Arts & Culture Techonomy Events

Ross Reflections: Looking Towards Detroit, and Some Amazing Bio/Artist/Designers

Our Techonomy 2015 conference has the theme "Rehumanizing Society." (Image via Shutterstock)

It’s been a busy couple of weeks as we continue to fine-tune the program for September’s Techonomy Detroit. If you’re in Detroit September 15 you should stop by—we’ll be interviewing Mark Bertolini, the refreshing, bead wearing, yogi-like CEO of Aetna. We’ll also be interviewing Carl Bass, the wood carving, boat- and furniture-making CEO of Autodesk. Tiana Epps-Johnson, Executive Director of The Center for Technology and Civic Life, will present on “Civic Tech and the New Digital Divide,” longtime tech entrepreneur and thinker Peter Hirshberg will present on “A Maker City Is a Jazz City,” and "Edge" theorist John Hagel will talk about how companies and cities are successfully “Learning from Movements.”   More

Bio & Life Sciences

No Longer Rocket Science: Helping Consumers Understand Genetic Info

At the first Map-Ed competition. Photo via pgEd.org

A decade ago, biologist Ting Wu saw a need to promote education and interest in genetics among consumers, as well as to help scientists understand how the public views their research. Today, the initiative that resulted helps teachers and students, scientists, Congress, and even Hollywood writers and producers understand and spread the message that genetics is important and accessible.   More

Media & Marketing Society

Why Donald’s Reality Trumps the News

Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

Experts across the political spectrum profess to be mystified by the skyrocketing Trump campaign. Politico recently published a piece with predictions from 16 of them about how the straw-topped candidate's efforts will end. One who sounded on target was Mary Matalin, the longstanding Republican strategist, who professed her admiration for Trump's "authenticity." That's part of what I think has thrust this reality show into the forefront of American politics.   More

Business Opinion

My Advice to Jack Dorsey

Anthony Correia / Shutterstock.com

What is the future of Twitter? With the departure of former CEO Dick Costolo and recent declines in the company's stock valuation, many users and investors are asking. Co-founder and now interim CEO Jack Dorsey is right to focus on the mass market now that the service so successfully has leaders like journalists and politicians on board. He seems to recognize that the dynamics of what drives these audiences are different. Yet Twitter’s power to create more influencers every day is a powerful basis upon which to build, in a culture where everyone has the potential to give voice to their thoughts. Tapping into this desire as a means to pull the mainstream, intelligently and responsibly, is not just a smart move but a necessary one as the world navigates an always-on sharing culture.   More

Security & Privacy

Despite Controversy, Creative Startups Seek Completely Secure Communications

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The market for secure private communications—encrypted messaging—is exploding. And with an estimated 70 trillion consumer and business messages expected globally by 2018, a bunch of New York startups want to “manage” the messaging process—to find ways to make messages secure and private. Federal agencies want secure networks to prevent the massive cyber attacks they have been plagued by. Large corporations embarrassed by disclosures such as Sony’s want enterprise-wide security. But they also want access to individual communications as part of their overall plan to mine and monetize user data. Meanwhile, and controversially, the NSA wants “back door” access to all communications, ostensibly to monitor terrorism and oversee national security.   More

Finance

Shanghai Street View: Wealth Explosion

(Image via Shutterstock)

In the last two months alone, at least three wealth management shops have opened up in my neighborhood, often in spaces that were vacant for years or inhabited by struggling businesses. And my neighborhood in Hongkou District is quite ordinary, which means Shanghai’s trendier areas have undoubtedly been hit by the same scourge of wealth management shops. More broadly, this sudden explosion looks a lot like the kind of boom-bust pattern you often see in China, be it in our stock markets or the latest business trends. On the retail scene, I’ve written about similar booms in convenience stores and coffee shops, which both occurred quite rapidly and created huge supply gluts.   More

Cities Internet of Things

Build It and They Will Drive

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The University of Michigan and nearly 50 industry partners including Ford, General Motors, Qualcomm, State Farm Insurance, Toyota, Verizon, and others are betting that if you build it, self-driving cars will come. That take on the classic line from Field of Dreams applies to a gigantic new facility for proving, testing, and promoting such cars. Or, as the facility’s creators put it on their website, “the foundations of a commercially viable ecosystem of connected and automated vehicles for moving people and goods.” The new 32-acre facility, called Mcity, opened this week in Ann Arbor and will serve as an auto industry ecosystem for use by anyone researching autonomous vehicles.   More

