March 30, 2016
DENT 2016: From the Morality of Sex Robots & AI to Free Diving & Mental Health
Putting a dent in the future -- isn't that a compelling idea? And, what's even more compelling is that it means such different things to different people and why the eclectic DENT Conference in Sun Valley Idaho, is so unique.
From technologists, entrepreneurs and scientists, to artists, astronauts and Olympic Gold medalists, people gather around to hear radical new ideas, learn from the best of the best and share their best practices, all under the roof of the Sun Valley Inn, a stone's throw from Baldy Mountain and incredible skiing, even in the Spring. The brain child of Seattle-based Steve Broback and Jason Preston, DENT is now in its fourth year and my third year of attending, DENT's format is a mix of educational, interactive and thought provoking, with un-conference break-out sessions, fireside chats and general talks.
Since the backbone of the conference stems from the technology community, it seemed fitting that American futurist and author Amy Webb would speak. As the Founder of the Future Today Institute and an Adjunct Professor at New York University's Stern School of Business, she dabbles in a lot of projects. She asks us wryly: "What happens when we get what we say we want?" On the topic of Emerging Tech Trends and the hot button in Silicon Valley right now: Big Data, she addressed where and how that data will change how we think about the world and how we interact with it. What if an algorithm could predict our news? What if a news story could be written by an algorithm, using curated and scraped data that could get published? If you follow financial and sports news today, you may be surprised to learn that many of these stories are already being written by algorithms. Yet, it's not something we really think about and curation is already there in some industries. What if algorithms designed our real world experiences OR even more radical: what if algorithms could program our people?
Photo credit: www.goldenhourblog.com
I've been seeing this for the last few years -- curation is becoming more and more automated and we are moving towards hyper personalized news. Rather than reading a single news story, data that reaches our desktop or mobile device is becoming more personalized for you....all programmed by an algorithm.
The nugget of news will be personalized based on our own old data and online behavior which means that there’s an infinite number of possible stories that could be distributed. What if in the not too distant future, there will be editors but no journalists. Imagine that you will have your own personalized news feed that is pre-filtered based on your likes and preferences.
Yes, it's happening, but it begs the question: is that what we really want? Because there are so many possible places to get our news, the real value will be super customized and personalized. Sure, it will be content vetted, but isn't there an element of joy when we discover new things outside our comfort zones? If the vetted, curated big data funnel merely delivers me content on travel, photography and food because those are topics of interest I search about the most, will I ever learn about something new I might want to try, like martial arts or sky diving?
And, if I'm a democrat that searches more for Bernie Sanders talks than Ted Cruz, will the articles on Bernie be more favorable than the ones on Ted Cruz, and how does that algorithm decide what bias to let me see -- and more importantly, not see. What gets marshaled to the top and what gets moved to the third page of my search? Machines are learning from human behavior every day, including political views, our income brackets and the ugly biases of racism and homophobia. Truth be told, we are leaving bread crumbs everywhere, every single day. Perhaps in the future, we will PAY to be anonymous and that will be worth more than anything else. I couldn't agree more.
Amy reminds us that the future isn't something that happens to us passively -- – it is something that we are creating proactively and collectively. PATH's CEO Steve Davis addressed Malaria. What does Malaria have to do with technology and innovating the future you ask? A lot when you reflect on the fact that it's 2016 and with all of our advancement, Malaria still remains the number 3 killer in the world.
A child dies every two minutes, and 453,000 people die each year. How is that possible you wonder? It's not just that Malaria is a disease of poverty, but Malaria contributes to poverty.
If you're not familiar with PATH, they work on vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, service and system innovation and they partner with organizations to drive down these diseases that affect so many and so unfairly. With so many creative and bright minds in the room, Davis asked people to think about how to effectively design new issue and systems over the next 10-15 years around products, around operational management and logistics and around financing, all of which could accelerate the progress they make in Africa and beyond.
Currently, Malaria is not being solved by the private sector but he suggests that the real solution is a complex level of collaborations between private sector and governments and that cost and affordability is critical to solving this. Says Davis, "In regular technology innovation, we think about the cost later.
With Malaria, we need to think about the ultimate cost first and then design around that to get to that price, otherwise it won't work." They work in endemic conditions, where there’s not proper education systems and the environment is harsh which means that their work comes with enormous constraints. It should be no surprise that the health systems they work in, especially in Asia and Africa, are incredibly complicated from years of aid and development agency and colonialism mixed with new agencies pouring money into the system.
They are tracking index cases through droids and an app and using this model alone, they are attempting to check and treat every household to better figure out where people may have gotten infected. With a bunch of new data models, knowing where the reservoir is and where the mosquitoes are, is critical to their long term success.
