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10 billion people for dinner | Nina Fedoroff

10 billion people for dinner | Nina Fedoroff

 

The world population is estimated to reach 10 billion in the near future. How can we feed so many with our existing resources? Nina Fedoroff gives an overview of what’s needed, highlighting the important role that science has played in developing food and agriculture throughout human history and the solutions it could offer.
 
Nina Fedoroff’s research interests range from the biochemistry of microRNA processing and transposition to the design of greenhouses for hot, humid environments, although she is best known for her pioneering work on plant transposons. A PhD from Rockefeller University, she is an Evan Pugh Professor at Pennsylvania State University. A 2006 National Medal of Science laureate, she served as Science and Technology Adviser to the US Secretary of State and to USAID’s administrator.

When Genius and Insanity Hold Hands | Ondi Timoner

When Genius and Insanity Hold Hands | Ondi Timoner

 

The internet is a horror film starring all of us — will we step out of line and create something different? Ondi Timoner (two-time Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner) explores what happens when genius and insanity hold hands to create the impossible. In the future, 40% of jobs may be eliminated by technology — but were you working on your dream anyway?
 
Ondi Timoner has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice, for “Dig!” (2004) and “We Live in Public” (2009). She currently produces and hosts the only documentary talk show in the world, BYOD (Bring Your Own Doc), which has more than 150 episodes, and has created an online network for entrepreneurs, innovators and artists documenting the top thought-leaders and doers who use technology to disrupt old paradigms, called A Total Disruption.
 
Timoner has also directed numerous commercials for such clients as Ford, State Farm, the Clinton Foundation and many music videos for artists including Lucinda Williams, The Jonas Brothers, The Vines, OK Go and Fastball, which garnered her a Grammy nomination in 1998. She is a fellow of the Sundance Institute and the Tribeca All-Access Program, and has been a member of the Director’s Guild of America since 2006.

Creating Better Tomorrows: Joe Tankersley

Creating Better Tomorrows: Joe Tankersley

 

Watch Joe Tankersley, a Futurist, speak about how the “futures that we imagine can impact the futures we create.” 

Marco Annunziata: Welcome to the age of the industrial internet

Marco Annunziata: Welcome to the age of the industrial internet

marco annunziata

 

Everyone’s talking about the “Internet of Things,” but what exactly does that mean for our future? In this thoughtful talk, economist Marco Annunziata looks at how technology is transforming the industrial sector, creating machines that can see, feel, sense and react — so they can be operated far more efficiently. Think: airplane parts that send an alert when they need to be serviced, or wind turbines that communicate with one another to generate more electricity. It’s a future with exciting implications for us all.

The Chief Economist at General Electric, Marco Annunziata is a financial virtuoso with a passion for technology. 

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?

 

Marco Annunziata is the Chief Economist of General Electric, responsible for the global economic analysis that guides GE’s business strategy. A member of the European Central Bank’s Shadow Council and of the European Council of Economists, Annunziata has been featured on Bloomberg, CNBC, and in The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal.

 

Annunziata arrived at GE in 2011 with a long track record in the financial sector, previously working at Unicredit, Deutsche Bank and the International Monetary Fund, where he researched emerging markets and the Eurozone. Annunziata confesses that he is “childishly proud” of his first book, The Economics of the Financial Crisis (Palgrave MacMillan, 2011). The book traces the global fiscal crisis back to a failure of common sense, in which so many of us played a part, and offers guidance for learning the right lessons from the outcomes.

 

“Machines increasingly communicate among themselves and with people. Mobile devices allow round-the-clock interconnectivity. Computers crunch terabytes of data. Such innovations have convinced economists from GE’s Marco Annunziata to Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT that the stage is set for a wave of productivity gains to rival the 10-year Internet boom that began in 1995.” Bloomberg 

Frederic Kaplan: How I built an information time machine

Frederic Kaplan: How I built an information time machine

 

time machine

 

Imagine if you could surf Facebook … from the Middle Ages. Well, it may not be as far off as it sounds. In a fun and interesting talk, researcher and engineer Frederic Kaplan shows off the Venice Time Machine, a project to digitize 80 kilometers of books to create a historical and geographical simulation of Venice across 1000 years.

Frederic Kaplan seeks to digitize vast archives of historical information to make maps that move — through time.

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?

 

Frederic Kaplan is the Digital Humanities Chair at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the EPFL’s Digital Humanities Lab Director. Kaplan leads the lab in applying computation to humanities research. His latest project is the Venice Time Machine, a collaborative work archiving 80 kilometers of books from throughout 1000 years of Venetician history. The goal of the time machine is to create an information system which can be searched and mapped. Think of it as a Google Maps for time.

 

Kaplan holds a PhD in artificial intelligence from the University Paris VI. He lives in Switzerland.

 

 

Toby Eccles: Invest in social change

Toby Eccles: Invest in social change

toby eccles

 

Here’s a stat worth knowing: In the UK, 63% of men who finish short-term prison sentences are back inside within a year for another crime. Helping them stay outside involves job training, classes, therapy. And it would pay off handsomely — but the government can’t find the funds. Toby Eccles shares an imaginative idea for how to change that: the Social Impact Bond. It’s an unusual bond that helps fund initiatives with a social goal through private money — with the government paying back the investors (with interest) if the initiatives work.

