The enclosure of innovation and intellectual property by the Singularity University

A word of warning to naive students, by Wired magazine:

“As it draws up plans to become a for-profit corporation, Singularity University has significantly tightened the terms under which its students may use the intellectual property they develop in their courses. When it was created four years ago with support from neighboring Google and Google’s co-founder Larry Page, the prestigious but non-accredited institution was all about teaching “exponentially advancing technologies” as a supplement to a traditional education. Now Singularity U. apparently believes it can best promote those technologies and address humanity’s biggest problems by better controlling and assisting student startups, reading between the lines of new contracts students are being asked to sign… “It’s becoming a company all the way,” says one recent summer-program graduate. “It’s been a big shift. … If you asked me now, ‘Would you like to come to SU?’ I would say ‘Yes, for the first five weeks,’ because they gather an incredible group of people. But the last 10 weeks is about working on a company SU is going to own. … And they can take it out of your hands forever.” According to the university, the issue isn’t so much control but resolving conflicts before they start…. The university’s overseers see commercialization as key to their mission and are searching for ways to trade Singularity U.’s nonprofit structure for a new status as a profit-making California benefit corporation… Its new intellectual property restrictions pave the way for that type of aggressive commercialization… Some faculty, including serial startup founder David Orban, think seizing more control of its intellectual property will help the university more rapidly and effectively respond to technological progress and social change… At the same time, it seems odd that a charitable education institution is acting to restrict the flow of knowledge, particularly when its stated mission is to impart such knowledge and to “inspire a new generation of leaders.”

1 Comment The enclosure of innovation and intellectual property by the Singularity University

  1. AvatarTodd S.

    Given their stated intent of teaching “exponentially advancing technologies” I’d say this was inevitable, if not outright intended. They aren’t teaching how to be innovative, they’re teaching how to utilize (leverage!) existing technologies, and let’s face it, most of what is considered “advancing technology” is made solely for commercial profit in the first place, not to fill any human need.

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