February 22, 2012
TEDxBerkeley 2012's Inspiring Innovation Merges Magic, BioData & Technology With Film, Oceans & Plants
Most people in my circles know what a TEDx event is but for those of you who don't, it is a local, self organized event that bring people together to share a TED-like experience, in the spirit of ideas worth spreading.
This video gives you an idea of what these non-profit events are like, which extend far beyond Berkeley. Cities around the world are organizing TEDx events, with a goal to teach, share, collaborate, educate, faciliate and grow. Ideas worth spreading means that some of these ideas can revolutionize (and have revolutionized) the world because of a new relationship or partnership that has evolved as a result of the wider distribution of these ideas and the courage and dedication of people behind making the 'magic' happen.
It's the second year I've been involved as co-curator of TEDxBerkeley, an event held at Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall every February. In attendance were well over 1,000 people from a broad range of disciplines and minds - from academic, music and science to medicine, technology and the arts.
15 ground-breaking thinkers, leaders and performers entertained and educated the audience through storytelling, performance and anecdotes from their life experiences.
Given that UC Berkeley is involved, so were some of the professors and students, including the opening act by DeCadence (pronounced dee-KAY-dence, with a capital ‘C’), a vocalist group that sports eye-catching blue and gold capes and creative dance moves at nearly every performance.
The musician in me couldn't help but call out music brilliance first and while we're on the topic of incredible voices, Charles Holt stole the stage with his storytelling and singing of "He Lives in You," my favorite Lion King number.
He had me at "go" is an understatement, largely because of his intuitive nature, the fact that he lives his life through that intuitive lense and his witty and incredibly honest stories of his mother and grandmother from the south, which will leave you crying and laughing at the same time.
From music to dance, Jodi Lomask then awed us through her dance troupe. Known for her work with an organization she founded called Capacitor 15 years ago, she works with world-renowned research scientists to create original dance works that draw attention to critical environmental issues.
I think about people I know who spend their life committed to understanding oceans and I think about the moment it was for me that I got one step closer: deep sea diving off the coast of Australia some 60 or so feet below the surface. In that world, that remarkable world, you truly understand the beauty of a world we need to cherish and preserve.
Her dancers showed us that beauty through a combination of violin, dance movements in and outside of rings in somewhat of a Cirque du Soleil style and environmental videos, all creating an outer world exerience for us to share.
One of my favorite moments of the performance is below...the intertwining of minds, hearts and bodies.
Also involved in conservation and the environment was Dr. Maria Fadiman who I had the pleasure of setting up with a new Twitter account (social media will get us all, the deep hidden voice says, lurking in the background), is a fascinating combination of geologist, comedian, nature lover and ethnobotanist, her work focuses on the relationship between people and plants.
From South Florida, her style was very informal for an academic crowd yet had people laughing as she pounced onto the stage with a machete in hand, telling one humorous story after another of her time in the jungle, the majority of her time spent in the rainforests of Latin America.
She has worked with Tibetan children in teaching them to record their own ethnobotanical traditions and is currently working on a global scale cross cultural study of people’s use of a cultural keystone species (the flora and fauna that are deemed important to the survival of a culture), and how these plants can act as larger ecosystem preservation incentives.
Digital fabrication is where you change the rules about how things are made, referencing 3D printers, showing us examples of various things which can be printed into a variety of materials, including rubber, plastic and metal.
It's amazing what can be printed on a 3D printer now...I ran into BitTorrent's Bram Cohen at SF Music Tech who showed me a very interesting 3D ring he was wearing on his finger. Additionally, imagine 3D buildings and even a 3D-printed human kidney.
We also heard about the rise of information, aka the wisdom of the crowds and the wisdom of the 'cloud.' Not only are we all becoming creators in our own way on our own personal platforms, but we're becoming curators as well.
Then, ARZU's Connie Duckworth, who took the stage in vibrant red, focused on international development sharing things learned from her work in Afghanistan. She says of the current state of international development:
- The international development industry is dysfunctional.
- Big money brings big unintended consequences.
- Hope can’t thrive in the world’s worse places.
