Today our distinguished delegation was honored in visiting the Singularity University. This is the temple of innovation innovation! Located in the Nasa Research Center in the heart of the Silicon Valley and a stones throw from the likes of Google Headquarters, it is the perfect place to wrap up a series of events that have engaged us over the past few days. There could be no better setting to seek further dialogue and gain more understanding on the power and responsibility of innovation.
The drive to change enterpreneurship from the Taylorism of capitalism into the tailor made model of makers, is something embodied in the many startup companies whose masterminds have been raised out of this university.
This could be seen in the power of 3D printing and the results that this relatively young technology has already obtained. From the ability to scan and recreate fossils, to the capacity for creating perfectly functional 3D printed guitars, the power of 3D printing is continuing grow just as the ability to print on paper grew exponentially before it. Yet the innovation of the Singularity University is certainly not restricted to 3D printing, their projects range from genome research and technology, to developing space projects and drones with the capacity to help with real world problems such as poverty and hunger.
Inspiring speeches by the likes of Jonathan Knowles elucidated on many of these ‘children of the singularity university’ and gave still further insight into the power of innovation, which is embodied in the exponential growth of technology and the importance of design with intent. In his own words: intent is what has allowed man to “move beyond making tools to make things, to tools that help us understand the consequences of making things”
Intent is essential so as to fight the unintended consequences of that which man makes. This is strongly related to the Bassetti Foundations goal of responsible innovation. As Piero Bassetti said in the closing comments of this wonderful meeting: ‘who is responsinble? Here we have many examples of brilliant innovation but the issue of responsibility is key and must be addressed. Who is going to be responsible for the future?‘
The designer has a responsibility to play, for the designer creates and if he does so correctly he can generate what Giovanni Lanzone terms ‘Beautility‘. Beautility blurrs the line between beauty and utility in design, and therefore brings an element of agency to that which the designer creates. Design will own the future, so it is important that this power advocated by design be made responsible. As Rodrigo Rodriquez, Vice President of Flos, stated: ‘The responsibility of the designer is to go on with the process of creation. It is not true that God rested on the 7th day, he merely stepped back and said: Designers you go on and do the rest!’
The Singularity University is a truly inspiring place for here you see the power of design in its full, yet is is essential that initiatives such as that of the Fondazione Bassetti bring a sense of responsibility to innovation, for all to often do we have to live with the unintended consequences of innovative ideas.
Below some photos.