Silicon Valley comes to Christchurch for conference

Kaila Colbin, chief organiser of TEDx Christchurch.

Kaila Colbin, chief organiser of TEDx Christchurch.

A conference about the radical impact of future technology featuring some of the world's most forward-thinking experts is coming to Christchurch.

The SingularityU summit will have its first event in Australasia in Christchurch later this year.

The summit is attached to Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think-tank focussing on future technology, led by futurists Ray Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis.

The group's purpose is to find ways to apply exponential technology – artificial intelligence, robotics, and nanotechnology, for example – to solve global problems.

Kaila Colbin is bringing the summit to Christchurch – she is the New Zealand ambassador for Singularity University and curator of TEDx Christchurch.

She became involved after attending a workshop hosted by the group in Los Angeles, and wanted to translate the experience to others.

"My thought process was, how can we make this as accessible to as many people as possible in New Zealand?" she said.

"Christchurch has this tremendous opportunity, because we are actively re-imagining and re-defining the city and the role we want to play. We have this incredible level of grassroots entrepreneurship here. In terms of where this conversation is housed, I'm delighted it's in Christchurch."

She said she was struck by how profoundly all people would be affected by the technology of the future, and wanted to convey that to a regular audience.

"This is not a tech conference; it's not for geeks. It's more a question of every aspect of the way we structured our society gets touched by this and will likely be radically changed. It will affect all of us."

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The summit is intended for all audiences, but tickets are a tenth of the regular price for people aged 25 and under, she said.

Speakers signed on so far include:

-Brad Templeton, who has worked on Google's self-driving car and is a director at the Foresight Nanotech Institute.

-Kathryn Myronuk, an expert on exponential technology who regularly speaks at global events.

-Raymond McCauley, a scientist working on biotechnology who helped develop next generation DNA sequencing.

-Marc Goodman, a best-selling author and founder of the Future Crimes Institute.

-Jason Silva, Emmy-nominated host of popular TV show Brain Games.

They will discuss topics including job automation, self-driving cars, nanotechnology, and the future of health, crime, work, and policy making.

The SingularityU summit will take place from November 14 to 16 at Horncastle Arena.

There will also be breakfast events (7.30am to 9am) for anyone interested in finding out more. These will be held at the EPIC lounge in Christchurch on Friday, June 10; The Bizdojo in Wellington on Tuesday, June 14; GridAKL in Auckland on Thursday, June 23.

Tickets can be bought at

 - Stuff


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