Renowned innovator, entrepreneur & billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson — known for founding the Virgin family of companies — recently posted enthusiastically about Singularity University on his official blog. His thoughts are below. He describes his deep interest in understanding the power of rapidly accelerating technologies — he mentions my ideas on singularity and my world view that knowledge can solve humanity’s biggest challenges. He gives some background on how I and Peter Diamandis, MD co-founded Singularity University.
Richard Branson met with Singularity University leader Gabriel Baldinucci, who headed up a group of top minds — meeting at Virgin’s think-tank island resort & conference center. The team gave Richard Branson a whirlwind tour of profound, emerging tech shaping our future landscape.
Branson has thoughts below on world impact. His own, heroic innovation efforts — through Virgin and beyond — aim to bring world equality, peace, safety, health, resource & energy abundance, global literacy, nature conservancy, and a new age of human prosperity. Like myself, he believes in the power of entrepreneurship. Branson talks about his adventurous projects at Virgin Galactic, a space age marvel.
I hope you enjoy!
— Ray Kurzweil
originally published in | Virgin :Richard Branson’s blog
post title | The pace of innovation
written by | Richard Branson
post date | February 6, 2017
One of the things I love is inviting fascinating people to listen and learn from. We recently welcomed a group of leading thinkers on cutting edge tech, the pace of innovation, the power of the individual, and growing risks and opportunities for humanity.
The group was led by Dione Spiteri and my friend Gabriel Baldinucci, who worked with me for 5 years, and is now growing Singularity University. They explained how we are at a unique point in history, with tech accelerating at exponential rates.
This isn’t random, they argued, but accelerating according to predictable curves. These speeds increase once they become digitized, which is why your laptop, TV and phone get smaller, faster and better every year.
Ray Kurzweil, co-founder of Singularity University, explains this fully in his book, The Singularity Is Near.
Peter Diamandis, the other co-founder of Singularity University, also founded the X-Prize, which led to the creation of Virgin Galactic. He sees tech as a resource liberating force.
It makes what was scarce abundant — internet, water, energy & cheaper, smarter phones. Peter Diamandis believes tech breakthroughs will solve humanity’s biggest challenges.
He sees advances in areas like food, water, energy, health, education, prosperity, security, governance — helping billions of people.
We were talking about everything: computing, solar and other energy tech, biotech & synthetic biology, 3D printing & materials, medical, virtual reality & augmented reality, robotics, artificial intelligence and satellites. Not only are all of these advancing at an exponential rate every year, they are converging, enabling breakthroughs.
For example, start-ups are building smaller, more powerful satellites — and they can’t afford to launch them on existing big rockets. So we’re building the small satellite launch service Launcher One to enable them to access space.
video | Virgin Galactic
Innovation in private space flight & satellite launch.
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video | Virgin
A graphic history of Richard Branson entrepreneurship & Virgin’s success.
“I always prefer looking forward than looking back — but sometimes a quick spin down memory lane can be a lot of fun. With that in mind, we put together this animation.” — Richard Branson
on the web
Virgin | welcome : the Virgin group
Virgin | our story : the history of Virgin
Improved solar & battery tech will drive energy cost so low that it’s abundant — giving people clean water and food. Artificial intelligence and robots will be ubiquitous, providing health care and driving. Genetic engineering will make great strides.
But it’s not all a rosy picture. There are risks, unintended side effects. They can be used by criminals. Cyber-crime and cyber-warfare between countries are increasing risks, as are long-term concerns about jobs, as AI and robotics accelerate.
While tech helps humanity, those benefits are not always distributed evenly. Many people will be displaced along the way. What good is a bunch of cheap technology and self-driving cars, if you can’t find a job?
With our global challenges, we are in a race for our lives. Disease resistant bacteria and climate change are two threats we are currently losing the battle against, potentially threatening humanity.
What we learned and discussed needs to be understood around the world, especially by global leaders of government and business, and individual entrepreneurs. How can governments and businesses organize against threats and turn them into opportunities?
How can individuals access tech to create solutions that impact billions of people, and thrive in a world of disruption? These are some questions the Singularity University community is discussing.
