A day at Singularity University, where the future belongs to glowing plants and robotic elephants


Men and women in suits and sweatshirts mill about, speaking in a mash of languages. It’s midway through the week at the Singularity University executive program, a seven-day institute offered several times a year where, for $12,000 a ticket, participants get a crash course in fields like biotechnology, neuroscience and robotics.

“Burning Down the House” blares over the speakers, prompting everyone to settle into their chairs. Inventor and serial founder Saul Griffith takes the stage. He wears a beard, jeans tucked into boots and a shirt the color of an ice cream sundae. It’s difficult to tell if he’s about to chastise the room or give a speech. He announces that he hasn’t prepared anything, so he’s just going to give a tour of his desktop.

Singularity University Saul Griffith Saul Griffith presents a robotic arm sling. It has no hard parts, yet it can improve strength and bring control back to people who…

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