abstract problems in an abstract way but the science of how to do it and the business of how to make it happen.

Has the Sierra Club developed and rolled out a viable technical solution for anything ?

FURTHER READING
Singularity University website

UK universities probably may give out some crash programs.

Stanford University. No one disputes that Stanford is a University. Standrod has a 6 week, $54,000 executive MBA program.

There are many other short exececutive MBA programs somewhere in Europe and North America and crash course technology programs. There is also specific training courses on using tools like scanning tunneling microscopes and other advanced equipment which are available at the NASA facilities.

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