Neil Jacobstein

Singularity Chair: Artificial Intelligence & Robotics

Neil Jacobstein is the Chair of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Track at Singularity University. He is a founding Singularity Expert, and past President of Singularity. Jacobstein is a MediaX Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, where his work since 2007 focuses on augmented decision systems. He is actively involved in applying AI to practical business problems. He was CEO of Teknowledge Corp, a pioneering AI company that did successful AI application work but was too early for the mass adoption we see today. Neil has practical and strategic AI/ML system building and technical R&D consulting experience with a long list of industrial and governmental partners, including: Deloitte, E&Y, PWC, Boeing, GM, Ford, BMW, GE, Applied Materials, Texas Medical Center, NASA, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Science Foundation, NIH, EPA, DOE, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, GM, Ford, Boeing, Applied Materials, Xero, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and more.

He reviews technical papers for several AI application conferences. Jacobstein is a Venture Partner at Bold Capital Partners. He was appointed by the US National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to the Earth and Life Studies Committee for the period 2015-2021. He was appointed in 2020 to the Academy's top Strategic Planning Committee that delivered its report in 2021. Neil is a Technical Infrastructure Leader on the XPRIZE COVID Pandemic Alliance. He was appointed in 2016 to the Founding Editorial Board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Science Robotics journal (now ranked #1) and he continues to serve there. Jacobstein is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, and a founder and Board Director of the Aspen Institute in New Zealand. He has created and moderated many Aspen Institute seminars in the US and New Zealand on the technical and ethical implications of advanced technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, Decision Making in a Time of Crisis, and Climate Challenges: Systems thinking and Values Based Leadership. In June 2020 Neil was appointed by the Queenstown New Zealand Mayor to the Advisory Group for Regeneration and Recovery.

 He is actively consulting for several corporate AI development projects. Jacobstein is deeply interdisciplinary and has a keen sense of the significance of integrating art and science. He has a combination of good business judgment and technical vision about how to get results from exponential technologies. Jacobstein has given invited talks worldwide on the technical, business, and ethical implications of AI, robotics, and atomically precise manufacturing. He continues to serve in a wide variety of consulting and board advisory roles for industry, startup, nonprofit, and government organizations.

Machine Learning | Exponential Manufacturing

Foundation In Exponentials - AI | Global Summit 2018 | Singularity University

The Future of AI | Singularity Hub | Exponential Manufacturing

SU Global Summit 2019 | AI and Machine Learning Implications

Speaking Topics

AI and Robotics -- from a Robotics perspective

  • A tsunami wave of invention is occurring in robotics, enabled by inexpensive sensors and control systems. Robots have moved out of traditional industrial manufacturing, assembly, and painting jobs, and into hospitals, roads, aerial vehicles, small businesses, and the home. Robots can already see, hear, feel, smell, touch, manipulate objects, walk, run, jump, dance, talk and do both macroscale and nanoscale work. However, they don’t yet have a deep understanding of natural language or emotion. They don’t exhibit human level intelligence, but can demonstrate complex skills, such as the ability to drive in city and highway traffic, do some kinds of surgery, play soccer, and do security surveillance.
    How are robots used today in everyday life? When will robots as personal assistants and household servants become mainstream? What are the ultimate roles for robots? Will there be a day when humans will not have to do unwanted labor, and everyone has a robot companion that responds to their needs? What are the positive and negative aspects of these developments?
  • Neil uses examples of today’s robots along with concepts of more advanced robots in development to discusses these topics from the perspective of accelerating technology and the impact of the robot revolution on occupations and society.

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics: Research Business Applications and Ethics

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is not just a future possibility, it is here now, and in use all around us. This talk covers what AI is; current research results in AI; AI applications and businesses; future directions of the technology; and its business, technical, and ethical implications. Neil provides the rationale and technology context for augmenting our brains and other systems with artificial intelligence. He explains what augmentation is, why it matters, and where it is headed. AI and augmentation are not just future possibilities. Neil provides many excellent examples of artificial intelligence and augmentation applications in action – embedded in the fabric of our everyday lives. Neil shares his expertise and passion for augmentation and AI, and how it can be used with other exponential technologies to solve global grand challenges. Finally, the talk addresses the mathematical, ecological, and ethical literacy necessary as a foundation to use this powerful technology responsibly.

Breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

  • Explore how artificial intelligence and robotics are advancing exponentially as increasing computing power, sensors and web scale data allow smart machines to be mobile and more intelligent. This talk discusses the major developments in artificial intelligence and robotics, including robots in manufacturing, robotic surgery, autonomous vehicles, drones, personal robot assistants, and revolutionary biotech automation. It includes the major opportunities and implications for a wide variety of industries and entrepreneurial startups. The talk also addresses how new breakthroughs and innovations in automation are expected to transform the generation and distribution of wealth and jobs over the coming years.

Exponentials on Trial

  • All technologies have positive and negative ethical implications. Participants are presented with real-world scenarios involving exponential technologies they have learned about during the week. Taking the roles of “prosecution” and “defense”, participants analyze the scenarios and present their cases framing the crime, who is responsible, what outcomes they recommend to the Court of Singularity University, and what long term recommendations they have for specific changes to the legal system.

Implications of AI & Robotics Workshop

  • Dive into some of the deeper technical, business, and ethical questions behind the AI & Robotics revolution. Where are these technologies going, and what are their business, technical, and ethical implications? Who is at fault if a robot goes off program and commits a crime? Should companies be held accountable if an AI takes actions on the web that result in harm? Can an AI ever become conscious? Questions like these and more will form the core of this participant driven discussion.

Nanotechnology: Programming Bits and Molecules

  • Nanotechnology is more than just exploiting the extraordinary properties of materials at scales under 100 nanometers or billionths of a meter. The larger opportunity is atomically precise manufacturing, and scalable molecular robotics, which is technically feasible, but still a future prospect. This talk describes visually and clearly the technical foundations for programming molecular robotics and atomically precise manufacturing. It gives many examples of the precursor devices which have already been demonstrated in the laboratory. Neil is extremely articulate about the future prospects for nanotechnology. He predicts that “Nanotechnology will alter our relationship with molecules and matter like the computer altered our relationship with bits and information. Specifically, it will enable the inexpensive and ubiquitous control of molecules and matter.” Neil discusses the technical, business, environmental, and ethical implications of nanotechnology in ways that are engaging to technical people, and accessible to people who are beginners in science and technology.