University of Singularity and Crédit Agricole

Why Crédit Agricole is flirting with Google's University of Singularity

The University of the Singularity launched an innovation competition in mid-October, " Global Impact Competition The "Financial Technologies" programme is open to students of the Telecom ParisTech school and focuses on financial technologies (FinTech). Crédit Agricole and the consulting firm Keyrus are sponsors and members of the jury for this prize. The winning student will receive a $35,000 scholarship from the French Bank to attend the summer programme at the University of Singularity in Silicon Valley. There is nothing extraordinary in this information except that the University of the Singularity, financed for the most part by Google, was created by Ray Kurzweil, the pope of transhumanism. So what is Crédit Agricole going to do in this universe that smells like sulphur?
En this side of the Atlantic, the Singularity University was founded by two iconic Californian high-tech personalities, Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil.
Singularity and transhumanism
The first made his name with the X-Prize Foundation, a non-profit organization that regularly launches richly endowed challenges to " make the impossible possible ".
Ray Kurzweil is more famous; a professor at MIT, holder of the prestigious American Technology Award, he is described as the ultimate brain machine by Forbes and as a true genius by The Wall Street Journal. He's not only a computer genius, he's also a successful futurologist, who popularized in a book published just ten years ago (" The Singularity is Near ") the idea of "singularity". This concept refers to the moment when computers will become smarter than humans. Having become one of the most influential theorists of transhumanism - a current of thought that advocates the overcoming of the human with the help of technology - Kurzweil announces that humans will become hybrid beings as of 2030, half alive, half robots. And this will happen thanks to the exponential progress of nanotechnologies (such as fleas transplanted into the human body) and artificial intelligence.
Raymond Kurzweil (left) and Peter Diamandis
Ray Kurzweil is also, since 2012, the " director of engineering "Google; and it was Google that funded the launch of the University of the Singularity. A new kind of university, since educational programmes are not accredited and vary according to the emergence of technologies and partnerships with companies. The mission displayed, without any complex, by this University? « Educating leaders ». To inspire them and give them the means to understand"... exponential technologies ». Samil Ismail, one of the founders of the SU, quoted by the Echoes explains this notion: "While human beings perceive the evolution of the world in a linear way, envisaging a limited progression, new technologies are characterized by exponential progressions. ». For Kurzweil, this progress applies to biotech (the cost of DNA sequencing has been divided by 1 million in ten years), telecommunications (the number of mobile phone subscribers has risen from less than 1 billion in 2000 to more than 6 billion in 2012) and, more broadly, to human progress as a whole. which has been accelerating exponentially for two centuries... ». On the basis of this postulate, Kurzweil does not refrain from making the most incredible predictions: " The computer of the future will be the size of a cell." or"Humans will merge with machines. "
Creed and propaganda
The credo of the University of Singularity is clearly stated: the convergence of technologies". exponential "is a good thing, because accelerating progress will address humanity's greatest challenges - whether they be food, the environment, security or poverty. Rob Nail, CEO of SU continues: « We live in a world where 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. We have everything we need to help them and to get to a world where energy and food will be abundant. ». However, this is on condition that humans, and first and foremost their rulers, do not stand in the way of technical progress, as European countries are doing with GMOs, for example. « We don't have the capacity to feed the world population without resorting to itsays Salim Ismail. We are not defending Monsanto, however, because their approach is dangerous and motivated solely by money. But the ban on GMOs is also dangerous because it is costing lives in Africa."
Singularity University is working hard to convince not only students and entrepreneurs, but also governments of the benefits of these technologies, even if some of them are frightening to many. « Governments are ill-equipped to understand exponential technologiessays Salim Ismail. They therefore tend to want to hinder their progress, which is of no use... ".
Even if it defends itself against it, the University of Singularity strongly resembles a propaganda tool for transhumanism and decomplexed NBIC technologies. It is not encumbered by ethical, political or social issues. What matters to it is to advance technological progress without hindrance.
A finger in the gear
So, when Crédit Agricole is largely financing the first operation in France for the University of Singularity, we have every right to wonder. Admittedly, the financing is minor compared to what is at stake. This is a $35,000 grant intended to reward a Telecom ParisTech student for an original project linked to Fintechs. The fact remains that a finger seems to be stuck in a singularly controversial gear.
Through this partnership, Crédit Agricole intends to access a new source of innovation monitoring for the training of these 5,000 IT specialists. The Université de la Singularité will enhance its Sqypark programme, which already offers IT department employees online courses (MOOC), access to conferences and innovation showrooms. « We need to look as far ahead as possible... "says to the Echoes Jean-Paul Mazoyer the Group Head of IT and Industry of Crédit Agricole SA. He ensures that the bank will retain its free will vis-à-vis its partner. « The work on exoskeletons and artificial intelligence interests us much more than transhumanism, which is not our subject. "he adds.
In a statementKeyrus, the technology strategy and management consulting firm, a co-partner in the operation, says that through this competition it is seeking to bring its brand closer to those of progressive start-ups that could emerge from this operation and be supported by the University of Singularity. « It brings a dynamic to innovation ", says Eric Cohen, Keyrus' CEO.
The "Global Impact Competition" is open to students of the Télécom ParisTech engineering school. It focuses on new developments within FinTech. The winner of the competition, who will be selected in December 2015, will be invited to participate in the 2016 Singularity University Graduate Studies Summer Program (GSP). Upon his return to France, the student will have the opportunity to develop his project with the support of the Singularity University alumni network.
Unsuccessful finalists will benefit from the support of mentors and coaches who will follow them in the development phase of their projects. The jury will be made up of several members of Singularity University, Crédit Agricole S.A., the financial sponsor of the competition, Keyrus and Télécom ParisTech, the university partner, as well as individuals from the innovation, entrepreneurship and institutional sectors.
The mission of the four partners will be to encourage and inspire the candidates in the development of new ideas that they can choose to capitalize on at the end of the competition.
Once again, hell is paved with good intentions.
Photo: Ray Kurzweil © Forbes

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