(Above: Ray Kurtzweil, Me, and Peter Diamondies at Singularity University)
I've been working all summer with bright and wonderful people who want to improve the lives of 1 Billion People in 10 years. Catch a glimpse of our final projects at an online briefing tomorrow, September 13th.
Time: @ 9:30 AM PST/ 12:30 EST
There is a limited capacity of viewers, click on the link to sign up to watch ASAP!
The 2010 Singularity University Project Teams:
Sustainable Water Assets: Holistic alternatives to capital-intensive infrastructures
The crisis in water and sanitation is one of the greatest human development challenges according to the UN, NAE, and others. More people die from the lack of clean water than war. According to the UN, one billion people lack access to safe drinking water, 2.4 billion to adequate sanitation. A 2015 UN Millennium Development Goal is to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water. Household water use accounts for a small fraction of the need for clean water. The water needs of agriculture and industry are 20 times larger than personal water usage. The problems of access to clean water are linked to issues of energy, development, pollution, transportation, industrialization, infrastructure, and policies. This project will examine the opportunities presented by exponentially accelerating technologies such as biotechnology, nanomaterials, sensors, etc. to address needs for clean water. Opportunities will be examined across a variety of scales, from the regional or community scale to the residential level.
Food for Cities:Opportunities in controlled-environment agriculture and vertical farming
By the year 2050, the world population is expected to have grown by another 3 billion and nearly 80% of the total population will reside in urban centers. In order to feed the increase in population, an estimated 1 billion hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food if traditional farming continues as it is practiced today. In order to accomplish this dramatic increase in food production, new technologies are needed which increase the efficiency of large-scale food production while simultaneously eliminating current practices which are disastrous to the environment causing problems such as the release of CO2, the disruption of the nitrogen cycle, and the contamination of water and ecosystems.
Home Energy Use:Off-the-grid, stand-alone, carbon-neutral, residential energy systems
Close to 3 billion people, almost half the world population, do not have continuous and reliable access to electricity in their homes. Almost 90% of the energy produced and sold commercially still comes from three main fossil fuels: coal, oil, and gas. None of these is clean and renewable, nor are they cheap enough to afford by the majority of these 3 billion people. In addition, traditional energy distribution grids require complex electrical networks which are incredibly expensive to install and maintain and which take too long to build. The challenge becomes to rethink traditional and expensive centralized fossil fuel-based energy distribution networks and move to inexpensive decentralized networks — ideally, point-of-use systems — based on renewable or carbon-neutral energy sources.
To Boldly Stay:Extending humanity into the solar system
Rapidly and cheaply robotically scout the Moon, Mars, asteroids, and other deep-space destinations to find safe and interesting sites for humans to visit. Understand the space-resources available to humans enabling us to one day “live off the land.” Understand the hazards that places pose in their local environment, as well as prevent hazardous encounters with Earth. Synthesize robotic and human exploration, exploiting the strengths of each. Look at new designs, new materials, and new technologies that will transform not just where we can go but what we can do when we get there.
Upcycle:Waste reduction and reprocessing into useful products
Images of people living and working in a landfill-dominated landscape are a stark reminder that in the next decades the amount of products that human use and discard will grow exponentially. These products are filling our landfills, contaminating our waters, increasing the atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and wasting energy and raw materials. In order for us to make significant reductions in CO2 emissions and environmental contamination, we are going to have to rethink how we make and use things. The idea of closing the recycle loop is simple enough. Rather than dispose of products at end-of-life, the products are re-purposed, re-processed, or re-manufactured into new products. This project focuses not just on reductions of what goes to landfills, but on a systematic approach to product design to ensure that the landfills are not needed in the first place.