September 23, 2011
Parag Khanna on How to Run the World by Turning it on its Head (From the Bottom Up)
In his Idea Festival talk, Parag Khanna addressed the shifts we're seeing around the world. He thinks what is happening in the Arab world is the beginning of what we're going to see elsewhere.
Almost all Arab countries are post colonial countries. He says, "most of the 200 countries in the world look a lot like the Arab countries falling apart in the last six months."
And, asserts Khanna, “we’re in for a decade of this at least and watch this unfold for a very long time. At least 80 or 90 countries are experiencing the same kind of decay that a lot of the Arab countries are today. Expect to see a lot more falling regimes.”
We have to not just focus on economic and political issues in a silo. Things are complex so rather than look at how the UN is defining global progress, look at how private enterprise can assist as well. For example, what happens at the Clinton Global Initiative is very different than what happens in the UN, since it is much more representative and accurate of who has the real power.
It includes CEOs, entrepreneurs as well as politicians. This translates into offers from companies who can help facilitate change at a global level. For example, a mining company pledged to support a workforce in a South American country. We should be looking at ways to improve the ways we can measure real change in people’s lives.
The power has shifted when you have cities and mayors who are key in climate change decisions, the fact that that the Gates Foundation commits as much money as most governments do and that Walmart has more gas emissions coming out of their buildings than the country of Ireland.
Diplomacy is the glue at which we urn the world – it’s the relationships, the alliances, the solutions. It's the most important thing that we do and don't even realize it. Khanna notes that we live in a world today where there’s more diplomacy than ever before and yet it’s less organized.
How do we sort out the moss pit of what exists with political leaders today? He recommends the following principles:
- Diplomacy needs to be inclusive. Anyone who wants to be part of a resolution to a problem should be involved.
- Decentralization – solving problems at the source. People in developing countries with real problems don’t need policy papers or money that is stored in centralized funds somewhere in Paris. It’s much better to give money to people directly if you can through micro-finance through organizations like Kiva.
- Become our own diplomats: each of us needs to think of ourselves as diplomats. Within ten years, everyone on the planet will have a mobile phone or a phone within their immediate family. Everyone will be able to reach everyone else. A lot of these phones will be smart phones and will have telebanking and mobile banking baked in….the latter is growing incredibly fast in Africa.
He ends his talk by saying “the best global governance is local governance," and working from the bottom up, not the top down.
Is the Universe Everything There Is? On 20th Century Science in Many Worlds
The Idea Festival, based in Louisville, Kentucky kicked off officially on Wednesday, September 21 at the Kentucky Performing Arts Center, located on a main drag of Louisville which is littered with art galleries, hotels and a restaurants.
Speaker Suketu Bhavsar decided to take the audience to the fourth dimension and show us simplistically (if that's possible with a topic like this), what the impact of an infinite universe really is.
Albeit a scientist, Bhavsar has a unique right brain charisma on stage and often threw in humor as a way to lighten his somewhat heavy talk. "If the universe is everything there is, what is there to talk about?" he asks the audience. "Time, but time is relative," reminds Bhavsar. "And, space is relative."He shows us a few examples demonstrating how space has geometry that depends upon the density of the universe.
The whole universe is full of galaxies mostly with empty space in between and every one of these galaxies is moving away from us. The space in between those galaxies is actually what’s expanding. Space is stretching out between galaxies all the time.
The geometry of our universe is flat and this means that our universe is endless and it’s infinite. An infinite universe leads to the first and simplest kind of multiverse, he suggests. If we go far enough, then there could and would be another you elsewhere. In other words, everything is possible in an infinite universe.
He asks, “how far until there is a copy of the visible universe?” and refers to Brian Greene’s name for it: Quilted Multiverse.
In the early universe, the quantum field of the rapidly expanding space drops to a lower value in random regions. These regions are bubble universes.
Regarding these bubbles and how they relate to each other:
- Each of these bubbles will continue to expand and have an infinite spatial galaxy.
- Each bubble universe has the potential to create daughter universes that inflate and become independent universes creating even more universes.