She believes that we have an urgent call to change the structure of the international development industry, which holds in its hands the lives of billions of people at the bottom of the pyramid.
Their thinking is that somehow inherently flawed short term thinking will move into sustainable systems. Big money when not hosed in the right direction can create a lot of chaos. She asserts that its a key reason that so many people lose so much faith in their government.
She refers to another unintended consequence of big money going to the wrong places: Brain Tilt, which is when the most highly educated local people (engineers, professors, doctors), all end up working for expats in low level positions. Local smart people are working as drivers and clerks rather than working in higher level positions because they can get paid so much more in the other positions.
Connie defines the quest for peace as security. “We all see the world through our own lens of experience, so for me, success all starts with a job. This is how people start with a way to solve those basic level needs, such as the ability to eat and feed their family.” She encouraged the audience not to just sit back and want peace, but believe in it and take action.
Rather than focus on money, we wanted to focus on giving, in other words, the idea of unleashing the power of compassion capital. “Once you unleash compassion,” he says, it’s amazing what happens. “Stay focused on adding value and discovered untapped capital.”
When small acts of giftivism get connected and activated, it rekindles a gift economy. A gift culture, he says, is marked by four key shifts:
- Shift from Consumption to Contribution – Instead of asking “what can I get,” open with “What can I give?” He says if you open each door with a different question, about what can you give, it changes the entire dynamics.
- Shift from Transaction to Trust: Build synergy. He refers to Karma Kitchen, a restaurant in Berkeley, where you pay for the people ahead of you or behind you rather than for your own bill. 26,000 meals so far and people continue to pay it forward.
- Shift from Isolation to Community: it is not enough that we connect, but rather how we connect. When you serve other people together, you create a network of ‘gift ties.’
- Shift from Scarcity to Abundance: Cultivate inner transformation to arrive at enough. “There is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
Hear hear Nipun. From gift economies, we shifted to Gopi Kallayil from Google who talked about the power of social and a connected world, particularly during the 18 days of the Egyptian protests, showing us a video where Desmond Tutu is talking to the Dalai Lama on Google+, a clip which has now been watched 2 million times. This is a great example of how social media is driving innovation around the world.
We saw examples from Libya and Kenya to South Africa and Egypt, where during the protests, they were able to express how they really felt and more importantly, people were able to listen to those words on YouTube and other platforms. They sang, “the most important thing is our right and writing our history with our blood – if you were one of us, better not blabber and tell us to go away and leave our dream and stop saying the word “I”. In every street in my country, the sound of freedom is calling. In every street in my country, the sound of freedom is calling.” Powerful stuff.
From the vantage point of healthcare, intuition and communications, Dr. Neha Sangwan encourages everyone to be proud of yourself for "listening to yourself." Often, listening to ourself comes second to listening to opinions of others, whether they be friends and family or a doctor we're seeing for a particular issue.
She asks, "what if communication is the cure that we're missing? What is the way we talk to ourselves & whether we choose to lean into our discomfort & show up in the world? What is this is the prescription for health long before I need to write you a prescription?"
Her talk was highly emotional as she brought us a journey around the world to the Middle East, where she spoke to women, sharing with us insights she learned about their world, their pride and in turn, what we can learn from them in the western world.
A professor at Berkeley, Ken Goldberg who closed the talks, on nothing other than robots. Yes, robots...and what we can learn from them. As someone who worked in speech recognition for years and did a project for the Willow Garage guys (I love PR2 and even danced with one), I was eager to hear his insights.
Ken thinks robots can inspire us and that we have a lot to learn from them. Some of those insights from various projects over the years include: always question assumptions. It's amazing how quick we are to turn to other people's assumptions and make decisions based on them without digging deeper. Secondly, when in doubt, improvise.
I couldn't help but smile but when i realized that both of these recommendations btw are great ones for start-ups as well as for children. So is tihs one: When your path is blocked, pivot. In start-up culture, we learn to pivot a lot, something that Fortune 500 companies should pay more attention to...