Entrepreneurs can and should, strive for moon-shot solutions, versus just another derivative app. That takes a different kind of thinking that we all need to promote. There’s never been a better time to be an entrepreneur, never a more important time to use business as a force for good. For those who have companies already, it means steering your resources and innovation to tackle big, pressing problems.
This is what Singularity University is about — people using business as a force for good, using tech to solve the world’s biggest problems. To learn more about exponential technologies, and join the community, head over to Singularity University.
There is a path to a better world in front of us, but there will be many pitfalls and challenges along the way. We need as many people as possible building the future we want for our children. The stakes are high, but you’ve never had so much power to participate. What will you do?
Richard Branson’s blog
image | Richard Branson of Virgin
on the web
Wikipedia | Richard Branson
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on the web | background
The Virgin family of companies & projects.
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Virgin | entrepreneurs
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about | Singularity University was founded in 2008 by Ray Kurzweil, chancellor & Peter Diamandis, MD, chairman. We educate, inspire & empower leaders to use exponential technologies — to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.
Our learning & innovation platform supplies the skills and network to build breakthrough solutions, so you can leverage emerging tech.
With our community of entrepreneurs, corporations, development groups, governments, investors and institutions, we have the ingredients to create an abundant future.
Singularity University serves individuals & organizations with a range of products to let them understand rapidly accelerating technologies that can improve life for billions of people, globally. Our products include custom educational experiences, conferences, plus labs to incubate corporate innovation & social impact projects.
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Essential links on Singularity University.
Singularity University | Ray Kurzweil
Singularity University | Peter Diamandis, MD
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Singularity University | YouTube channel
If you are not always there, it forces other people to call the shots, which in turn improves their own leadership skills, builds their confidence and strengthens your business. But whatever your approach, it is necessary to give other people the space to thrive, to catch people doing something right, rather than getting things wrong. Look for people who take their roles seriously and lead from the front, but who are not slow to see the lighter side of life. People who are inventive yet organised, focused yet fun, tend to be determined to succeed, and equally keen to have a good time doing it. A company should genuinely be a family, who achieve together, grow together and laugh together.
Steve Jobs wasn’t known for his sense of fun, but he was always at the centre of everything Apple did. Over his extraordinary career, he learnt the same lesson I have – that even when you’re successful, it is vital that you don’t solely lead your company from a distance. Walk the floor, get to know your people. Even though I don’t run Virgin’s companies on a day-to-day basis any more, I still find it crucial to get out and about among our staff. No one has a monopoly on good ideas or good advice, so as a leader you should always be listening. Be visible, note down what you hear and you’ll be surprised how much you learn.
Having said that, you also need to know your own mind. You have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk – and that’s something Jobs showed in everything he did. Nobody respects a leader who doesn’t know how to get his hands dirty and innovate personally. The trick is in striking the right balance between empowering your staff and being an example for them to follow.
Of course, there will be times when strong and decisive leadership is necessary, to make sure the right moves are made. If you place the emphasis on getting the little things right, and address the everyday problems that come up, you can encourage a culture of attention to detail. You can also have a lot of fun with these relatively tiny issues, whether it’s dealing personally with customers’ complaints – as Jobs often did via email – or surprising your front-line staff with a visit.
Despite his long battle with illness, Jobs never lost his love of Apple. Indeed, if you don’t enjoy what you do, then it isn’t likely to work out. I try to find fun in everything I do, from business commitments to philanthropic ventures, to my personal life. You are far more likely to be inspired and have great ideas if you love what you do, and can instill that spirit of fun throughout your company.
Jobs may not always have been the best leader of people – which may, in part, have been due to his health problems – but he was innovative, determined and, above all, passionate. Finding gaps in the market, and creating products that make a real difference to people’s lives, can only be accomplished if you have passion for what you are doing. If you make something you are proud of, that filters down to your staff, as well as your customers. Today, more than ever, you’ve got to do something radically different to make a mark.
In a 1997 marketing campaign for Apple, entitled “Think Different”, Jobs said: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” I am proud to say that, in the accompanying montage, he counted me as one of them. I think it’s an attitude that’s shared by all leaders who make a difference – and it’s one reason why, despite our vastly different styles, Steve Jobs was always the entrepreneur whom I most admired.
To read more of Richard Branson's thoughts, visit his blog: virgin.com/richard-branson/blog