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3D Printing, Singularity and ‘Living in the Cloud’: An Evening with Russell Buckley

Talk in the FIG office turned a little more philosophical last week as founder and ex-MD of the now Google-owned AdMob, Russell Buckley, came along to FIG HQ for the evening.

The tech entrepreneur sold AdMob to Google for $750million in June 2010 and now runs an early-stage venture fund but still finds time to blog and hang out at the ‘Singularity University’ with American author and futurist Raymond Kurzweil.

Keen to find out more about FIG and our seed companies, Buckley happily agreed to come along and speak to us.

The session began with the mobile advertising veteran delivering a short slide presentation, entitled My View of the World, about his predictions on how technology will impact the way we live in the coming decades.

Centering on exponential technological growth, Buckley stressed the importance of understanding future trends now.

“The message is that technology advancements can seem slow, especially in the beginning. But this hides massive growth,” he said.

“People get hung up on speed but it always goes slowly in the beginning.”

He predicted that 3D printing, translation and vastly improved health monitoring would take off in the coming years whereas MP3 players, landlines and handheld video and gaming products would be “decimated”.

The talk also incorporated Buckley’s thoughts on the theory of Singularity.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Singularity (and no surprise if you’re not) it refers to ‘the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means’ or, in layman’s terms, computers taking over the world.

He explained that the theory of Singularity had long been an interest of his and cited Kurzweil among others in the idea that by 2045 human beings could merge with technology and evolve to a kind of post-human state, living a Matrix-esq existence in the ‘cloud’.

Though it might sound like science fiction, Buckley spoke at length about how the fields of genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics are making advancements at a rate nearly in pace with common computing.

He highlighted that these “advances” are frequently undemocratic, decided only by a small cadre of scientists so the argument “they won’t let it happen” is largely irrelevant.

“Wider audiences aren’t consulted, including our elected representatives or we, the people, the ordinary citizens, whose lives are affected by such innovation,” he added.

“Whether you welcome these advancements or not and I don’t know exactly how I feel about it either, technology hasn’t yet caught up with our requirements and will become unimaginable in terms of how we think today.”

For those unfamiliar with the idea of Singularity, the talk raised some interesting ethical questions and highlighted some of the most radical ideas out there regarding the ways in which technology might change our future.

A big thanks to Russell Buckley for taking the time to come along and speak to us here at FIG.

If you want to know more about the entrepreneur check out his blog or follow him on Twitter.

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