Author and thought leader David Ewing Duncan focused on DATA and how do we make sense of it all?', something he thinks is an awesome achievement of humanity, for 'better or worse.'
Because of his background, he centered his talk around bio-data. He points out that today, we can get a micro-analysis of our blood work, which can tell us how just whether we have a high chance of cancer and chronic diseases, but how empathetic we are as human beings. He notes "more experiences, more tests leads to more data."
But, as so many of us know, we have so much data, that its often overwhelming, so much so we can't make sense of the data we have at our fingertips. This is David's point.
Whats needed, he asserts is a new mindset in every occupation. "Enough of all this data, what does this data actually mean?" he says. "We need a revolution in interpreting the tools and the data as well as a radical shift in resources. In other words, how do we go about testing 42,000 genetic traits?"
Clearly, we need a radical shift in resources. There's only 4% invested on translational medicine and he thinks there needs to be a reversal in resource allocation. He also pointed to trends in the future for all the students sitting in the hall: "we're going to need 500 million analysts in 6 years and we only have 100 million today." Clearly, these are the people who are going to be well versed at making sense of all that data and transforming it into something usable and most importantly, actionable by individuals.
Tapan Parikh, a Berkeley University professor brought us back into traditional technology and current trends. Tapan’s research interests include human-computer interaction (HCI), mobile computing, speech UIs and information systems for microfinance, smallholder agriculture and global health.
He showed us photographs and results of some of his work in rural areas. Of his latest projects, Tapan has been designing, developing and deploying information systems in the rural developing world – initially in India, and now also in Latin America and Africa.
Tapan and his students have started several technology companies serving rural communities and the development sector. It was inspirational to see what they have accomplished so far and to see what is possible with resources, tearing down silos, sharing among communities and better access.
What he hopes to represent is the notion of showing respect for where you come from. He says, "Pick a challenge that is important to you" (for him, it was setting up real-time video conferencing, knowledge sharing and instant messaging in India), "and stick to it." He adds, "Don't assume you know what people need for their development - let them speak up, don't act for them."
I was thrilled that Tiffany Shlain was able to join us this year as I've always been a fan of her work. She has been making films for 20 years, and some of them have hit Sundance, Tribeca, Rotterdam and others and her films have won over 36 film festival awards.
Tiffany says, "each time we were able to change the way we recorded film and show reality, we were able to change reality itself."
She showed us snippets from her most recent film: Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology, A Declaration of Interdependence.” Connected had its U.S. theatrical tour this past fall and is now available for people to host their own screenings.
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) announced earlier this month the 29 films selected for the American Film Showcase, an international cultural diplomacy initiative that brings people together worldwide through film and Connected made the list.
The movie is enlightening and sad at the same time, taking us deep into what is happening around us in a connected world and how technology is shaping and reshaping us. Bravo!! I have a love/hate relationship with technology myself -- the timing of this film couldn't be more perfect.
"Do something radical and true," she says. "We as humans should declare our human interdependence." Film projects they're working on for others are centered on life's most emotional topics: engagement, power, money, wisdom, death, inspiration, the brain and others.
Now that we're back to Entertainment, the E in TED, the last two speakers this year were performers: magician Robert Strong and violinist Lindsey Stirling.
Robert Strong is known as 'The Comedy Magician' and in watching him, it's so clear that magic is his life passion. He has performed on every major television network, in more than 40 different countries, in all 50 states, and twice at the White House.
I never paid much attention to the word magic until I renamed my own consultancy with Magic in the name. Now, I see 'magic' everywhere and am a true believer that perception is reality and that we can create any outcome we want through our own belief systems.
Lindsey Stirling, who I first saw play at Idea Festival in Kentucky last fall, is often referred to as the Hip Hop Violinist. Her passion, energy, and presence is magnetic, so much so, that you can't help but want to get up on stage and dance as she jumps around, violin and all, around you. Here's some background on her work. Let's just say that I'm a huge fan.