Another possibility is that not all the dimensions are curled up. In the Braneworld scenario, ours and many other 3-brane universes could be residing alongside each other and we wouldn’t know about it.
This moves us into Quantum mechanics, which is not deterministic like Newtonian mechanics he says. Quantum mechanics means that there are many arrays of things that could happen, allowing for many outcomes. AND, many things happening in multiple universes all at the same time.
Bhavsar challenges us to also read another book by Brian Greene: The Elegant Universe, and to contemplate the following questions:
Is this science? What is consciousness? What is time? Can we ever truly understand time? What is reality?
September 08, 2011
SOcial, LOcal, MObile, the Power Behind LeWeb's 2011 Start-Up Competition
SOcial, LOcal, MObile is the new black for startups this fall say the Guidewire Group who are powering this year's LeWeb'11 Startup Competition, centered on the SoLoMo theme (that's social, local, mobile, for the non-geeks who haven't memorized yet another acronym).
The annual showcase of emerging companies will honor the Top 3 startups creating state-of-the-art apps for the SoLoMo consumer or business markets. They are looking for the most exciting and innovative ideas that exploit the power of social engagement and location awareness of tablet and mobile phone devices. To be eligible, startups need to have less than €1M of investment.
Applicants will use Guidewire Group's forthcoming G/SCORE Analytics platform to profile and take a G/SCORE assessments. Those assessments, along with Guidewire Group analyst and community input, will be select 16 finalists to pitch for a spot among the Top 3 at the december conference in Paris.
To learn more about the competition, visit LeWeb's start-up competition page.
September 8, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Europe, Events, On Geo-Location, On Innovation, On Mobile & Wireless, On Search, On Social CRM, On Technology, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
September 07, 2011
SOCAP 2011 Co-Founder Kevin Jones Zooms in on Razer Scooter
Co-Founder of SOCAP, Kevin Jones who tries out a Razor (mine!) for the first time, kicks off the annual event.
Nominations Open For Tech4Africa Innovation Award Till Sept 12
Tech4Africa is calling for entries to their inaugural Tech4Africa Innovation Award. Designed to recognize homegrown innovation and further inspire the industry to develop global solutions to uniquely African challenges, the award is open to both individuals and companies.
The process has been broken down to its bare bones in a bid to make applying as simple and cost-effective as possible. Individuals or companies need to send a single-page synopsis of their product or service, what the innovation is and the level of success or traction that it has attained.
The only qualifying criteria are that the innovation must have been in the market for at least one and a half years and have been created by Africans to solve uniquely African challenges. Participants are welcome to nominate themselves or suggest a deserving recipient.
Entries for the Tech4Africa Innovation Award close on September 12, 2011, following which a list of 10 finalists will be drawn up. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony to be held the night of October 26, 2011, as a curtain raiser for the two-day conference that starts the following day.
Some of the industry’s leading minds gathered for two days to participate in presentations by and discussions with international speakers on the state of web and emerging technology on the continent.
The 2011 edition of Tech4Africa will be hosted at The Forum in Bryanston, Johannesburg from October 27 to 28, 2011. Registration for the conference is open, with full details on the website.
* Photo by whiteafrican (Creative Commons)
Idea Festival: New Ideas Create the Future
We're planning to go to Idea Festival this year as a media partner which is exciting on multiple levels. The whole premise of the event is that "new ideas create the future."
Much of the mesmerizing innovation that we are witnessing in the 21st century emerges at and from the intersections of many disciplines – science, the arts, business, design, technology, education, medicine and more. The IdeaFestival provides the opportunity for people across all of these disciplines to group together in a unique “space” for the convergence of ideas.
Now in its eleventh year, the IdeaFestival will be held in Louisville Kentucky from September 21-24, 2011. The event is a unique non-linear event designed to stretch people's horizon's and promote breakthrough thinking... utilizing multiple venues to showcase, discuss and "connect" important ideas in science, the arts, design, business, film, technology, education, etc.
More from the ground, but to give you a taste of the line-up and speakers so far, take a look at their schedule.