They've been working with Tableau to see where transmission is coming from and to give the data back to the health workers in the front line. To make malaria history, they need to deploy resources faster than the disease can spread, so it's an aggressive but important mission. There's a huge sea change in global demographics. The faster we can get people in these countries to move into lower and middle working class, the faster we can eradicate diseases that are impacting so many.
DENT is a dazzling and mind-expanding experience where people join forces for various collaborative efforts to move the needle and dent the future.
This my friends is how community forms and how the magic and power of one mind + one mind = ten minds gets started. It happened in Silicon Valley and it happens around the world, including once a year in beautiful Sun Valley, where people with a genuine desire in helping good ideas grow and spread, all come together with overlapping interests and empathetic hearts. Those interested in additional photos, below is a collection of networking and after hour shots....
Greg Kisor, Renee Blodgett, Michael Grabham -- photo courtesy of Russell Sparkman
Kris Krug with Jason Nunnelley
Above, Matthew F. Reyes of GoPro and Scott Jordan of ScotteVest
Above, Jason Preston interviews Buick's Dan Kinney who leads User Experience for their Global Connected Customer Experience Group. See journalist Myriam Joire's video interview with Dan at DENT.
Speaking of Buick, how's this for stunning? T'was nice getting picked up from the airport in a gorgeous Regal, especially with backdrops like these.
Larry Brown plays magical tunes...
Marsha Collier, Phil Colley, Buick, Renee Blodgett
Simon Winthrop performs
Steve Broback, Co-Producer of DENT and Phil Colley of Buick's OnStar team
Renee Blodgett, Greg Kisor, Maryam Scoble
Food and wine is also an integral part of the event, so a great choice for foodies who also love tech and innovation...below are some shots taken at the delicious Vintage Restaurant, where Buick held a thought provoking dinner. See my write-up on two foodie gems in the heart of Ketchum.
There's also delicious dining at the Warfield Distillery & Brewery in the center of town...
And, a delicious spread at the home of Scott Jordan, CEO of ScotteVest
Did I mention that Sun Valley also has superb skiing, even in mid-March?
March 30, 2016 in America The Free, Conference Highlights, Events, Magic Sauce Media, On Innovation, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Science, Travel, TravelingGeeks | Permalink | Comments (0)
October 29, 2015
Deepak Chopra & Rupert Spira on Motionless Consciousness
His solo talk explores consciousness, awareness and happiness. When we think of the word happiness, do we think of the word seeking? Or does true happiness come from no seeking at all -- it happens in the moment and when not labeled, it becomes pure joy.
Happiness is not at the end of seeking, its at the source of seeking. As the finite mind plunges, the consciousness mind shines. Says Deepak, "the Human Universe is the only universe that is rooted in consciousness.” In other words, I am the universe. Science is consciousness. God is consciousness, we are consciousness.
He asserts that the Quantum Universe has led to too many mathematical guessing games, all leading to the uncertain universe."
Below, a video I took on-site, he also explores the "awakening of bacterial consciousness." He refers to studies they've done that attribute a purposeful consciousness life to healing around many conditions including leaky gut syndrome.Other leading consciousness guru Rupert Spira (below) says, “the fulfillment of the longing is never at the #destiny of attention, its at the source of attention. Once we have clearly seen that, the happiness lives in the origin of desire.Relationship is a natural essence of love not as a bargain of love which is an impossible state.” Above, Rupert Spira who has a dialogue with Deepak (below for their dialogue via video coverage at the event). The below interview between Rupert Spira and Deepak Chopra requires you to think upside down (or not at all). I shot this at the SAND Conference last weekend (see my full coverage of the event here) which had these two consciousness gurus on stage in a fireside chat. Deepak talks about human suffering and identifying with the false self (aka the ego) and Rupert compares a Mac screen saver to deep sleep (yes really). In other words, consciousness doesn't go through any state; it's motionless. Enjoy being turned upside down!
November 04, 2012
Steven Pinker Speaks on Violence in San Francisco
His topic amongst a large group of singularians, scientists, authors, thinkers, students and technologists? Violence.
He took is on a journey of the decline of violence over time as a persistent development, showing methods that showed prehistoric violence versus the modern violence of today aka life before states and life after states.
It's obvious that literacy matters for a decrease in violence since it brings reason into the conversation ruling out and winning over superstition, which is still alive in a lot of more primitive cultures today.
See my latest write-up on singularity and the future of technology based on my most recent experience at the Singularity Summit. Below is a short video excerpt from his talk.
Video and photo credit: Renee Blodgett.
