Singularity University appoints Neil Jacobstein to President

October 15, 2010

Singularity University has announced the appointment of Neil Jacobstein as the first President of the organization. Singularity University (SU) is a non-profit organization based at NASA Ames Research Park, and is supported by a group of Corporate Founders including Google, Kauffman Foundation, Autodesk, and ePlanet Ventures.

Since the University’s founding in 2008, Jacobstein has served the University part-time as co-chair of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Track. As President, Jacobstein will serve as the full-time chief executive, and guide the growth of the University as it responds to the changing educational needs of the executives attending SU’s Executive Programs and the future leaders attending its 10-week Graduate Studies Program. Salim Ismail, Singularity University’s Executive Director, will now focus on leading the University’s global development to expand its presence and activities worldwide.

Singularity University’s curriculum focuses uniquely on exponentially growing technologies and their impact on companies, industries and humanity. The University’s educational experience is centered on key exponentially growing technologies including: networks, quantum and molecular computing, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology/bioinformatics, nano materials, molecular manufacturing, and energy systems. In addition to these technical foundations, the University is also focused on business implications and ethical issues associated with these technologies.

“Jacobstein was selected unanimously by the Singularity University Board of Trustees to become our first President,” said Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “Neil’s extensive R&D experience in AI, nanotechnology, energy, and environmental sciences, coupled with his management experience make him an excellent choice to take the University to its next level. Neil possesses a rare blend of vision, compassion, and creativity that will serve students, faculty, staff, and the broader community extremely well.”

Chancellor Ray Kurzweil added, “Neil Jacobstein has a deep understanding of the significance of exponential technologies, and their potential to address the world’s biggest problems. He also has a keen appreciation for the potential risks of powerful new technologies, and the steps that must be taken to reduce those risks as we move forward. Singularity University is now poised to become a leader in higher education for exponential change.”

Salim Ismail added, “I’m thrilled to have Neil coming on board. He was at the founding conference, and has been involved since the very beginning. We couldn’t possibly find a better and more talented individual to guide Singularity University.”

Jacobstein is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Stanford’s Media X Program, and became a Senior Research Fellow in the Reuters Digital Vision Program at Stanford University in 2006. He has served as a technical consultant on research and development projects for leading business, government, and defense organizations including GM, Ford, FMC, P&G, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Applied Materials, NSF, DARPA, NASA, NIH, EPA, DOE, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. He was CEO at Teknowledge Corporation, an early AI company. Since 1998, Jacobstein has reviewed technical papers on the Program Committee of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence’s (AAAI) Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI) Conference. He co-chaired AAAI’s 16th Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence Conference, and chaired the 17th IAAI Conference.

In 1999, Jacobstein was selected as a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. He has moderated many Socrates seminars, and has co-chaired the Socrates Program Committee for several years. Jacobstein was a Graduate Research Intern in the Learning Research Group at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, and a consultant in PARC’s Software Concepts Group. He spent four years doing renewable energy and environmental research as a Research Associate with the Center for the Biology of Natural Systems. Jacobstein has been Chairman of the non-profit Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) since 1992. He has served in a wide variety of executive and advisory roles for industry, nonprofit, and government organizations. Jacobstein continues to give lectures, seminars, and workshops worldwide on the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. He is a member of AAAS, AAAI, IEEE, and the ACM.

Singularity University (SU) is an interdisciplinary university whose mission is to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges. With the support of a broad range of leaders in academia, business and government, SU hopes to stimulate groundbreaking, disruptive thinking and solutions aimed at solving some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. SU is based at the NASA Ames campus in Silicon Valley.

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