Speaker intro: Kris Verburgh

6 September 2016

In anticipation for the SingularityU NL Summit, we post an interview a day, each with one of the Summit speakers introducing us to their subject matter and the research area that they are so passionate about. This time we sat down with medical doctor and researcher Kris Verburgh:

So tell us, who’s Kris Verburgh?

I’m a medical doctor and researcher. As such I’m very interested in new developments in medicine. My specific interest goes to aging and preventive medicine.


Why did you decide to join the faculty and speak at the Summit?

Because I’m very interested in science and technology. The way that these fields are impacting our lives, are completely changing our lives, is fascinating. I also think that the idea behind SingularityU is very attractive, to use technology and science to improve the world and advance civilization. To me, that’s what being human is all about. How can we improve mankind? And how can we make it possible for everyone to live in prosperity in the world of tomorrow? I would like to leverage science and technology to answer these questions and improve the lives of billions of people instead of just the happy few. It would be great to be part of this new revolution that is coming towards us.

Personally I try to contribute in many different ways. I spread the knowledge that I have about science and technology. This means explaining to people what is going on in these fields and explaining how these developments will impact our lives. Of course I also give lectures and talks. I participate in conferences and write articles and books as well.


What are the most exciting developments in medicine right now?

I will talk about new developments in medicine and the paradigm shifts that will upend the field. There are new diagnostic methods that will improve our lives. We also have some exciting new treatments coming up. For thousands of years, doctors didn’t understand exactly what is going on in our bodies. Nowadays we know a lot more but cannot do a lot about it. Many diseases are still incurable. In the future this will change, I will lift the veil on some of these new therapies that will enable doctors to improve our health and cure disease.

Regarding the paradigm shifts in medicine: Personalized medicine is a big development. We also see that people start looking further than the genome and incorporate the epigenome and transcriptome in their thinking. The latest insights in health and longevity are really interesting as well. I will explain how these will transform not only our health and healthcare, but also our bodies, our brains and our lifespan! A lot of companies are already anticipating this new future that lies ahead of us. A future where we will use technologies to completely transform our lives, our bodies, our brains and our lifespans. A nice example would be Google, which created a company called Calico. They are researching how we can improve our lifespan to live longer and healthier lives.


Many people are worried about technological developments in our society. How do you feel about that?

There is some anxiety. I think it is very important to address this anxiety. We believe that the advantages of these technologies will be a lot bigger than the disadvantages. Perhaps we will see a future where we work much less. This could be future where A.I. takes over a lot of jobs and people hardly have to work anymore. The coming decades will completely change the way we do work, de way we do business and the way we retire. It is extremely important for society to be prepared for this. In my opinion, the anxiety is important to consider, but again, the advantages will outnumber the disadvantages by far.

A lot of people are worried about the condition the world is in. This could be because of war, famine or other problems. However, if you look at the past 200.000 years, we have never been so wealthy, so well-fed, so safe. We have never been better! Of course there is a lot of work still to be done. We need to create wealth, prosperity and safety for a lot of people, but again; we have never been healthier, wealthier or safer than ever before. We would like to bring this message across to the general public, but we also want to explain how we can further improve conditions in this world. It is clear that we are not there yet. I’m convinced that we can get there if we meet all the needs of the general populace. Needs like water, energy, food, safety, security, good education and so on. We will have succeeded when every person on our planet can attain a high quality of life. Our task is to explain how technology can help us get there. This is what the Summit is all about and what SingularityU The Netherlands stands for.

SingularityU The Netherlands is about using technology and science to improve the lives of billions of people to create prosperity for all people, not just for the chosen few. We want to move mankind from a world of scarcity to a world of abundance. We will present and research emerging technologies. Technologies ranging from A.I. and robotics but also healthcare and new ways of doing business and manufacturing. These technologies will bring us a world that is completely different from the one we are living in at the moment. People will be able to meet, not just the basic requirements of life, but also have a full life with a high standard of living.


What do you expect from the attendees at the Summit?

The SingularityU Summit is interesting for many different types of people. It is interesting for CEOs, but also medical doctors, researchers, managers, educators and so on. Because we will talk about the future, the world of tomorrow and the way that emerging technologies will shape that world. Robotics, A.I., manufacturing, health and cybersecurity are all areas where changes will greatly impact our world. Don’t forget that our society and the way we do business will change, even the ways that companies will be created. It is useful for all people to know where we are headed for, to prepare for the future.

The average attendee will already have some knowhow. We have amassed all kinds of experts at this Summit. They are the best in their fields and passionate about what they do. I’m very certain that we can further expand upon the knowledge of the attendees and show what’s going on in many different fields. Ranging from A.I. and robotics to biotech, manufacturing and the way we will do business.

At the moment we are at a crossroads. We have been talking about A.I. for decades. Suddenly, for several reasons, a lot of big strides have been made in the last few years. This field will be booming! Other technologies will see a similar pattern, we’ve been talking about them for years, but now we are finally seeing it happen. We are living in exceptional times, the time of the fourth industrial revolution, where we can use these technologies to achieve tangible results. Instead of just talking about robots, we see advanced robots before us.  It is truly fascinating: We’ve extended lives of lab animals tenfold, the newest robots can work quite independent and new A.I. programs can write original books. These technologies are finally tangible. That is what we would like to show at the Summit!