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Chile Pi: Singularity University intrigued by transcendental possibilities in the region

Editor’s Note:This post is 1 of 2. The 2nd post will provide our Singularity University transcription from our interview with Salim Ismail, Vivek Wadhwa and Andrew Hessel.

While Chile is often seen as the country at the end of the Earth, ironically, it is not where South America ends. If one were to travel here, they would see that it is actually where it truly begins.

This storied and enchanted land is filled with tremendous economic development opportunities, natural resources, spirited, unified and determined citizens, and a rising middle class that provides a growing and dynamic market to create, launch and test new ideas.

With a 106% mobile penetration and top ranking among countries worldwide in terms of social network adoption per capita makes Chile an extremely attractive market for development in the mobile and technology space. And it also lends the possibility to scale throughout other markets in Latin America and/or Asia.

The Latin American market is very “vibrant”, as there is a growing number of people who have a smartphone for the first time and even people who are having their first experience with a mobile device. Latin America is also a source of innovation of products and applications at lower cost. – Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO

Leveraging Chile’s ‘connected’ population, Techolab along with Movistar, recently launched a nationwide mobile apps contest.

Techolab’s official kickoff event, ‘Applicate’, was held on March 22, 2012 and they had the honor of co-hosting:

Salim Ismail
Chief Global (and first) CEO of Singularity (former Vice President Innovation at Yahoo)

Vivek Wadhwa
Vice President of Innovation at Singularity University (and known in Chile for his contribution to the creation of Startup Chile)

Andrew Hessel
A global pioneer in disruptive advances in biotechnology

Techolab Challenge


Co-sponsored by Movistar, Singularity University and Un Techo Para Chile, APPLICATE is the newest Techolab challenge (applications close 22 April 2012). The current contest is seeking Chilean based visionaries, developers and entrepreneurs to pitch ideas for social utility mobile applications that address issues such as managing queues in public places i.e. government offices, money transfer and shopping online to  help improve the quality of life for those living at the base of the economic pyramid (BoP).

Techolab Team & Singularity University Staff at Fundo San Jose, Chile

The Next Wonders of the World…

As poverty is a widespread challenge, not only in Latin America (where it affects nearly 2/3 of the population or approximately 360 million people) but across the world, this initiative garnered the attention and support of Singularity University (Silicon Valley, USA) which looks for trends and the potential intersection of disruptive technologies with exponential reach that could solve humanity’s grand challenges.

And what would be considered ‘grand’ to Singularity University???

They try to keep it simple – Look to build solutions for the world’s greatest challenges, where the lives of 1 billion people could be impacted!

In a word, Singularity University is ‘infinite‘.

Let’s go beyond the spectacles built in ‘Las Vegas’ and think of what could mankind really create given we had the access to ‘silly’ money, along with the world’s most creative people which included thought leaders from every discipline. This is essentially the framework of building a global community of infinite intelligence and culminates the work of Singularity University.

Start by thinking back 3,500 plus years when people built pyramids. These pyramids took generations to build and today people are still perpetually fascinated by them. Who the heck thought of that???…then built them. And how did they do it?

In many ways, Singularity University could be considered the place where our modern day wonders of the world will be born and evolved through subsequent generations.

Decoding the Matrix of Life

My favoritest co-founder ever and I recently had the tremendous honor and privilege to sit among a few of these visionary beings from Singularity University, including Chile’s own Julián Ugarte Fuentes (Singularity University Alumni and Director of Un Techo Para Chile’s Center for Social Innovation) and get a small peek into their world.

I must admit, it was quite intense to say the least. I felt like my life was paralleling the movie Requiem for a Dream, especially in the few moments when Vivek Wadwha yanked me out of my delusional and utopian world and reinserted me back into reality.

Never mind the details of the dialogue (let’s just say while I was in dragon slaying mode he accidentally seared my ass while he was coughing or something,  jeje). I firmly stood my ground and in ‘Trademark Shonika’ style, got in a few witty comeback lines before it was all said and done… At any rate, I eventually chilled out and my takeaway from him was that dreams and solutions will beget the same…

And it is precisely that belief that every new vision or solution will only generate more of the same that makes Singularity University as simple as it is complex.

Vivek Wadwha Presenting at Techolab Kickoff Event for Mobile Apps Challenge

Unleashing Infinite Intelligence

To put things in perspective, Salim Ismail,  first CEO of Singularity University, spoke of seeing everything (people, places and things) in terms of information (broken down to our simplest form we are all 1’s and 0’s).

In my generation we grew up hacking computers. In your generation you are hacking the internet. And in my son’s generation (who is now 5 months old), he will grow up hacking the family cat. – Salim Ismail,  first CEO of Singularity University

If you think that last statement about hacking the family cat is a little out there. You have not heard anything yet!

….Imagine planting a seed in the ground to grow a cell phone.

….Or  glow in the dark trees, thus eliminating the need for street lights.

….Or how about walking into a store and thinking you are in the mood to buy something and the person at the checkout knows this the moment you walk in the door and has it ready for purchase???

Not only might these things sound insanely crazy, people are actually researching these ideas and technologies and pushing them forward to the development process as I write this!!!


The Edge of Potential

So why oh why would these highly influential people travel to Chile?

It was certainly more than to make a presentation at a kick-off launch event and make some networking. They were here to further connect with the people and help scale and monetize the innovation talent coming out of this country and region.

On several occasions, they praised the receptiveness, flexibility and proactiveness of the Chilean Government, adding that the risks and investments they are making for and with the people to help build a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation can not be compared to other parts of the world they have traveled.

They also expressed their enthusiasm with the work of the various organizations here in Chile that are promoting entrepreneurship and innovation and are impressed with the talent and ideas that are coming out of this small but dynamic market.  So they definitely see the magic and possibilities to help in the creation of something very big, impactful and special here in Chile.

But good people, I want you to know that our good work for this good country is far from done. Yes, they can help bring ideas, resources and awareness here so that you can make whatever you dream. However, we have to at least meet them halfway.

In Silicon Valley they want to be like CHILE!

Chilenos, over recent months, you have opened your minds and your world to Carlos and I and showed us some of the things that you are creating which is definitely in line with what top developers and entrepreneurs are creating outside of Chile.

We are humbled by your work, your vision and your spirit as you are generating the AndesBeat. But remember, we are way down here at the edge of the world….so we need you to BANG LOUDER!!!

We have asked many things of you and you have not let us down. In fact, you have gone above and beyond the call of duty. But we know you have the capacity to do and achieve so much more.

So here’s our next challenge for you….Let’s squash this whole idea of building the next Facebook and wanting to be the next Silicon Valley.  Make it so that in Silicon Valley they want to be like you. Be the envy of the world and proud to have people in other countries trying to copy you.

Disrupting Chile

If you want to be truly on the bleeding edge of what’s happening in the world of innovation (and get Singularity University ready), you need to shift into Infinity Mode On.  Start reading and learning everything you can about optogenetics, synthetic biology, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and genetics engineering.

Regardless of what you are creating or what industry or profession you are currently involved in, I want you to look very hard into the future for potential places where these themes can intersect with what you are doing now. This is how innovation truly happens.

If you are already working in any of these areas and want to deepen your relationships in this area or if you need our support in getting the process started (or keeping it going), please do not hesitate to reach us at hello(at)andesbeat(dot)com.