Analytics & Data Healthcare

Why I’m So Excited About Watson, IBM’s Answer “Man”

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When Ginni Rometty recently explained to Charlie Rose that she and her team were “reinventing IBM using data, the cloud, and mobility,” it began to sound like clients would soon be able to subscribe to the company's much-promoted Watson artificial intelligence service for solutions to the world’s most difficult and complicated problems. Four thousand companies are now in line to subscribe to Watson Health, and it’s easy to understand why. Watson is said to have the power to learn about everything going on in the world about cancer and, based on all that knowledge, recommend customized treatments.   More

Analytics & Data Healthcare

How Big Data Can Make People Healthier in Emerging Markets

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In many emerging markets, reliable data on healthcare systems is limited or nonexistent. This makes it difficult to address urgent healthcare challenges in some of the world’s least developed countries. But a growing number of tech entrepreneurs and public health activists are finding ways to fill the data gaps. And as smartphones and other connected devices proliferate, fertile new sources of data are emerging.   More

Media & Marketing

Are Media Companies One Native Ad Away from Becoming Press-titutes?

From left: Indrajit Gupta, David Kirkpatrick, Maria Ressa, Marcus Brauchli. Photo by Josh Kampel.

When we were asked to participate in Omidyar’s “Future of Media in India” event, David Kirkpatrick and I both questioned what we could add on a topic that was pretty far from our own experience. In hindsight, we knew more than we gave ourselves credit for. The India market, it turns out, is not much different than that of the US, maybe just a couple of years behind. Publishers and journalists are eager to transition from print to digital, they are trying to figure out how to reach their readers in a mobile-first world, and they are struggling to find a sustainable business model to support their efforts.    More

Bio & Life Sciences Internet of Things

I Heart This Overlooked Feature of the Apple Watch

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One of the features that most intrigues me about the Apple Watch is the one that lets you share heartbeats. It’s the sound you hear when you’re being held by someone you love. It’s something that encapsulates our humanity. It’s one of the first ways an expectant mother connects with her child—the fetal heartbeat heard via ultrasound. This little feature has been overlooked in many of the product reviews. I am fascinated by a technological connection that fosters intimacy between two people physically regardless of where they are. Unlike FaceTime or Skype, which replicate a lesser version of someone’s visual presence, sharing a heartbeat pioneers a new realm of digital intimacy that links our bodies and our devices in a new dance of tactile connectivity.   More

Analytics & Data

The Hardest Thing to Do in Sport

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The human brain and big data; our understanding and application of both are growing in scope and impact thanks to the increasing potential and power of tech. One of the areas they’re increasingly coming together, however, might surprise you. Jordan Muraskin and Jason Sherwin are two of a growing group bringing the science of mental analytics to professional sports and, more precisely, baseball. Over the years, managers, players, and front-office personnel have collected reams of information on hitters and pitchers, trying to mix together the secret sauce that would solve this vexing conundrum.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Challenges for Genomics in the Age of Big Data

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Last week, a group of respected researchers published a commentary about the coming data challenges in genomics. Comparing the projected growth of genomic data to three other sources considered among the most prolific data producers in the world—astronomy, Twitter, and YouTube—these scientists predict that by 2025, genomics could well represent the biggest of big data fields. With the raw data for each human genome taking up about 100 GB, we’re well on our way. Genomics only recently entered the big data realm, and we have major issues to address before it leapfrogs every other data-generating group.   More

Arts & Culture

With a 3D-printed Instrument, This Musician Is Composing the Future

Onyx Ashanti performing with his exo-voice.