September 7, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
June 30, 2011
Xerox's Ursula Burns and Forrester's George Colony on Innovation & Leadership
For those who are unfamiliar with the name Ursula Burns, she's a woman with a fascinating story. She started as a mechanical engineering intern in 1980 with Xerox Corporation and nearly 30 years later after leading several business teams, and acting as senior VP and President, is now Xerox's Chairman and CEO.
Sure, she is the first African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company and also the first woman to succeed another woman as head of a Fortune 500 company (another remarkable story), but "who" she is and her very direct personality, candor and warmth as a CEO is what makes her so special, not this historical fact alone.
In many ways, she is not the "traditional CEO stereotype" or personality if there is such a thing. What comes through in watching her on-stage, from afar, from her profiles in the media and from meeting her in person, is her authenticity, her passion, her human way of approaching complex problems and her acute insights into what to do when things go south.
In a fireside chat with Forrester's CEO George Colony at the Churchill Club in Palo Alto this week, she was spot on when she spoke of leadership and what it takes to be successful. "When you screw up, fix problems and fix them fast," she said. "You have to be fearless, make decisions and understand the difference between urgent and important." And, oh yeah, she adds, "you have to be nice."
When George responded with, "what about Ellison and Jobs?" two renowned leaders in the world of technology who are not known as "playing by the nice" rules (the very two examples I was thinking when she made the statement), she said "I don't care." Go Ursula! Among other examples, she brought up her attitude about honor and respect and how her kids would only address George as Mr. Colony not George.
Ursula says that she spends about 50% of her time making sure people are "tuned" correctly. A consistent message from the best leaders is hiring well and inspiring those hires to execute strategically and consistently. Having a motivated and aligned team around you is key.
That brings us to innovation, where you can't avoid but bringing up Apple. Says George of Jobs, "Jobs is once every 100 years. He's an Edison. It's not just about the fact that Apple knows how to innovate, but more importantly, how to streamline and simplify - taking the obvious and making it simple."
George spoke of Forrester's innovation network. In the value chain, there are different roles...you could look at Forrester as a broker, Apple as a transformer. Both are instrumental and key in the process. If the transformer happens to be outside the organization, then so be it and P&G has demonstrated that through in their own products and design efforts. The Innovation Network says we must 'expand the network.'
Ursula agrees with the outsourcing model and that to try and be and do everything internally is very limiting. She says, "there's more value on going outside the network for things you don't do really well. The value chain of research has fundamentally changed. Partner or parish is the reality in the research world today."
Access is what it's about and you can get better ideas and people by partnering. She has a lot of respect for failing she noted, but added that she meant for her research team, not her engineers.
George shared his thoughts on cloud computing: "If you think it's all about the cloud, you're wrong citing the App-Internet is where things are heading. He has teams dedicated to this area, where they're looking at the future of how powerful devices will work more seamlessly with powerful apps and what this will mean for productivity and innovation across multiple industries.
On future predictions, Ursula adds, "the big transformation in the future is not access. We have access to whatever we want and a lot of it." Her fear is that we have so much access yet may not necessarily understand or know what we're looking for. The real miracle will be in how we interface with all that data, a problem many of Silicon Valley's developers are trying to solve in some way or another.
I see an emphasis on interface & manipulation of data again and again with the kinds of things that start-ups who pitch me on a regular basis are working on. Sadly, I also see a lot of start-ups working on services that focus more on access and data rather than solving the curation problem. (see Steven Rosenbaum's new book Curation Nation).
Below is a four part video that covers George and Ursula's Churchill fireside chat, one which felt remarkably like an informal living room discussion. The authenticity and insights to probe deeper into real world problems, not just business ones, also came out as they discussed education and the energy crisis.
June 02, 2011
Meet Steamboat Ed's Aetheric Musical Machine: Calliope #5Below is a little history and the story behind Steamboat Ed and his Aetheric Musical Machine. Ed and friends were at the annual Maker Faire in May. Instruments emitting fire are not new adn have been made for over a century. They are, however, uncommon. Calliope #4 is a Pyrophone since it's not intended for team, but for air or propane. With propane, the whistles emit FIRE, when tooting, hence the "pyrophone.' His whistles are Helmholz resonators, chosen because he discovered an excellent tutorial describing them. His whistles are activated with solenoid valves that he found on eBay. More in the short video below.
