SU Faculty Finds: What to Read in January

Tiffany Vora
Jan 24, 2019

At SU, our faculty members are always discovering great content that sparks fascinating discussions among ourselves and with those of you who attend our programs. Here are a few of the items that had us buzzing this month!

Want To Know When You’re Going to Die?

Um, yes? Wait … no. I mean, yes! This article from MIT Tech Review made me question my vision for my own future, and how technology will both support me and challenge me. As a data-driven person, I was interested to apply what I’ve learned about AI and healthcare to one of the very few events I am certain that I will experience. And by thinking about death, I found myself thinking more about my life, and what is most important to me. This article was an excellent complement to one of the most important books I’ve ever read: Dr. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. If you have a heartbeat or love someone who does, I strongly recommend reading both of these works.

What I Learnt Pulling A Straw Out Of A Turtle’s Nose

This essay from PhD candidate Christine Figgener spoke to me for all the right reasons. By weaving a compelling scientific story—the growing catastrophe of plastic pollution in our oceans—with her personal experiences, Figgener prompted me to examine the role that social media plays in the scientific process. As a scientist, I’m cautious about the words I use and how I use them. As a woman, I guard my privacy carefully. As an educator, though, I’m often called on to overstep my boundaries in service to what I believe is a greater good: opening eyes and transforming minds. Think about Figgener the next time you see a story about an exponential technology or a GGC. How will you choose to engage in dialogue?

Turtle affected by sea pollution

Unleashing Some Of The Most Ambitious Women On The Planet

My colleague Darlene Damm published this article on Singularity Hub nearly a year ago—just as the #MeToo movement was gathering steam. As I think about my goals for 2019, particularly in my capacity as Faculty Director, I’m striving to ensure that diversity is an explicit goal, not an afterthought. There’s nothing “nice to have” about a level playing field … and fields don’t just level themselves. This article showcases success stories from some of the amazing women who are part of the Singularity University ecosystem. They inspire me every day. I hope they’ll inspire you and the women and men in your life, too.

The World Is Fixated On The Past

Once again, The Economist challenges us to face realities without abandoning hope. Although the world is, by most measures, the best it ever has been, the resurgence of tribal politics, culture, and nostalgia make it easy to lose sight of that progress. The call to action in this Leaders piece should resonate with every member of the Singularity University community: harness technology, education, and optimism to solve humanity’s most daunting challenges. I was particularly moved by the end of this article. “The best way to harness the past demolishes prejudice and opens horizons. A proper sense of history helps you grasp that progress depends on facing up to hard choices.” This is what I work toward, every day, at Singularity University.