Often, it begins in the dark. When the LEDs light up—in red, yellow, blue, green, and purple—the face inside the mask becomes faintly perceptible. But before the gathering crowd can identify the man, the music comes on. It comes in swells and ribbons. It comes as a devouring chaos, as a frenetic torrent of notes and phrases, looping back into new motifs of sound. Onyx Ashanti invented the instrument he plays, which he calls the exo-voice. He also printed it with a 3D printer he built himself.   More

Global Tech Startup Culture

Forget Bubble Talk—Beirut Tech Is Accelerating

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Recently called "the Silicon Valley of the Middle East" by CNN, and "the Middle East’s Tech Hub" by TechCrunch, Beirut’s tech scene is the darling of international media of late. (Though Techonomy first wrote about it over two years ago.) The tech scene here has turned a corner, going from fledgling to now officially on the map. Among the reasons: the launch of various funds that will bring over $100 million in investments to Lebanon’s startup economy over the next five years, and the ongoing efforts of Lebanon’s Central Bank to decrease the risk of investing in startups. But now three new companies that specifically aim to foster tech startups are setting up. Two of them are accelerators, and one will invest and nurture slightly more mature companies. In a city of 2.2 million, some are wondering, is this a bubble? And if so, when will it burst?   More

Cities Techonomy Events

Reflections from Ross: I Love Cities, and Our Upcoming Techonomy Detroit

The Detroit skyline. (Image via Shutterstock)

I spent the long weekend in the Rocky Mountains surrounded by a bunch of very smart people, from many walks of life. It was a bit of a schlep to get to, but perhaps there’s something about the mountain air that clarifies one's thoughts. It certainly gave me ideas for our remaining Techonomy programs this year. The mountains also reinforced my affinity for cities and anything related to them. I appreciate the great outdoors, which in turn makes me appreciate cities even more. There’s little that beats seeing the Manhattan skyline after a few days away. Speaking of cities ... our FOURTH Techonomy Detroit is coming up September 15.   More

E-Commerce Mobile

My Independence Day: No Wallet, No Cash, No Credit, No Lunch

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It was one of those days. ... Monday morning after a long weekend and I was rushing to get out the door to make a 9 am meeting. I got in my car, drove to the train station, and realized I had left my wallet at home. I paused for a second and decided I would attempt to brave the day with no ID, no cash, and no credit cards. Although it's not as ambitious as living for a day on Bitcoin, I figured I could take advantage of the investments made by Apple, Google, PayPal, and others into the mobile payments ecosystem. Armed with my Android phone, I set out to see how easy it would be to have independence from my wallet. Fortunately for my experiment, I switched a few weeks ago from Windows Mobile, where my options would have been even more limited.   More

Business Healthcare

Vitals Aims to Be the Priceline of American Healthcare

(Image via Vitals)

Entrepreneur Mitch Rothschild says he has always followed a simple philosophy: Determine where a gap exists and launch a business to fill it. He thought information was seriously lacking in healthcare, for both patients and service providers. So he founded Vitals in 2007 to offer a suite of information and analytics tools to help consumers, providers, and health plans better track healthcare prices and quality. Today he serves as the company's executive chairman. Each month, some of Vitals' 10 million users perform 250,000 searches at Vitals.com, seeking information about the U.S. healthcare system, where they can browse 5 million user reviews of about 890,000 medical practitioners. In simple terms, Vitals hopes to be a Priceline of sorts for an industry in which costs can be opaque and consumers often feel powerless.   More

Government

Government Infecting Itself with Entrepreneurial Spirit

(Image via HHS Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program)

One of the many phrases with which we’ve all become familiar, certainly if we live or spend any time around Washington, is that government needs to operate more like a business. And while that’s an overly simplistic aphorism that doesn’t take into account any number of things (are you familiar with the failure rate for most new businesses?!), most of the people who attended our first Techonomy Policy event last month in DC would agree that there are certainly any number of lessons government can learn from its corporate brethren. Enter the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) program. Started in 2012 by then-CTO of HHS, Todd Park, the program recruits external talent to partner with internal HHS teams on high-priority projects for about a year.   More

Internet of Things

Preparing Ourselves for a Fully-Automated Future

As technology forges ahead, more of our world is becoming automated, increasingly resembling the futuristic settings that were once only the domain of science fiction. This means a significant change in the way tomorrow’s innovators will design new products: it won’t just be a matter of human users interacting with objects, but also of objects interacting with their users. Moreover, many people have anxieties about robots and other “smart” objects—usually that they’ll gain sentience, turn evil, and try to exterminate the human race.   More