Here are some photos of his work in action.
June 01, 2011
Maker Faire 2011 Video Recap in Two PartsBelow is some video that I shot at this year's Maker Faire held in mid-May, broken down into Part I and Part II.
May 17, 2011
FutureMed: Healthcare & Medicine Migrate From Linear Growth to Exponential Growth
I just finished attending a mind blowing event called FutureMed, the medical arm if you like, of Singularity University, which was founded by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil. Director, curator and chair of the program is Daniel Kraft, who together with a dedicated team, brought in some of the smartest creators and thinkers in medicine and healthcare for the 5 day long program.
Ask yourself: what is the impact that exponential technologies will have on medicine and healthcare? What was your initial response? Whether you're a scientist, physician, venture capitalist or biomed executive, the answers are profound because of the fast rate technology is developing, improving and having a direct impact on the "well-being" of our lives.
What's unique about the event is not just the content, which is deep and thought provoking and brings in insights from the top in their fields, but the structure of the event itself. Imagine a combination of panels, lectures and field trips with demos, workshops and breakout sessions all under one roof with only 70 or so attendees.
In other words, the intimacy of the event creates an environment where not only do you have an opportunity to have your answers questioned (and challenged) directly, but you have quality time with the speakers and technology creators, so you can more effectively understand what lies ahead -- and then act upon it. It also means that attendees are vetted, so not only is the speaker line-up phenomenal, but the attendees themselves have a host of honors, accolades and accomplishments, all of which result in an environment where the brightest minds can come together to learn, create and grow. A community is formed in which like-minds in medicine and healthcare can accomplish more together than they can alone in their respective fields. (Below is Peter Diamandis and Daniel Kraft in the first session of Day One).
Challenging the status quo is never easy but if through a combination of persistence, trial and error and really smart, caring and passionate thinkers who want to make a difference, things can change, particularly as you begin to see validation after validation for your thinking (and actions) along the way. In other words, linear thinking "be gone."
As CNET described the environment for participants, "For attendees, who range from executives in the medical field to practicing doctors to entrepreneurs looking for the next area to invest in, and who come from countries all over the world, FutureMed gives access to talks on topics as diverse as personalized medicine; the future of pharma; patient engagement; regenerative medicine; neuromedicine; synthetic biology; the future of medical education; global health and the hospital of the future; and more."
Ray Kurzweil and XPrize founder Peter Diamandis kicked things off with the notion that advances in healthcare and medicine have migrated from linear growth to exponential growth. As recapped so well in the MedGadget summary which you'll find me referencing a number of times because their coverage of the event was so extensive: "One fascinating insight from Ray’s talk was that these exponentially growing advances are often the combination of many different paradigms that grow and develop in a sigmoidal fashion. The exponential growth of computational power per dollar, for instance, is driven by say, vaccum tubes, which start slow, progress extremely rapidly, and then level off, only to be replaced by transistors, which did the same thing until integrated circuits came into the picture. Collectively, even though each of these technological paradigms hit a wall at some point, they were replaced by another advance that allowed the final outcome of computational power to continue to scale exponentially. In proof of this, Ray showed us what seemed to be an exponentially increasing number of charts that demonstrated exponential technological growth."
Another message we heard from many of the speakers, is how low the costs are going, from sensors that we wear and can self diagnose to the world of 3D printing, which using both plastics and metals, doesn't cost more to use.
In addition to 3D printing, Dan Barry talked about one of his favorite topics: robots.
There's no question; robots are getting smarter and smarter. Through sensors, robots are learning how to put objects in the right location and in the right spots within that location, i.e., product placement into a particular location on a particular shelf. "We want to move up the ladder even further," says Barry. "We want robots to not just organize but to sense, throw and manipulate."
Robot's dexterity is improving and their movement is getting more and more fluid. A robot’s hands can correspond to a human’s movements.
