PlanetTechNews Interviews Anish Mohammed, Singularity University Alumnus
Singularity University (SU) was founded by Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis with the goal of exposing brilliant minds to shifting paradigms; SU has been an experiment in looking at the possibilities of exploring uses of exponential technology to impact the world.
Each summer around 80 people from many countries are brought together at SU campus located in NASA Ames campus for 10 weeks. One of the attendants in the summer 2013 was Anish Mohammed.
Anish is a remarkable multi disciplinarian. He describes himself as someone who is passionate about technology, especially cloud computing, big data, cryptography and security. Anish is also an avid robotics enthusiast.
In this interview with PlanetTechNews, Anish describes his personal experiences in the SU summer course and his views on technological developments in the future.
Please tell us briefly about you career and interests.
So far I have worked as a medical doctor, bioinformatician, security researcher/cryptographer and most recently as strategy consultant. I have a wide and varied interests, from philosophy and economics to robotics to cryptography to data science.
You attended Singularity University-SU last summer. In which main ways is SU different from standard, accredited universities or summer schools?
SU has very wide and varied participants 80 participants from 38 countries with very varied backgrounds from social entrepreneurs to scientists. Another thing which differentiates SU is the wide and varied topics which is covered from nano tech to design.
The GSP [Graduate Studies Program] is organised in 10 weeks, the format has been evolving and our batch had half talks and half projects. The first half is listening to talks by very well known folks in the particular field. This is generally followed by fireside chats where folks who are well known entrepreneurs would be interviewed by one of the faculty -typically Peter Demantis. And audience would have their chance to ask questions.
In addition to talks we have access to the labs, biocurious, some labs in Stanford, labs in Triple Ring, some access to Autodesk….. of the top of my head. Depending on the area, the access to labs and resources might vary. In addition there are optional workshops and visits. The most on demand was visit to Google (labs).
Generally life in SU is busy - SU is said to stand for Sleepless University :)
What are the highlights of your experience during the time at SU?
Highlights include nano tech being taught by Ralph Merkel to Data Science by Jeremey Howard
Ralph Merkel is one of the thought leaders in the space of Nanotechnology, especially molecular manufacturing. Being taught by him on molecular manufacturing would be a dream for anyone interested in Nanotech.
Similarly, Jeremy Howard is the president of Kaggle, the premier Data Science portal. He is an exceptional teacher, and he heads the data science stream, being given a hands on introduction to Data Science by him, again, is an opportunity which anyone with Data Science interest would find hard to miss.
What is your take on the idea of technological singularity?
The uncertainty only remains for the time by which it happens.
What you consider the most important things you learned from SU and how is this changing or impacting on your career?
Being different is normal and being interested in larger than normal set of topics is ok, it could be turned into an advantage. Exploring ways by which I could turn my lack of focus on just one topics into an advantage.
How students/other people interested in SU can be involved in SU work in their own countries; in particular, in the UK?
Most countries have Global Impact Challenges (GIC), sign up to these and compete, this would give you a chance to attend GSP [Graduate Studies Program]. So far no GIC competition are planned for UK
What is your advice for students intending to apply for SU places?
Be bold, be different, have an original story