Check out last year's (2011) TEDxBerkeley talks on video. And a few talks from last year to get you inspired were Chip Conley on remembering that we're human in business, Anat Baniel on flexibility and vitality, Lopas Brunjes on carbon reduction, Bryan Alvarez on living organisms in our body, and Shore Slocum on spiritual awakening and awareness and how this can transform your everyday life.
February 22, 2012 in America The Free, Arts & Creative Stuff, Conference Highlights, Entertainment/Media, Europe, Events, Magic Sauce Media, Music, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Poems, Literature & Stuff, On Robotics, On Technology, On the Future, San Francisco, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
February 18, 2012
Is What I Crave Connected to My Heritage, Where I Live or Both?
It always seems to take over a month for those post holidays sugar and fatty food cravings to disappear. I’ve noticed that those cravings are often more prevalent during certain times of the year and when I visit certain parts of the world, and it’s not just because those “cravings” are the only things that locals eat.
I currently live in northern California and have lived in 10 countries, including more than my fair share of cold-weathered cities. There’s no question that colder climates can make you crave heartier dishes and hotter temperature foods, even though Brits argued that soups and curries helped them cool down in India during the colonial years.
Since living on the west coast, I crave more sushi than when I lived in Boston. When I visit northern European cities, I crave more red meat even if there’s fish or chicken on the menu and the weather is warm.
Culture contributes to those cravings and may explain why my Italian-born friends prefer a crisp Sauvignon Blanc over a buttery Chardonnay and how I developed such a tight bond with South African biltong that it’s hard to convince natives that I wasn’t raised there.
That said, there are some dishes I crave that feel like they’re “part” of who I am, such as squash, kobasa, duck, and toast for starters. Call it comfort food but I wonder, is it a craving for “comfort” or is it connected to heritage, where generations of eating certain things gets passed on, embedded in our DNA if you will?
When my grandfather sat down for lunch, his staple to-go plate included cold meats, pickles and onions. My grandmother would add a bowl of onions to the table since he added onions to more dishes than I’d care to admit.
Observing this behavior was subliminal at best, yet here I am years later craving many of the same things my grandfather ate, and have noticed a “craving” increase of some of his favorite dishes as I get older.
There are examples of this across the globe, such as the thousands of banana varieties in Africa alone, not to mention vegetables and fruits not that plentiful in the west like guava and okra. Whatever we have an abundance of, we eat, another reason I’m thrilled the holidays are over.
When we lived in Florida, oranges were a regular sighting in our kitchen as was coconut juice when I hung my hat in Kenya. I lived on curries in London and ate French fries with peanut butter sauce in Amsterdam.
But, how much of our cravings are connected to other factors such as our body chemistry and general health?
Rest assured, there are lots of foods that make me feel better, such as fruits and vegetables. And, when I eat healthier, my body chemistry changes as do my cravings. When I used to juice regularly, I’d find alcohol and low-alkaline foods hard to stomach. Our bodies adapt just as our ancestor’s bodies adapted to different kinds of foods as a result of changes in climate, food availability and the economy. (Think The Depression).
Many doctors and health experts may argue that our cravings have nothing to do with heritage whatsoever. There’s certainly no shortage of doctor-blessed diets that promise to reduce your cravings, decrease your “bad” cholesterol and add years to your life.
D'Adamo suggests that the human blood type is key to the body's ability to differentiate self from non-self. Lectins in foods, he asserts, react differently with each ABO blood type and to a lesser extent with an individual's secretor status.
One source suggests that orange juice is bad for my blood type whereas grapefruit juice and I should shine. The truth is that while I like both, I prefer grapefruit juice and “feel” healthier drinking it.
One of the noted symptoms of adrenal fatigue, a condition where your adrenal glands become “tired”, is a craving of salty, fatty, and high protein food such as meat and cheese. Some blood type diets observe that Type O’s don’t find dairy products and grains as ‘body-friendly.” It makes you wonder what percentage of people from northern Europe are Type O’s versus those who hail from Africa or Asia?
Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity by Elias & Kethum suggest that I should add more “cool foods” to my diet and avoid red vegetables such as tomatoes and red peppers which can make you feel more “irritable & off-balance” and bitter foods and beverages, which are considered more ‘healing.’ They focus on five elemental types: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. After doing a questionnaire, they recommend certain foods based on your results and tell you to avoid others, with the goal of getting your body into balance and harmony.
Albeit not new, Dr. Barnet Meltzer has written about something he refers to as “food swings”, the reactions in your mind and body to what you eat, a link between your diet and your emotional and physical well-being. Female friends have admitted that they may eat more at times when they knowingly don’t want to attract men into their lives.
Those who have tried the Atkins Diet know that it makes you forget about carbs after the first week and soon, its promise to drop the pounds becomes a reality, for a price that is and not necessarily a healthy one.
A highly alkaline and juice diet made me enjoy raw foods in a way I never thought was possible. Being a vegetarian for awhile made me despise the smell of meat for a few years and Rosedale’s diet argues that Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, tells the brain when to eat, how much to eat and when to stop eating.
The time of day you eat is also a factor. When I returned from Italy several years ago, I craved pasta in the mornings and it wasn’t until I avoided carbs until late afternoon that those sharp cravings disappeared.
The Telegraph’s Science Correspondent Richard Alleyne unveiled research in 2009 that examined how the time of day you eat affects how much weight you put on; eating high fat foods during the day led to a 20 per cent weight gain.
This is just the beginning of an exploration of how cravings are connected to heritage, location, time and health. If you have ever documented your cravings and have insights to share, let’s evolve the conversation. Over to you, health afficiandos, doctors, researchers, experts and those who are as genuinely curious as I am about this topic, to offer your opinions and data.
October 05, 2011
Georgia Tech's Rosa Arriaga on the Power of Human Censors
Georgia Tech Psychologist Rosa Arriaga talked to the Idea Festival audience about the importance of human censors to not only empower patients to take better control of their diseases, particularly chronic diseases, but improve self reliance overall.
She notes that individuals of chronic conditions aren’t even aware of their own symptoms. She brought up SocialMirror, which is a targeted social network for individuals with autism. Tools like this for patients can help them stay motivated about making their regime a priority, including medicine.
Through his network, the app can provide feedback about what an autism patient should do or not do in a particular social situation, such as what to wear at a particular event, what to say, what to bring to a meeting or party, certain behaviors and so on. The social network combined with caregiver and doctor feedback can be a powerful tool to help patients become so much more self reliant than they could ever have imagined in the past.
This would obviously work for so many other conditions and chronic diseases. She ends with this parting thought and prediction. "The future of health and well-being will be done with social computing and social/human censors.”
The Future of Medicine is the Engaged Patient Who Makes Their Own Decisions
John Moore who is currently a PhD candidate in the New Media Medicine group at the MIT Media Lab, is working to fundamentally change the role that patients can play in their care by empowering them with knowledge, understanding, confidence, and channels for communication.
He is studying the effect that new technology-mediated paradigms for doctor-patient collaboration can have on education, adherence, and behavior change.
In the future of medicine, his goal is to design systems to make the patient help decide what medicine to take, where the doctor acts as the “guide.”
He gives us in the Idea Festival audience a few sad facts. People retain only 15-20% of what they hear from doctors after they leave the office. Very few actually follow through and take their medicine even after picking up the prescription. He says that the reason that the stats look so grim is because the system we have today has been designed so poorly.
As a result, Moore and his team are working on transforming systems and creating programs that are more integrative and effective. For example, with Parkinsons disease, they can monitor patient’s activity by wearing a device and matching that back to the medicine they’re taking. Patients can also correlate their behavior as well so they can take their medicine in a timely manner. This is being done through online video conferencing and games.
Games are being developed so patients can set goals with their physical therapist in real time and then have the game results and feedback sent back to the clinician while they’re playing at home. This feedback can help adjust and re-adjust exercises and medicine that they do so improvement is more dramatic. Much of this can be monitored at home so a lot can be diagnosed without the patient having to come into the doctor's office, saving both time and money.
Moore wants to empower patients to change how they view their own conditions through experience not through reading or simply doing what a doctor tells them to do. He believes that patients should be able to get interactive feedback in real time.
