Nell Watson

Associate Faculty AI & Robotics, Singularity University

Nell Watson FRSA FIAP is an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist thinker who grew up in Northern Ireland. She has a longstanding interest in the philosophy of technology, and how extensions of human capacity drive emerging social trends.


Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Technology Philosophy.

City, Country
Gent, Belgium
Born in Northern Ireland, currently based in Belgium.


Current Work

Based in Ghent, Belgium six people are working on a convenient, disruptive solution to an old and complex problem. Coming from various professional backgrounds, it was coincidence that brought us together. Six people who believe they can make a difference through technology. Our passion for entrepreneurship and technology have motivated us to take on this opportunity, QuantaCorp. QuantaCorp was founded in April 2015. Nell, Wim and Alexander, all co-founders, immediately started to expand the team in order to be able to bring their measurement service to the market.

OpenEth is a non-profit machine ethics research company. We have a vision of building a safer and more just world, by enabling humans and machines to make better decisions. Our goal is to advance the field of machine ethics, by seeding a framework for analysis of various ethical situations, in a way that can be easily understood by both humans and machines. We seek new ways of expressing ethics computationally, by building on the latest and best available research. Creating a computable framework of ethics is an extremely challenging and daring endeavour, but one with the potential to change the path of global society. Both the code driving this project, and the ethical framework itself are open, and we encourage active contributions on both.

Singularity University
Singularity University is a benefit corporation that provides educational programs, innovative partnerships and a startup accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilize these technologies to positively impact billions of people.

“Nell Watson FRSA FIAP is an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist thinker who grew up in Northern Ireland. She has a longstanding interest in the philosophy of technology, and how extensions of human capacity drive emerging social trends.

Nell has had an unusual career, including teaching post-grad Computer Science at the age of 24, and later co-founding a successful Graffiti arts company. Her ability to bridge the world of technology and the Humanities makes it easy for her to translate complex subjects so that they can be clearly understood.

In 2010 Nell founded Poikos, a machine learning-driven ‘AI for for body measurement’. Nell’s patented technology ‘dematerialises’ the 3D body scanner, by providing accurate 3D scans of the body with only 2D camera hardware, such as that found within smartphones, or laptops. This may then be applied to a range of markets, such as mass customisation, and health.

Possessing a long-term mindset, Nell serves as Senior Advisor to The Future Society at Harvard, as well as serving as an advisory technologist to several startups, accelerators, and venture capital funds.

She is also Co-Founder of, an ‘ethical explication engine’ that aims to crowdsource ethical heuristics for autonomous systems.

In her spare time Nell enjoys coding games, such as her startup life simulator, Founder Life. Founder Life attempts to teach the mindfulness and psychological habits necessary for entrepreneurs to consistently execute under pressure.

She has also written two easily digestible books on philosophy – one for business leaders, and one aimed at children.

Nell lectures globally on Machine Intelligence, AI philosophy, Human-Machine relations, and the Future of Human Society, serving as Associate Faculty of AI & Robotics at Singularity University.”

Awards and Honors
• Scholarship Singularity University 2013 ($30k monetary value)
• Pioneers Challenge Vienna (€30k monetary value)
• Scholarship BlackBox Connect 2013 ($8k monetary value)
• SIDN Technology Pioniers Fond (€10k monetary value)
• 42 under 42
• Amazon Web Services Challenge Audience Favorite
• Digital Champions Competition 2013
• Warwick Big Idea Competition
• Under 30 CEO
• IBM SmartCamp Europe 2012
• The Next Women Prize (1st)
• Intuit 100UP
• Shell Livewire
• SMART Proof of Market Grant
• 50 Makers & Shakers of Education Technology

Professional Accomplishments
• Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)
• Fellow of the MIT Global Startup Workshop
• Fellow of the Institution of Analysts and Programmers.
• Founder & Council Member of the International Society of Digital Medicine (Headquarted in Nanjing, China)
• Senior Advisor to the Harvard Kennedy School’s Future Society AI Initiative
• Member of the IEEE GIECDAS Committee on safer autonomous systems
• Venture Partner at Onevest 1000 Angels
• Editorial Board Member of The Journal of Digital Medicine

Professional Memberships
• Mensa (since 1990)
• The Mars Society
• Humanity+
• The Long Now Foundation
• The Society for Participatory Medicine
• The Founders Forum for Good

• Backstage Ventures (For LGBT, POC and Women)
• Effective Altruism Ventures
• Graviky Labs, a spinoff from MIT Media Lab
• Solve for X at Alphabet

How do you educate and support entrepreneurs?
I am a tech entrepreneur of some experience. I devote at least 30% of my time providing pro-bono supportto emerging engineers and entrepreneurs working on world-changing ventures.

Where do you educate and support entrepreneurs?
Founder Life is a life simulation game that teaches practical and theoretical entrepreneurial skills through simulated activities, being as close to real life as reasonably possible. It teaches the discipline required to successfully execute on the early stages of a startup, involving customer discovery, self-knowledge, and effective habits. The game incorporates a side narrative that allows the player to explore many startup quandaries and dilemmas taken from real life experience.

The Founder Virtue examines the internal and external forces that lead a certain percentage of the population to choose entrepreneurial activities, whereas others are content to live in comfort, but without taking personal command of their industry.

The target audience is mostly young entrepreneurs, or people who might consider choosing to take an entrepreneurial lifestyle as a vehicle for personal and societal improvement.

The book is in two sections, the first provides an analysis of the special role of a founder/entrepreneur in our society, whereas the second discusses particular drives and attitudes that influence entrepreneurs as they work their vocational craft to fight for – and achieve – what seems impossible.

Why did you want to become a GCASE Fellow? What do you have to share to other educators, supporters, and mentors around the world?
I believe passionately in the power of entrepreneurship as a force for good in this world. I wish to join forces with GCASE in order to help achieve a better tomorrow. Thank you.

Speaker/Talent Agency

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