Category Archives: Experimental Challenges

Now Is the Greatest Time to Be Alive

I’ve been off grid the last few months working on a few projects which I’ll talk about in future posts. But something caught my eye this last week which I wanted to share in its entirety.
Last week President Obama published an article in Wired magazine titled, “Now is the greatest time to be alive.”

What he wrote ignoring the political sentiment kind of sums up what I’m trying to propel here in my blog, I feel obligated to share what he wrote, as it’s superbly written.

I find it refreshing and inspiring to have one of our great world leaders who understands and embraces science and technology express his views in such a noble manner.

 

“Now Is the Greatest Time to Be Alive”President Obama
By President Obama

We are far better equipped to take on the challenges we face than ever before. I know that might sound at odds with what we see and hear these days in the cacophony of cable news and social media. But the next time you’re bombarded with over-the-top claims about how our country is doomed or the world is coming apart at the seams, brush off the cynics and fear mongers.

Because the truth is, if you had to choose any time in the course of human history to be alive, you’d choose this one. Right here in America, right now.

Let’s start with the big picture. By almost every measure, this country is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, 30 years ago, or even eight years ago. Leave aside the sepia tones of the 1950s, a time when women, minorities, and people with disabilities were shut out of huge parts of American life. Just since 1983, when I finished college, things like crime rates, teen pregnancy rates, and poverty rates are all down.

Life expectancy is up. The share of Americans with a college education is up too. Tens of millions of Americans recently gained the security of health insurance. Blacks and Latinos have risen up the ranks to lead our businesses and communities. Women are a larger part of our workforce and are earning more money. Once-quiet factories are alive again, with assembly lines churning out the components of a clean-energy age.

And just as America has gotten better, so has the world. More countries know democracy. More kids are going to school. A smaller share of humans know chronic hunger or live in extreme poverty. In nearly two-dozen countries—including our own—people now have the freedom to marry whomever they love. And last year the nations of the world joined together to forge the most comprehensive agreement to battle climate change in human history.”

This kind of progress hasn’t happened on its own. It happened because people organized and voted for better prospects; because leaders enacted smart, forward-looking policies; because people’s perspectives opened up, and with them, societies did too.

But this progress also happened because we scienced the heck out of our challenges. Science is how we were able to combat acid rain and the AIDS epidemic. Technology is what allowed us to communicate across oceans and empathize with one another when a wall came down in Berlin or a TV personality came out. Without Norman Borlaug’s wheat, we could not feed the world’s hungry. Without Grace Hopper’s code, we might still be analyzing data with pencil and paper.

That’s one reason why I’m so optimistic about the future: the constant churn of scientific progress. Think about the changes we’ve seen just during my presidency. When I came into office, I broke new ground by pecking away at a BlackBerry. Today I read my briefings on an iPad and explore national parks through a virtual-reality headset. Who knows what kind of changes are in store for our next president and the ones who follow?

Because the truth is, while we’ve made great progress, there’s no shortage of challenges ahead: Climate change. Economic inequality. Cybersecurity. Terrorism and gun violence. Cancer, Alzheimer’s, and antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Just as in the past, to clear these hurdles we’re going to need everyone—policy makers and community leaders, teachers and workers and grassroots activists, presidents and soon-to-be-former presidents.

And to accelerate that change, we need science. We need researchers and academics and engineers; programmers, surgeons, and botanists. And most important, we need not only the folks at MIT or Stanford or the NIH but also the mom in West Virginia tinkering with a 3-D printer, the girl on the South Side of Chicago learning to code, the dreamer in San Antonio seeking investors for his new app, the dad in North Dakota learning new skills so he can help lead the green revolution.

That’s how we will overcome the challenges we face: by unleashing the power of all of us for all of us. Not just for those of us who are fortunate, but for everybody. That means creating not just a quicker way to deliver takeout downtown but also a system that distributes excess produce to communities where too many kids go to bed hungry. Not just inventing a service that fills your car with gas but also creating cars that don’t need fossil fuels at all. Not just making our social networks more fun for sharing memes but also harnessing their power to counter terrorist ideologies and online hate speech.

The point is: we need today’s big thinkers thinking big. Think like you did when you were watching Star Trek or Star Wars or Inspector Gadget. Think like the kids I meet every year at the White House Science Fair. We started this event in 2010 with a simple premise: We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated but the winner of the science fair.