Dan gave a useful example of the impact on a human body when they do a space walk. He says, "it takes 4 hours just to get the nitrogen out of our system, but you can do a space walk with a robot through virtual reality and get the job done a lot faster."
He also brought up the social and ethical implications of people who may choose robots as their companions rather than human beings. In the future, robots will become true companions for people who are lonely, have lost their loved ones or generally just want companionship. Hmmm. Not sure about companionship (for me that is), but I definitely get the value of robots in eldercare and have already seen amazing advancements coming out of Willow Garage, where their PR2s are being trained to put dishes away, set the table and clean among other things.
On the Data Driven Healthcare panel, Stanford University's Dan Riskin talked about the convergence of devices. Says Riskin, "We’re able to take these platforms, such as an iPhone or a computer system, pull together valuable information and make it really useful. We’re seeing an innovation shift to mature platforms."
As for devices and technology, medical intervention will become an app. In fact, it's already starting to happen. Apps will be prescribed just like medication, i.e, welldoc shows a decrease in diabetics problems (a 4 fold benefit from an app than using medications alone).
We also heard about a perspective on the fundamental flaws of the RCT, which included things like the long term nature of it (often a decade to change care), the high expense (not affordable without support), the fact that it can be biased (selected based on drug and device firms) and lastly, that they're poorly generalizable. It’s just not working and ineffective.
Other apps are able to extract words/language that a patient uses and put them into a matrix to show how these words relate to each other, i.e., fever, nausea, chest tightness. The power of analytics is helping the doctor make a diagnosis by structuring a record so that he/she has more data and beyond that, some actual “meaning” within that data.
An example that was given was a test they did with a small group of patients who got re-admitted into the hospital. They did an analysis and discovered what contributed to people being re-admitted to the hospital and more importantly, why. The results helped with quality improvement and flow of data.
A force behind eLegs is Iceland-born Eythor Bender from Berkeley Bionics. They augment humans with wearable, artificially intelligent bionic devices called exoskeletons. Below is a young man demonstrating it to the FutureMed audience, showing how flexible and dynamic his world has become using their technology. Since visuals (and patient feedback) is most powerful, check out their YouTube channel for stories and use cases and their eLegs FAQ for the hows and whys. All I can say is: inspiring. There are no words for the rest.
Healthtap founder Ron Gutman pushed the need to unite consumers and physicians in personal health – both the data and the conversation. In other words, get physicians into the game and allow them to particate in the conversation so they can access this data in real time and better help their patients. The two step approach involves creating an infrastructure, then getting the physicians to engage with the data so its always up to-date and therefore relevant. It’s essentially a database that combines data, conversations, and personalization around the patient so the physician can be more effective in their care and decisions.
Sutha Kamal talked about feedback loops, which was a constant theme throughout the program. If I (a patient), can access data in real time through a wearable sensor and make sense of that data, then I can help my doctor better understand what is happening with my health over time. Feedback loops provoke action. (also refer to the beginning of my TEDxSV post where Wired's Chris Anderson talks about the same thing citing examples).
If you have no "meaning" from the data, then essentially you have a "broken" feedback loop. Data without meaning doesn't move a patient to take the right action OR have the right conversations with their doctors and other experts. "When you get this data, that data should belong to you," says Kamal. "We want to understand the things that you would adhere to but don’t today. Feedback is personal but meaning needs to be in that personal data so you, the patient, end up doing something with the data."
Ultimately, if you think your body is a “black box,” aka poor health, you’re going to end up getting depressed because you don’t know where to start. In the future, a lot of this gathered data will end up on our phones because they're with us all the time.
Google's Roni Zeiger says, "our cell phones will become our data lens for information about our bodies. You will also be able to access information in real time about the workflow of a hospital and the wait of the line in the emergency room. The patient is at the center of information flow and decision making."
The patient has ALL of the data because they know how they feel better than anyone else does. The data transmitted from a patient's body in the not too distant future, will be used to allow physicians to look at your veins and arteries remotely on a device. Ones and zeros will be flowing back (aka the patient’s data), with analysis so the physicians can make real-time diagnostics and decisions.