“The future of medicine is the engaged patient, where they participate in their own ‘care’ program”, ends Moore.
October 04, 2011
Aubrey De Grey Talks Regenerative Medicine, Aging & Rational Denial of Aging Process
In an effort to ignite regenerative medicine and transform the way we think about health and aging, Aubrey de Grey spends his time on airplanes between England and Silicon Valley, as well as to conferences and events where he can evangelize his message to those who help accelerate his mission.
How should we go about developing medicine in the near future? he asks a large group who showed up in Louisville for Idea Festival, who committed their time to be there because they're interested in innovation, advanced learning and making the world a better place.
He encouraged people to think about aging and dying differently. Death from aging is not only “natural causes, it’s anything that mainly kills older people.”
A few stats: about 150,000 people die per day worldwide, two thirds of them die of aging which equates to 100,000 per day. In the USA, the proportion is over 90%.
None of us are getting any younger and those of us who live in the United States know how broken our healthcare system is...we don't like to think what that means while we're still under 50 because frankly it's too painful to go there. It's only when we see our aging parents go through the system, where things don't work, their live savings are wiped out within months, service is inefficient and disagnoses happen more than they should but because traditional doctors aren't thinking holistically rather than incompetence.
Aging is considered ghastly but also inevitable. It is rational to put ghastly but inevitable things out of our minds, even if we have to be amazingly irrational in order to do so. He calls this rational denial.
"But what if that inevitability became unclear?" he asks. The focus of his talk revolved around the following issues and how we can make a difference:
- Repair versus retardation.
- Specifics: the seven types of damage
- Intracellular junk/medical bioremediation
- Longevity: escape velocity: the concept
- Some evidence that LEV is realistic
De Grey made it clear that his focus is centered around health not longevity which is where regenerative medicine comes in, which he defines as any intervention that seeks to restore a tissue/organ to its state before it suffered damage.
Aging is essentially when metabolism ongoingly causes damage and damage eventually causes pathology over time. Options for intervention divide into two different approaches: the gerontology and the geriatrics approach.
Damage can be slowed down to some degree and other things along the way can be repaired. He asserts that there are seven deadly things that make up damage in our bodies:
- Junk – inside cells
- Junk – outside cells
- Cells – too few
- Cells – too many
- Mutations – chromosomes
- Mutations – mitochondria
- Protein Crosslinks
If we can develop bioremediation in a way that is sustainable, we can tackle aging diseases that cause damage and eventually lead to our death. Robust human rejuvenation he says, can give the middle-aged 30 years of extra healthy life.
Repairing damage periodically can buy us time. In other words, you can slow aging down.
First generation therapies should be likely to transform the health quality of a 60 year old into a 90 year old body. If you start early, you benefit from buying time and putting off some of the damage from aging by 20-30 years.
Then, 20-30 years later, you can do another therapy that has decades of research and improvement.
Essentially therapies double efficacy only every 42 years. The result is that you can add decades to your life, particularly if you start the therapies early enough.
In Aubrey’s words: “we have a humanitarian duty to fix aging.” Hear hear Aubrey. Hear hear!
Maverick Aubrey de Grey is the editor-in-chief of the journal Rejuvenation Science and co-author of the 2007 book Ending Aging. He challenges the most basic assumption underlying the human condition —that aging is inevitable. He argues instead that aging is a disease --one that can be cured if it's approached as "an engineering problem." His plan calls for identifying all the components that cause human tissue to age, and designing remedies for each of them —forestalling disease and eventually pushing back death…providing for an indefinite lifespan. He calls this approach Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS).
October 03, 2011
Wanna Shed a Few Extra Pounds? Meet Autom, the Dieting Robot & Weight-Loss Coach!
I met Cory Kidd in Kentucky recently at the annual Idea Festival, who flew south from New England to show off Autom, a robot designed to help people with their diets. It is up to the user to enter in the details of their diet, such has their fitness level and then Autom uses its databank to interact with the user, engage in conversation and give you feedback.