July 30, 2012
Singularity University, Women@TheFrontier & 10 Incredible Women Design the Future
The program: "Designing the Future 2012", brought together some of today's female game-changers who are designing the future and disrupting the status quo.
Women@TheFrontier's Susan Fonseca and KristinaMaria T-Gutierrez introduced inspirational women who had one heart warming story after another to share.
NASA's Yvonne Cagle also paid a sentimental tribute to astronaut Sally Ride who passed away on July 23.
Ray Kurzweil kicked things off and also closed the event in a unique appearance with his daughter Amy Kurzweil who interviewed him in fireside chat style.
Ray's son was also in attendance with a beaming smile throughout the interview as he watched father and sister chat informally in front of a few hundred people on everything from inspiration and life lessons to technology, health and the future.
Below is Women@TheFrontier founder and CEO Susan Fonseca.
A poised and graceful Kay Koplovitz took the stage with confidence, something certainly not new to her as the first woman to head a television network; she founded USANetworks under the banner of Madison Square Garden Sports in the seventies.
She is also known for founding the Sci-Fi Channel which has become a top ten rated cable network and USANetworks, which runs in 60 countries worldwide.
President Clinton also appointed Kay to chair the bipartisan National Women’s Business Council. With a success record that keeps going, she is a great reminder that persistence and tenacity pays off.
She reminded the audience that 57% of women have masters degrees and 52% of women have doctorate degrees as she threw a quote from Coca Cola CEO onto the screen who said in 2010: "The drivers of the post American world won't be led by China but led by women."
She added a quote from Hilary Clinton who had encouraged companies and individuals to "unlock potential of women by investing in girls and women" at the Global Impact Economy Forum this year.
Lakshmi Pratury, who I first met in the early days of TED, then stepped onto the stage to share her magic as a natural storyteller, using humor, authenticity and life examples in her tales on India and inspiration.
Lakshmi is the Founder of INKTalks, the INK Conference and Ixoraa Media, whose mission is to strengthen the ties between United States and India through sponsored corporate, cultural, and media events.
She says of her time spent in America, "the one thing I learned from my time in America is how to tell a story." And let's be honest, all great stories ignite emotion through shared resonance and reflection, which is something Lakshmi does so well.
She says: "what we are is who we focus on feeding and the community we build around us - it's never about us individually." Hear Hear.
Lakshmi talked on the early days of India before the economy took off, which frankly is the only India I know. My first and only visit was in 1989 and rest assured, it is a very different country today.
Says Lakshmi of the perception of India, then and now, which is one of the things that led her to start the INK Conference: "the way people describe India from inside out has always been one dimensional, so I felt we needed to bring the depth and complexity of Indian culture to the world."
The notion of diving in even if you don't have the experience, is not only a great message to all girls and women, but to every and anyone who has an idea. "Every time I say I'm going to do something without really knowing how to do it, it just happens," she says. "You always have to remember that whatever you do or embrace, you don't have to do it alone."
Like me, she is a collector of people, and says that "collecting people IS HER passion." How wonderful is that? Connecting those human dots isn't a bad way to spend your life. Extraordinary things always happen as a result, like the work she is doing in India.
Wearing bright pink/red shoes and a necklace made from a 3D printer, she connected with the audience with her own great storytelling.
Ping describes herself as an artist and a scientist whose chosen expression is business. It's in her bio and it's something she says often in her presentations.
She co-founded Geomagic, a leading US software company which pioneers 3D technologies that fundamentally change the way products are designed and manufactured around the world...from repairing vintage cars at Jay Leno's garage to preserving US treasures and digitally recreating the Statue of Liberty.
Another woman who has faced challenges and adversity, she has shown that staying close to your passion and not giving up works if you believe in what you're doing. She is known for her work with geometry processing, and computer graphics as well as her time as a writer for The China Times.
Inspirational on and off the stage, she has spent many years lecturing on such subjects as feminism, cultural criticism, and was news commentary at National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts, also serving as ambassador at large for Taiwan for a few years.
While we're on the topic of inspiration and female role models, it doesn't get much better than Amy Purdy who lost both her legs to Neisseria meningitis, a form of bacterial meningitis, at the age of 19.
As a double amputee, competitive snowboarder and spokesperson for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, she talks to people around the globe about her experience and overcoming life obstacles in order to reach your life dreams and goals, regardless of what is thrown your way.
Amy has played a runway model in a music video for Madonna, taken on a role in an independent film and has modeled for a number of photography projects.
She says to the audience, "When you face adversity and rough patches of trying to fit in, ask yourself what defines normalcy, beauty and what defines you? Embracing your uniqueness whatever that is turns your life from ordinary to extraordinary." Hear hear Amy. You were truly an inspiration to watch and meet.