We must continue to nurture our children’s curiosity. We must keep funding scientific, technological, and medical research. And above all, we must embrace that quintessentially American compulsion to race for new frontiers and push the boundaries of what’s possible. If we do, I’m hopeful that tomorrow’s Americans will be able to look back at what we did—the diseases we conquered, the social problems we solved, the planet we protected for them—and when they see all that, they’ll plainly see that theirs is the best time to be alive. And then they’ll take a page from our book and write the next great chapter in our American story, emboldened to keep going where no one has gone before.

 

To the next

 

Steve

100 Years of Age – Will be the new 60

As Technology has gathered pace this last 20 years ….Do you ever stop to consider that it’s kinda weird that we can now order a take away from our mobiles and yet no one can figure out how to stop (or at least reduce) the inevitable march towards death? Well, you’re not alone.

Science has been trying to figure out this whole ageing thing for a long time now, and a new development just could be one of those landmark moments in science history. According to recent reports, a new anti-ageing drug is going to be tested on human subjects starting next year. The potential result of this could mean that we, human beings, could extend our life spans to 120 years of age and be in good health to the very end.

The drug in question is a widely used diabetes pill called Metformin and costs mere pennies to make. Metformin helps to increase oxygen flow on a cellular level, thereby slowing the necessary cell divisions that keep our bodies both functioning correctly but ultimately lead to aging.

Belgian researchers have tested the drug on roundworms, and have had positive results so the next step is to do a human trial.

“I have been doing research into ageing for 25 years and the idea that we would be talking about a clinical trial in humans for an anti-ageing drug would have been thought inconceivable,” says ageing expert Professor Gordon Lithgow.

“But there is every reason to believe it’s possible. The future is taking the biology that we’ve now developed and applying it to humans.”

Imagine that… 100 will be truly the new 60 . Human longevity will be the new buzzword.

To your good health, living longer and immortal insight.

Steve

How to Fight Your Ageing Mind

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have taken skin cells from donors of different ages and transformed them into brain cells that reflect their donors’ ages. This is the first time researchers have been able to create ageing human brain cells from older people’s skin cells rather than from old brains.

The results will not only advance research into ageing, but could aid in the continued quest to create new cells to repair or replace damaged organs.

The new findings address a major problem in this field. There are several ways to force cells to switch from one type to another, but scientists haven’t been sure how the neurons made from a skin cell differ from the neurons that develop normally in people’s brains. The earliest method for reprogramming cells set the ageing clock back to zero, because the skin cells first had to be turned into a type of stem cell similar to those in early embryos. This newer technique, first developed at Stanford University, in which a series of biochemical tweaks switched skin cells directly into brain cells.

This age-specific brain cell testing holds the keys to understanding how human neurons age — and how we can reverse the effects of ageing and eradicate diseases like ALS , Alzheimer’s & Parkinsons. Expansions of this cell-transforming technique might enable us to produce organoids  which are even more realistic three-dimensional models of human organs.

Imagine being able to rejuvenate your mind regardless of age and stay as mentally sharp as your younger colleagues.

To you all keeping your marbles well into your twilight years.

Steve

Most jobs automated in 500 years

In 500 years less than 10 percent of people on the planet will be doing paid work.

Thats a prediction by Venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson who discusses the future of automation. Among his visions is that 90 percent of people will be unemployed in 500 years, thanks to automation; instead of doing busy work or a “physically repetitive thing for a living,” we’ll be involved in information or entertainment. … There will be no farmers, there will be no people working in manufacturing anymore.

As mentioned in my previous post ….Everything about Uber has been automated except for the driver. The billing, the fetching—every part of it is a modern, information-centric company. Interestingly, what that means is as soon as automated vehicles arrive, that driver is easily removed. You don’t have to restructure any part of that business.

What you’re farming out to humans today are those things that computers just barely can’t do. We know from Moore’s Law and improvements in computing that in two or three years [much of this] work will be automated. If a startup or new business venture has created a job that involves human labour, it probably has done so in a way that is pretty marginal. Whether you’re a technology enthusiast or a detractor, the rate at which this will shift is probably going to be unprecedented. There will be massive dislocation.

“It pretty much will be what life was like for most of human history—just without the gruesome servitude. The concept of a “job” is pretty recent. If you go back a few hundred years, everyone was either a slave or a serf, or living off slave or serf labor to pursue science or philosophy or art. We’ll live off the production of robots, free to be the next Aristotle or Plato or Newton,” he explained. “Unless we’re miserable without doing busy work.”

Whilst this is not going to effect us in the short term  it’s importance is a fundamental consideration for the progressive idea generators out there; The long term players creating the next wave that will shift society as we know it to the next level: A well-informed innovator with an abundance-focused approach to the effects of increasing automation and the future of work. Jurvetson also underscores the importance of finding and funding these entrepreneurs who are thinking big and solving global problems — despite their inherent risk.

 

If you would like to add a comment on how you forsee the future job market; please sign up and drop me a line.

To you traversing your next idea

 

Steve

 

Are you a “Disruptive Talent” – How to Challenge the Norm

During my long career in the commercial world ..I’ve always felt a bit of a square peg in a round hole. And may have come across to me colleagues as a bit of a maverick that doesn’t toe the party line & play corporate politics. Maybe that’s why I experienced a few redundancies along the way as I was deemed too dangerous for the business. Maybe I was born in the wrong era or just joined the wrong companies as doing things differently just was’nt the done thing! . …I succeeded anyhow!

But now there seems to be many square pegs that have bucked the system and have succeeded in their quest to “do things differently ” But not only that, the system ( ie the so called commercial world ) has come to respect and embrace these game changers as HR departments encourage the flow of talent as part of the employee mix.

“The term disruptive talent is an interesting rebranding of people with an identifiable character, people who we have all been working with for many years to try to help them better understand the impact they have on others,” says Mr Duff, who is a partner at UK business psychology consultancy Pearn Kandola.

“We do a lot of coaching people like this, people who are very bright in a particular role, very inventive and creative, but who have no chance of fitting into the wider culture of the business. How ironic!

“As a result, other people in the organisation cannot cope with the amount of antagonism and disruption they bring with them. That is why people who you can classify as disruptive talent tend to instead start their own businesses.”

Sir Richard Branson, who has an estimated net worth of £3bn ($4.5bn) has certainly thrived running his own businesses and is a classic example of a disruptive talent that has broken through red tape & politics.

He says: “I think anyone who sets up a business is to an extent a disruptive individual, because starting a business is simply someone thinking ‘I can do it better than anybody else, and I know how to do it’.

“For that idea to succeed you have to be doing it in a disruptive way, otherwise you’re just doing the same as everyone else and you are going to fail.

“When I came up with the idea of starting my airline and space company, people gave me every reason why I shouldn’t do it. In the end you have to be a leader, you have to give it a go.”

This belief in your own idea and that burning desire in your gut that tells you that you need to do this ; is one example of being disruptive; challenging the norm & ignoring the naysayers.

Carving out your own path completely blinkered to others criticism and ignorance is part of the challenge we all face in life. But its the hard part that makes it good. Being a maverick is cool and looking for new answers to do things better is what builds your character and allows you stand out from the crowd.  Too many times, when leaders think deeply about a problem or challenge, they are merely doing what they have been socialized( ie fitting in) to believe is the right way to think about a problem or process, and it is very difficult to break this habit. All great business innovations and inventions in history have come from people who have not bought into this logic. Consider Steve Jobs. Who would have thought that a computer could have color? Or graphics? Or be a piece of furniture or art? We need to be conscious of our surrounding culture and be able to step out of it so we can produce original thinking.

Another great example is  take a look at the success of Amazon. They fundamentally deconstructed the traditional relationship between a reader and an author, but kept its essence in place; the author writes a book and the reader buys the book. What was fundamentally restructured was how these two events occurred. Gone was the bricks n mortar  bookstore to be replaced by an electronic one; traditional stock was replaced by one of the most efficient just-in-time supply chains imaginable. Then they followed that by restructuring the traditional physical book into an electronic platform that cut down on the weight and exponentially increased the number of books that could be purchased and carried efficiently by a reader. This sort of fundamental deconstruction and reconstruction is possible in every business sector; it simply takes a different way of thinking.

Share this post with your friends, especially if they are interested in any of the areas outlined above as this is the stuff I want to discuss.

 

To your success

 

Steve