Along with keeping a record of what you have been eating throughout the day, Autom inspires you to look good and remain in shape. She comes complete with an artificial female voice for commands and has a touchscreen belly for all kinds of input. Describes one site: "it is harmless, and like a human it won't rebuke you for eating one extra dessert but would surely keep account of the same." The selling price being estimated is around $600 or $500.
Think of it as a weight-loss coach, but a robotic one, one who knows how much you've been exercising, and a whole lot about your diet. With a touch of your finger, she knows if you're in a good mood or not as well. Below is a video I shot of Cory explaining how she works:
September 29, 2011
Aneesh Chopra: Blue Buttoning Our Own Data Will Fuel Innovation & Empower Americans
If you haven't heard of the name before, Aneesh Chopra is the United States Chief Technology Officer, where he serves as an Assistant to the President and Associate Director for Technology within the Office of Science & Technology Policy. Whooah Nelly, that's a mouthful of a title.
In other words, he works to advance the President’s technology agenda by fostering new ideas and encouraging government-wide coordination to help the country meet its goals from job creation, to reducing health care costs, to protecting the homeland.
I had a chance to listen to him speak at the Idea Festival recently, where his talk focused on the President's mission and goals, with a central core theme to make it happen: working from the bottom up, not the top down and opening up data so others can create and innovate with it, and we, as a nation, can thrive.
Here's what they're currently focused on within the above framework:
- Putting more people back to work
- Boosting access to capital for high growth companies
- Turning job seekers to job creators
- Unleashing the mobile broadband revolution
- Modernizing 35,000 schools
- Making government services transparent to job creators
- Open Government aka the Start Up America initiative
- Patent reform
- Catalyze breakthroughs
Technology was a big part of his message as he echoes Obama's pitch, "for our families and our businesses, high speed wireless service and mobile is the next train station, it’s the next off-ramp..it’s how we’ll spark innovation, new investment, new jobs." He also referenced Silicon Valley start-ups on more than one occasion, including Instagram and Crowdflower.
Aneesh says that there's an aministration commitment to unleash market opportunities by framing current or proposed policies to inspired entrepreneurs and gaining valuable policy feedback for iteration with an emphasis on healthcare, education and energy.
Where is the puck heading?
"We need breakthroughs," he says. "The only way is to tap into new hubs outside Silicon Valley." Hear hear Aneesh.
He also talked about education dominance, pushing software that adapts to how students learn, inspiration for the proposed ARPA-ED. They want to open up the data to teachers and make it accessible to them and their students, regardless of where they are in the country.
Another challenge they face he throws the audience's way is the clean energy revolution. They're hoping that ARPA-E investments and NIST standards activities will spur creativity.
He cites the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as an example, America's center for weather data. The weather industry is worth about $2 billion he reminds and "they're fueled because of open government data."
Aneesh adds, "we can also encourage market transparency." Healthcare.gov is a comprehensive catalog of insurance options, an effort to create more transparency than ever before. You’ll be able to find pricing data, how often an insurance company charges a premium, and how often were people rejected (denied coverage for whatever reason).
He also mentioned “Blue Button”, a public/private initiative that scales, where veterans can download their personal health information from their My HealtheVet account. My HealtheVet users who receive VA health care services can also refill their prescriptions and view their appointments, allergies, and laboratory results online.
Why not transfer that kind of tool to other areas and industries he says, such as education. "Imagine if every student could get a downloadable document of his/her assessment, a personalized platform that translates from student performance to market reality. We need personalized platforms for each of our children that can translate into something meaningful. This is the kind of thing that can fuel products and services. Find where the data sits and find out a way to liberate that data.”
He adds, "We're liberating government data & if people can become billionaires because of it, God Bless." The audience laughs.
He continued to push the open government throughout his talk including in the Q&A at the end, which was incredibly well received. (note: while the audience had visitors from the west coast, DC, the north, NYC and other places, there was a large number of locals - aka the midwest meets the south...in other words, family values and education are high priorities).
Certainly blue buttoning our own data is going to fuel innovation and empower individuals. Isn't it where we have to go? If we don't, we become victims rather than creators of our own lives and destinies in more ways than one.