It’s happening now with sleep devices and soon it will be happening from a lot of different sources. He also gave examples of smart health realted search queries like “poison control,” which immediately returns the number for the US poison control center, and “suicide,” which displays the number for the US suicide prevention hotline.
Additionally, people are putting their data online, on Twitter, Patients Like Me and in other places and asking people to mine that data in a way that will be useful for their care givers and doctors. The distinction between data and conversations are becoming blurred, and eventually they’ll go away.
Gamification is a natural example, where incentives are given for a a particular behavior. Esther asked: "Where are the HR execs in this conversation?"
There’s an increasing trend in employer benefits where companies can start to engage with employees in innovative ways that has a positive impact on their health.
On reimbursement, McCall suggested that rather than see this as a barrier, think about creative ways to compensate. She noted that “there are ways for these things to pay for themselves.”
Google's Astro Teller gave a fascinating talk about body monitoring. He asserts that body monitoring isn't really about healthcare. "It misses the point," he says. "That way of thinking derails us from understanding what body monitoring can actually become in the future. Fitness people tend to be quantitative nuts. If you drive at the group that makes the most sense, you miss all the other amazing opportunities."
He talked about major obvious opportunities in this space, such as the “patch” which is very small and very cheap. Other trends around body monitoring in the future?
Upselling new pieces of value to the same wearer by showing value and cost effectiveness. Passive monitoring will also be big, he says, because at the end of the day, people don't like to "do" a lot for their health but they do want to be healthy. Passive monitoring allows us to have sensors on our bodies, but we don’t have to think about them. He's spot on about that one.
Monitors can tell us how much time people spend on their computers, their heart beats, the "way" they use something, such as a mouse. By monitoring a "behavior" such as mouse movement, you can get an idea of visual motor quality which is often a result of sleep deprivation or early warnings of Parkinsons and Alzheimers disease.
With sensors, people often ask “what does it measure?” Teller says, "this is not the point. We want the guess/surrogate to be better than it makes the statement about and we want accuracy to be good enough that we can make a better analysis overall about your body."
He also reminded us that while we’ve spent a lot of time sequencing the human genome, we haven’t spent much time sequencing the human lifestyle. Wearable body monitoring isn’t about being quantified, reinforcing his point by saying that "Mary Jo Jane" (aka the average person) doesn’t want to be quantified.
"Wearable body monitoring is about having the right parts of the world know who you are and in what you want and need in a million little ways, in real time, and all the time."
At the end of the day, you want people/things/data to respond to what you need without you having to think about it. AND, there will literally be a million apps for that. (his prediction is 1 million+ apps by 2015).
Check out the CBS Interactive Smart Planet clip for a "short" on Dan Barry's talk. And for incredibly in-depth coverage of the entire event, check out the summaries by MedGadget by the day.
Day One Summary: Ray Kurzweil, Gabor Forgacs, Eythor Bender and more.
Day Two Summary: Eric Schadt, Esther Dyson, Kaiser's Innovation Center.
Day Three Summary: Robert Hariri, Mike West, Autodesk and more.
Day Four Summary: Andrew Hessel, Philip Low, Intuitive Surgical and more.
Day Five Summary: Erik Rasmussen, Andy Kogelnik, Brad Peterson and Goodbyes.
And let's not forget David Bolinsky and team's incredible animation.
For a mind numbing experience, check out their site for a video that will take you through the human body in the most exciting way you could ever have imagined. (it's a bit like being on a Back to Future ride). Below, a glimpse of the magic they have created for companies, healthcare institutions and hospitals.
Below is a shot from the FutureMed graduation at NASA AMES in Silicon Valley on the last night, a group shot taken during the week and one taken at an after party. And, here are some images I shot from the kick off party, which includes an overview of the program and the first day.
Disclosure: I provided some consulting to FutureMed.
May 17, 2011 in America The Free, Client Announcements, Client Media Kudos, Conference Highlights, Events, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Robotics, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack