Aaron Frank

Principal Singularity Expert: Augmented Reality / Virtual Reality

Aaron Frank is a researcher, writer, and consultant who has spent nearly a decade working in Silicon Valley. He was one of the earliest employees at Singularity, where he most recently served as Principal Faculty.

As a writer, his articles have appeared in Vice, Wired UK, Forbes, Venturebeat, and Singularity Hub.

As a speaker, Aaron has lectured for audiences and organizations including The Coca-Cola Company, Under Armour, the CIA and Department of Defense, FC Barcelona, the NBA and many others.

He routinely advises large companies, startups, and government organizations on trends related to a broad set of emerging technologies, with a focus on augmented/virtual reality and virtual environments.

Aaron began his work with Singularity University on the business side of the organization while it was a startup with fewer than 15 employees. He was a core part of the team responsible for the early stage growth of the company where he managed business development and strategic partnerships.

Prior to joining SU, Aaron worked at a Washington DC-based life science consulting firm.

Aaron is also a founding board member of Community Carrot, a 501c3 non-profit organization with a mission of breaking the cycle of poverty for Washington D.C.’s  youth, now also operating in Seattle. With funding from the local D.C. government, the organization provides entrepreneurship training and access to capital for young adults who grow up in poverty.

Originally from Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, Aaron has a degree in Communications and Philosophy from the University of Maryland, and an MBA from the University of Oxford. He is currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Speaking Topics

Decoding the Metaverse: Toward a New Spatial Internet

As the internet and world wide web has continued to mature over the past fifteen years, the development of online virtual environments has also taken shape. Now, we've reached a moment of hype and attention focused on a concept referred to as the "metaverse." At its core, the ‘metaverse’ represents a radical shift in the way we spend time online, and soon we will come to navigate an internet of game-like virtual environments where we'll work, play, shop, and connect with friends. These environments will become an increasingly relevant aspect of our personal and professional lives. But what exactly does the word 'metaverse' even mean? Most mainstream coverage quickly blows by their definition of the term and many discussions operate from different interpretations of what is coming. Grounded in his decade of work researching, using, and building online virtual environments Aaron Frank will introduce important context for navigating the questions surrounding this 'new tech obsession'. This presentation weaves together introductory topics ranging from augmented and virtual reality, game engines, virtual worlds, crypto-economic infrastructure and NFTs, and virtual economies.

Intro to Exponential Thinking: Progress at the Edge of Possible

Humanity has seen more progress in science and technology in the last 40 years than the previous 4000. Within the last generation, we have discovered the role that exponential growth plays in driving progress forward. We're making exponential advances in computing technologies, communication infrastructures, artificial intelligence, biotechnologies and more. Tools that were only available to the wealthiest research labs are being democratized such that small teams the world over, can now accomplish what only governments and corporations could do just 15 years ago. Our understandings of the past are no longer sufficient to inform us about where we are headed as a species. Understand how exponential growth in technology will accelerate human progress towards the edge of what's possible....

The Metaverse, Web3, and the Virtual Economies of Life Online

Concepts like the Metaverse, Web3, and NFTs are suddenly the latest technology obsession among investors, developers, consumer brands, and the media.In this session, Aaron Frank will draw on his nearly a decade of work researching the development of online virtual environments to explore the ways newly forming virtual economies are shaping the modern internet. He will explain in simple language, terms like ‘the metaverse’, NFTs, and ‘web3’ (a vision of a decentralized internet) and the role that the financial value of in-game tokens and cryptocurrencies play in mediating this new kind of internet. The financial value of a variety of cryptocurrencies and NFT projects have captured headline news and this session is about exploring the substance behind the hype.The session weaves together concepts ranging from virtual and crypto currencies, new business models of the metaverse, and the role of online virtual economies in our life online.

The Experience Machine: The Worlds of Augmented and Virtual Reality

Spatial computing technologies like augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) have seen an impressive pace of development in recent years.Everything from training and development, manufacturing, education, and more will be upended by these new computing tools. In this session, participants will explore the way these platforms unlock human potential by leaving the world of 2D screens and moving computing into our three-dimensional lives.We’re also living through the early days in the development of fully digital worlds including immersive online spaces like those depicted in Ready Player One. Participants will learn about these VR worlds as well as AR concepts like the “mirrorworld” and AR Cloud, which some analysts believe will become the most important and valuable piece of computing infrastructure in the world—more valuable than Google’s PageRank index or Facebook’s social graph.Learn how these augmented and virtual reality concepts will come to reshape the way we live, work, and play in the coming years.

The Experience Machine: Welcome the Worlds of Virtual Reality

Robert Nozick, the famed Harvard Philosopher, posed the "Experience Machine" thought experiment. What if you could experience any simulated pleasure or experience anything you might ever desire. Would humanity prefer these virtual environments in favor of "reality?" Virtual Reality technologies have seen explosive advances in recent months moving us ever closer to Nozick's hypothetical vision. Where can Virtual Realities take us? What are the threats? Where are the opportunities? Virtual Reality and related technologies are poised to reshape all areas of society in the coming decades.

Exponential Organizations

In the past few years, the business environment has seen a radical shift in the way organizations navigate the digital age. A new breed of company - the Exponential Organization (ExO) - are using information technologies to rapidly scale and accelerate growth. ExOs have dispensed with the linear and incremental approach to business strategy and rely on tools like crowdsourcing and community, big data and algorithms, and decentralized organizational structures to achieve performance benchmarks ten times better than their peers. In this session, Aaron will leverage his background in technology and business strategy journalism to introduce a unique set of examples and case studies. He will also share the specific steps any company can take to immediately to prepare for this new digital age.

Living in Digital Worlds: The Planet-Spanning Impact of Social VR and the AR Cloud

Spatial computing technologies like virtual and augmented reality (AR/VR) have seen an impressive pace of development in recent years.Today, developers are building on virtual world concepts like Second Life by launching a new generation of fully immersive virtual worlds. These are major steps toward the future depicted in stories like Ready Player One.We’re also witnessing the early stages in the building of one of the most important assets in all of computing: the AR Cloud. Some analysts predict that in the next decade, the AR Cloud will be the most important and valuable piece of computing infrastructure in the world—more valuable than Google’s PageRank index or Facebook’s social graph. Development of the AR Cloud will empower developers, businesses, (and you) -- to layer digital AR content on top of the “real” world.In this session, you will learn what the AR Cloud is, identify opportunities within social VR, and explore the ways that digital realities, both layered on our real world and captured inside fully immersive ones, will transform our relationship to the use of physical space and reshape how we live, shop, work, and play.