September 29, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Europe, On Being Green, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On Mobile & Wireless, On Politics, On Technology, On the Future, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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
May 16, 2011
TEDx Silicon Valley: Anderson, Hogg, Meier and Stein: #tedxsv
Anderson asserts that a data feedback loop can improve behavior as you see real-time stats on the consequences of your actions, whether its from a device or a non-intrustive wearable monitor. Simply by being aware of how your body is affected by your actions, you can improve your performance and lead a healthier life - emotionally and physically.
Feedback loops was a popular theme of many of the speakers, who focused on the growth of sensors which track your patterns and behavior. Bpttom line: once we see value in the feedback we receive from sensors, which continue to come down in price, we can measure everything we do. "Measurement," says Anderson, "quantifies what matters most and through that feedback loop, we can make smarter decisions."
Gamification -- on and offline -- can also be effective and is growing in popularity. Whether its points or rewards we give a child who remembers to brush his or her teeth or badges and coupons to buy things online if we cut out that donut and coffee for five days in a row, the feedback we receive through gamification is validation that we're doing something right or wrong.
Imagine a future where you're measuring nearly everything you do? Tomorrow, your thermometer can let you know when is the most efficient time to run the dishwasher, shaving money off your bill month after month. Today, you can already do quite a bit with measuring devices, right down to measuring stress levels in real time based on who you're talking to. (be prepared bosses, mother-in-laws, accountants, dentists and lawyers - stress meter readings may not be all that pretty).
Chris Hogg reinforced Anderson's message about the importance of data and measurement, particularly as it relates to better health and well being.
He pointed to his 67 year old step father who regularly drinks foul tasting tea and can see a correlation between drinking it and improved health, all of which he tracks on his iPhone.
Patrick Meier gave us a demo of something he referred to as Check-Ins with Purpose.
Country after country, he showed us a mapped location of how check-ins and smart location mapping has helped humanitarian efforts.
Forward wind to the Japanese Tsunami. They created a "crisis map" to help locate missing people, which the Japanese government and other organizations who were providing relief, could access.
The other example he used was Libya, where they created a "social media map" to improve their humanitarian efforts on the ground. Take a look at Libya Crisis Map.net.
The Libya Crisis Map platform was activated by the request of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to the Standby Task Force (SBTF). The platform continues to be supported by volunteers.
We can be more effective at helping people than we ever have been able to do in the past with rich geo-location based services and social media tools at our fingertips. We can use Facebook to schedule and post notices, Twitter to coordinate and get the word out and YouTube to share the story in more depth. "These live maps," he says, "are like having helicopters above you so you can see exactly where people are and therefore find them that much faster."
One of the things she has learned from going through the process is to keep your ear to the ground....in other words, listen to voices from the local community. She calls the phenomena they have created, a "global tribe."
Says Lara, "My goals have migrated from how do you create systems and back ends on the ground TO how to we paint the story of this massively global and passionate tribe? The latest stats are staggering: 1,783 past events, 1,002 future events, 101 cities and 46 countries.
A handful of guidelines she has learned include the following: plan for the predictable, be prepared to invent as you learn, don’t get in the way, pave the way of your real time feedback loop, ignore the chorus, be prepared to fail (another theme of speakers), don’t think of it as a part time job, listen to the community on the ground, and follow your moral compass. She adds, "our focus is inspiration and action, not education."
She quoted an attendee who attended a TEDx in a remote area: "I was sitting on the end of the world, huge oil fields surrounded by massive dunes and nothing else, I was surrounded by really smart kids and nothing else." Indeed. That feeling is most definitely is a TED-like moment.
May 16, 2011 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On People & Life, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Reflections, Social Media, WBTW, Web 2.0 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
May 13, 2011
Lawrence Sherman Adds a Little Wit to the Future of Medical EducationLawrence Sherman uses humor and wit to talk about the future of medical education at FutureMed this week to an audience of investors, physicians, medical visionaries, thought leaders and healthcare executives: