Issues surrounding gender, poverty, population growth, philanthropy, foreign aid and global health were addressed at this week’s Aspen Ideas Festival. A panel discussion titled “The Politics of Sex” was moderated by Monique Villa, CEO of Thomson Reuters Foundation, and featured Dr. Chris Elias of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Musimbi Kanyoro of the Global Fund for Women, and Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania. The conversation started on a harrowing note, the fact that 215 million women in the world are without contraception.
A common theme at this week’s Aspen Ideas Festival is how we’re going to utilize new forms of technology to make improvements in our society. The panel, “Will Technology Make Us Healthier?” took this notion and applied it to our well being. The session was moderated by Andrew McAfee of the Center of Digital Business at MIT, and included Eric Topol of the Scripps Translational Science Institute and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University.
Christakis began with a presentation about some of the work he’s doing with social networks. However, he was quick to point out that a lot his work involves real social networks, that of face to face interaction. He showed some visuals on the Hadza people, one of the last hunter/gatherer tribes in the world. They obviously aren’t using Facebook or Twitter, but a lot of the same principles of interaction can be tracked on a significantly smaller scale. These connections have propelled us into the era of passive data. And with this information, we can track major physician networks, hospital networks and more. Once these connections are established, decisions can be made on how to strategically manipulate them. An example he used was that of a network in the developing world, where you had to figure out how to make the greatest impact with a limited budget. By knowing the structure and flow, you could determine who should be targeted to have the greatest effect, usually the central people in the network. When it came to exploiting online network interactions, there were three factors to consider: (more…)
The festival’s second Thomson Reuters Knowledge Exchange event was titled “Cracking the Genetic Code,” and featured an excellent panel. Moderated by Chris Kibarian, president of our IP & Science business, the panel included Harvard professor John Quackenbush, Brian Fiske of the The Michael J. Fox Foundation, and Paul Rejto from Pfizer. The three panelists each brought a unique perspective to the discussion, and their varied expertise helped to turn complicated subject matter into something very easy to understand and enjoy.
The conversation started and revolved around the human genome, and the project to determine the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up DNA, as well as identifying the function of human genes. Professor Quackenbush almost poetically explained complicated scientific information so that it was easily comprehensible. He talked about the roadmap of the human genome and the new technologies that have contributed to the decreasing costs of identifying genes. He talked about a time in the very near future where the cost would become so low that we’d be able to generate huge amounts of data in an economically responsible manner. This data would then contribute to a better understanding about genetic factors contributing to risk of developing diseases and being able to develop more personalized care for serious illnesses. (more…)
This morning’s first session featured Thomson Reuters Digital Editor Chrystia Freeland interviewing Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and a member of the Cabinet.
The conversation started with the current state of the economy, and the polarization of the jobs market. Krueger stated that the economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month when President Obama came into office and the country was losing manufacturing jobs at an alarming rate even before the recession started.
This segued nicely into a discussion about China and the effect that Cina’s fast growing economy has had on US jobs. In the early 2000s, China began to compete with manufacturers in the US. Moving to the frontier of different technologies so quickly, this had a lasting affect on jobs being lost in the US. From 2000-2007, the US lost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs. (more…)
The Aspen Ideas Festival panel discussion “Will College Learning Be Influenced By Society” included Stanford Professor Andrew Ng and chief of staff to US Secretary of Education, Joanne Weiss. Moderated by NBC News Correspondent Rehema Ellis, the panel discussed how higher education is being influenced by changing technology.
The rising cost of higher education is becoming a major issue in the US. Joanne Weiss made the astonishing point that the cost of a college education has been rising at five times the median household income. This is simply not sustainable. So what’s the answer?
The first event that I attended at the Aspen Ideas Festival was titled “Exploring the Rational Middle: How Do We Stay There in the Natural Gas Debate?” The panel was a powerhouse of energy experts: Gregory Kallenberg, Alexis Karolides, Russ Ford, and Richard Newell, and moderated by Thomson Reuters Chrystia Freeland. The inspiration for the title of the session comes from The Rational Middle Energy Series, which is a series of short films created by the team that produced the acclaimed documentary, “Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for An Energy Future.” During the session, we previewed two of the series’ films, “What’s at Stake” and “The Great Transition”. They touched on subjects such as where American energy comes from, renewables and their miniscule representation of total energy consumption, how natural gas can play a role in renewable energy and how patience and innovation can make major changes in our energy future.
Although the title of the session mentioned natural gas, that topic wasn’t really discussed much until the end of the session. The beginning portion focused mainly on our current consumption environment and the role that renewable energy will play in the future. 2050 was the key year that kept coming up as a target date. Alexis Korolides talked about the importance of keeping consumption constant over the next 40 years. This could be done by increasing the use and efficiency of renewables. Richard Newell (described by the panel as an “energy stud”) and Russ Ford weren’t so optimistic about being able to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels by 2050. But an interesting point that Newell made was (more…)