Hannah Chung is the co-founder and force behind Jerry the Bear, a stuffed bear that helps children learn how to manage their diabetes. Inspired to help children, she says she is never looking back and laughs as she shows us a photo of her in a stuffed bear costume.
"I'm happy to wear a bear costume for years to come if it means making an impact on kid's lives," she tells us.
When Jerry’s eyelids close, he is showing that he is low in energy, until he is fed certain foods or given a pretend insulin injection which then boost his glucose levels. The results are shown on a little screen that is implanted into Jerry's belly.
Hannah’s father and grandparents have Type II diabetes and after her grandfather passed away from hypoglycemia, she was inspired to make a difference by helping others manage diabetes as effectively as possible.
Kudos to the Singularity University and Women@TheFrontier teams for pulling off an incredibly inspirational and moving event with a group of remarkable, dynamic women.
I look forward to future events they plan to host in other cities around the U.S.
Below is the video of Amy and Ray Kurzweil in a fireside chat:
Photo credit of Laskshmi taken in Munich: Nadine Rupp/Getty Images Europe. Hannah: From the Mccormick.northwestern.edu site. Amy Purdy and Legs: AmberB Photography. All other photos: Renee Blodgett.
October 01, 2010
Acumen Fellows Program Applications OpenThe Acumen Fellows Program is now accepting applications for 2011 and 2012.
The Acumen Fellowship is a one year program that immerses Fellows in world-class leadership training, field work with social enterprises on the front lines, and a community of change makers and thought leaders.
For 2011, they received over 550 applications from over 65 different countries for 10 positions. While each Fellow comes from a diverse background and brings a unique skill set to the Fellowship, below are some key indicators of a successful Fellow:
* Proven track record of leadership and management responsibilities
* Experience working in emerging markets
* Unrelenting perseverance, personal integrity, and critical thinking skills
* Strong passion and commitment
* 3-7 years of work experience
* Graduate degree preferred
Below is a synopsis of some of the fellows and what they have done and where.
October 1, 2010 in America The Free, Europe, Israel, On Africa, On Australia, On Being Green, On Education, On Health, On Innovation, On Science, On Technology, On the Future, Science, Videos, WBTW | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack
September 03, 2010
Steve Mann on Virtual Reality and Cyborg Living
University of Toronto professor Steve Mann talks about surveillance and corruption and virtual reality on stage at the Singularity Summit in San Francisco recently. Steve is a pioneer in the study and practice of virtual reality and has been dubbed the world's first cyborg. His book on cyborg living dives into his work in more depth: Cyborg: Digital Destiny and Human Possibility in the Age of the Wearable Computer.
After his presentation, Mann shows a blind woman how to use the Hydraulophone below - an instrument that merges the organ with water with string instruments with really great design. He also plays House of the Rising Sun for her on the Hydraulophone. Listen for the trickling water which is now part of the song.
August 05, 2010
San Francisco's Singularity Summit: August 14-15The Singularity Summit, the premier dialog on the Singularity is coming to San Francisco August 14-15, 2010. Now in its fourth year, it started in 2006 with a mission to further the understanding and discussion about the Singularity concept and the future of human technological progress.
With growing interest, attendees and speakers, the once day long event is now a full weekend with lots of stimulating content for those interested in innovation, humanity, technology and the future.
The first day starts with a discussion of the past theory of human evolution, its relationship to scientific method and the analogy between the thinking process that generated evolution and the one that led to specific expectations of Singularity.
Dr. Gregory Stock will talk about critical considerations regarding mankind’s evolutionary trajectory and destination, followed by Ray Kurzweil sharing his vision of the future of artificial intelligence and of mankind’s fusion with machines. Other speakers include: Dr. Srinivasan, Dr. Litt, Demis Hassabis, Dr. Sejnowski and Dr. Bray, who will discuss how close we are to understanding the brain. Dr. Sejnowski argues that we are very close to doing so while Dr. Bray believes that we are still far from fully understanding biological systems, not to mention the brain.
The second day will focus on how information and biotechnologies can be used to overcome the major health and environmental problems we face today, defeat many kinds of scarcity and generally heal the world. Eliezer Yudkowsky will discuss how the ethical philosophy supports the common sense conclusion that ‘of course we should make life better’ against the unconsidered protests of capricious moralists. Ramez Naam will share a vision for overcoming social and ecological problems with very conservative biotechnological capabilities.
