Astronaut Dan Barry: Don’t Let Anyone Tell You That You Can’t Reach Your Dreams

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Posted on: September 20, 2011 / Last Modified: December 1, 2021

During my 10 weeks at Singularity University, I was able to ambush Dan Barry for a 20 min interview for Singularity 1 on 1.

Former NASA astronaut and veteran of 3 space missions, Dan is currently the head of faculty at Singularity University and the co-chair for AI, Robotics, Space, and Physical Sciences.

(As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.)

For me Dan Barry was an inspiration from the very beginning of the program: His inaugural lecture, Failure is an Option, during which he shared both his wife’s moving story (documented in her best-selling book Fixing My Gaze) and his own life’s story (with his 13 unsuccessful attempts to become an astronaut), not only moved me deeply but also taught me that nothing is impossible and that one should never give up one’s dreams.

During our conversation with Dan we discuss issues such as his personal background and early childhood dream to become an astronaut; his motivation, goals, and aspirations for Singularity University; his personal 10^9 project (aimed at positively impacting the lives of a billion people within 10 years); Artificial Intelligence in general and the process of arming AI in particular; the Turing Test and Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robotics; his take on the technological singularity and our chances of surviving it.

I would like to thank Singularity University for allowing me to use their campus and especially Matt Rutherford for his crucial support in filming. (Hey Matt, thank you so much for all your help but I am afraid that my poor editing skills don’t do justice to the quality of your film footage!)

As always you can listen to or download the audio file above or scroll down and watch the video interview in full. To show your support you can write a review on iTunesmake a direct donation, or become a patron on Patreon.


Who is Dan Barry?

Astronaut Daniel Thomas Barry

President and Founder, Denbar Robotics, Dan is a former NASA astronaut and a veteran of three space flights, four spacewalks, and two trips to the International Space Station. He retired from NASA in 2005 and started his own company, Denbar Robotics that creates robotic assistants for home and commercial use, concentrating on assistive devices for people with disabilities.

Dan has received numerous honors. A few of them are the following: 2000 and 2002 NASA Exceptional Service Medals, 2001 Top 10 in the world career spacewalk hours, 100 Most Notable Princeton Graduate School Alumni of the 20th Century, Harvard Medical School Paul J. Corcoran Award and honorary doctoral degrees from Beloit College and St. Louis University. Dan is also a frequent speaker and has given keynote addresses to audiences throughout the world.

Dan’s educational background includes a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University in 1975; a master of engineering degree and a master of arts degree in electrical engineering/computer science from Princeton University in 1977; a doctorate in electrical engineering/computer science from Princeton University in 1980; and a doctorate in medicine from the University of Miami in 1982. He has seven patents, over 50 articles in scientific journals, and has served on two scientific journal editorial boards. He has film and television experience as well, including roles in two documentary films and as a cast member in season 12 of CBS Survivor.

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