Dr. Becker, Dr. Heber-Katz and Dr. Goel will share their research on fixing medical problems: death, injury and pathology respectively. Evolutionary psychology founder Dr. John Tooby will explore the idea of general intelligence through the lens of understanding narrow evolved intelligences, and a panel will explore how narrow and general intelligences relate. Among many others, they also have James Randi lined up who will address the practical need to rely on your own intelligence and critical thinking abilities in order to make sense of expert consensus and to build a realistic understanding of the world.
If on the west coast or looking for an excuse to jump on a plane for this exciting two day event, here are the details: It's in San Francisco on August 14-15th and you can register here.
May 14, 2010
Tony Hsieh on Sustainable Happiness: Part IZappos' Tony Hsieh spoke at the VatorSplash event in San Francisco last night, recapping some of Zappos' history, lessons learned, as well as some of the highlights from his new book: Delivering Happiness. I got an early copy at SXSW so will post a book review on it soon.
He asks us: how do you create stories and memorable experiences for your customers? Remember that Zappos' corporate culture is centered around customer service and their employees walk, talk and breathe outstanding customer service - a 365 day return policy and a commitment to the phone regardless of how long it takes when the majority of their sales are from the web, are just two examples.
"The telephone is one of the most powerful branding tools," says Tony. And for most of us who used to sell, pitch and engage on the phone, we don't anymore. We now use social media tools, such as Twitter, IM, email and Facebook to get in touch with people we already know or need to know. If you can get someone on the phone however, you have their undivided attention. Most call centers have scripts but Zappos doesn't believe in scripts, since it's more important for them to let their employees' personalities shine. Ask yourself - what do customers expect from you AND what do they actually experience?
"If you get the culture right," adds Tony, "branding and customer service will naturally happen on its own. Customer service shouldn't be about a department, it should translate to the whole company."
People often say he's lucky but he's quick to remind that they had uphill battles along the way and Zappos' success didn't happen overnight. Ten years later, they may be a household name, but it didn't start that way. As for luck, Tony says its about 'looking for opportunities beyond what you naturally see.'
They also have a commitment to transparency, a core trait of a great company versus a 'good one.' He refers to Jim Collins' book Good to Great, where he pulls out some of the qualities that create greatness. He encourages entrepreneurs to figure out what your core values are, commit to them, and get aligned with them. And, don't just stop there - make sure you hire people who fit with those core values, whether it's great customer service, simple product design or experiencing 'fun.'
"Don't chase the paper," he echoes. "Chase the vision, chase your dream....and money will naturally follow. There's a big difference between motivation and inspiration. Make sure you have a higher purpose." He says that his only regret if he had to do it all over again was not having a core set of values in place for the company earlier. If you have passion, you're following your vision and your dream AND your company has alignment with those core values, all of it WILL extend to your employees, your partners and your customers.
Types of Happiness:
a - Rock Star happiness (chasing the high). This is obviously the shortest lived.
b - Flow (engagement - time flies - being in the zone). This is the second longest lasting form of happiness.
c - Meaning & Higher Purpose (being part of something bigger than yourself). This obviously is the most sustainable form of happiness.
Below is Part I of the video I shot of Tony's talk from last night's event.
May 12, 2010
Video from ICRA in Anchorage, AlaskaPreview the video below from this year's International Conference on Robotics & Automation in Anchorage, Alaska.
April 12, 2010
2012: Time for Change - Psyche & Spirit the New Cutting Edge?San Francisco's Landmark Theatre showed an early screening last night of 2012: Time for Change, which is a new film directed by Emmy Award nominee Joao Amorim. It follows journalist Daniel Pinchbeck's quest for a new paradigm that integrates the wisdom of tribal cultures with new scientific methods.
From the movie, their suggestion is that "as conscious agents of evolution, we can redesign post-industrial society on ecological principles to make a better world, one which works for all of us. 2012 heralds the birth of a regenerative planetary culture where collaboration replaces competition, where exploration of psyche and spirit becomes the new cutting edge." No grave surprise that this hit San Francisco early.
Below is a teaser from Amorim.
Following the film screening, there was an after party at Sera Phi Lounge on Howard Street, which was facelifted for the event; additional neon lights set the mood for philosophical, tribal and scientific chatter in both a hip and hippie environment. Below, the short video footage will give you an idea of the background design and the music in motion.
My first dialogue was with an astrologer and musician, my second with an anthropologist who develops programs using 'design thinking' for Fortune 500 companies, the third with the founder of a Solar start-up and the fourth with a Burning Man enthusiast and horiculturalist. When I told someone I was a 'rainmaker,' I was asked how and what methods I used, which quickly led to a discussion on Shamanism. Lesson 101: always know your audience before you choose your language :-).