Toby Eccles has created a radical financial instrument that helps private investors contribute to solving thorny public problems.

 

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?

 

All too often, an ex-inmate walks out of prison with the exact same problems he or she walked in with: lack of skills, lack of support, no job. And they end up re-offending and back in jail. It’s an expensive problem to fix, but it’s a much more expensive one to ignore. A director at Social Finance in London, Toby Eccles explores the arbitrage between those two options.

 

In 2010, his pioneering Social Impact Bond allowed private investors to support a UK program targeting ex-prisoners who served short sentences (the limited government funding only goes to ex-inmates who served long terms). The £5m scheme, funded by 17 investors, supports training and support for 1,000 ex-inmates; if they re-offend less than a control group, the government will pay investors back, plus interest, through the savings accrued by achieving the program’s targets.

 

More such bonds are now being tried across the world, including in New York City and Massachusetts (both addressing recidivism), and extended to new fields such as development. Eccles founded Social Finance in 2007, and he oversees all of the firm’s social impact bond work, where, he says: “We are incentivised to work with the complicated and with those willing to change.” “We are incentivised to work with the complicated and with those willing to change.”

 

Regeneration: Science Fiction or Reality: Voot Yin

Regeneration: Science Fiction or Reality: Voot Yin

 

How to change your future: Jeremy Hunter

How to change your future: Jeremy Hunter

 

 

Jeremy Hunter describes how we can change the future by focusing on attention and Mindfulness. Jeremy Hunter, Ph.D. is the great-grandson of a sumo wrestler as well as an Assistant Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker School of Management.

Abha Dawesar: Life in the “digital now”

Abha Dawesar: Life in the “digital now”

One year ago, Abha Dawesar was living in blacked-out Manhattan post-Sandy, scrounging for power to connect. As a novelist, she was struck by this metaphor: Have our lives now become fixated on the drive to digitally connect, while we miss out on what’s real?

Abha Dawesar writes to make sense of the world — herself included

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HER?

Abha Dawesar began her writing career as an attempt to understand herself — at age 7. It’s a goal that remains at the center of her work: Sensorium, her most recent novel,explores the nature of time, self, and uncertainty, using Hindu mythology and modern science as prisms. “At a very basic level, writing was always my way of apprehending the world,” she has said.

Dawesar moved from India to the United States to study at Harvard, and Delhi appears at the center of her novels Family Values and Babyji. But the oversimplified genres of immigrant fiction or ethnic fiction do not appeal to her. “Those looking for a constant South Asian theme or Diaspora theme or immigrant theme will just be disappointed in the long run from my work,” she has said. “The only label I can put up with is that of a writer. And my ideas come from everywhere.”

 

The risk of putting knowledge in the hands of machines

theatlantic:

All Can Be Lost: The Risk of Putting Our Knowledge in the Hands of Machines

On the evening of February 12, 2009, a Continental Connection commuter flight made its way through blustery weather between Newark, New Jersey, and Buffalo, New York. As is typical of commercial flights today, the pilots didn’t have all that much to do during the hour-long trip. The captain, Marvin Renslow, manned the controls briefly during takeoff, guiding the Bombardier Q400 turboprop into the air, then switched on the autopilot and let the software do the flying. He and his co-pilot, Rebecca Shaw, chatted—about their families, their careers, the personalities of air-traffic controllers—as the plane cruised uneventfully along its northwesterly route at 16,000 feet. The Q400 was well into its approach to the Buffalo airport, its landing gear down, its wing flaps out, when the pilot’s control yoke began to shudder noisily, a signal that the plane was losing lift and risked going into an aerodynamic stall. The autopilot disconnected, and the captain took over the controls. He reacted quickly, but he did precisely the wrong thing: he jerked back on the yoke, lifting the plane’s nose and reducing its airspeed, instead of pushing the yoke forward to gain velocity. Rather than preventing a stall, Renslow’s action caused one. The plane spun out of control, then plummeted. “We’re down,” the captain said, just before the Q400 slammed into a house in a Buffalo suburb.

The crash, which killed all 49 people on board as well as one person on the ground, should never have happened. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded that the cause of the accident was pilot error. The captain’s response to the stall warning, the investigators reported, “should have been automatic, but his improper flight control inputs were inconsistent with his training” and instead revealed “startle and confusion.” An executive from the company that operated the flight, the regional carrier Colgan Air, admitted that the pilots seemed to lack “situational awareness” as the emergency unfolded.

The Buffalo crash was not an isolated incident. An eerily similar disaster, with far more casualties, occurred a few months later. On the night of May 31, an Air France Airbus A330 took off from Rio de Janeiro, bound for Paris. The jumbo jet ran into a storm over the Atlantic about three hours after takeoff. Its air-speed sensors, coated with ice, began giving faulty readings, causing the autopilot to disengage. Bewildered, the pilot flying the plane, Pierre-Cédric Bonin, yanked back on the stick. The plane rose and a stall warning sounded, but he continued to pull back heedlessly. As the plane climbed sharply, it lost velocity. The airspeed sensors began working again, providing the crew with accurate numbers. Yet Bonin continued to slow the plane. The jet stalled and began to fall. If he had simply let go of the control, the A330 would likely have righted itself. But he didn’t. The plane dropped 35,000 feet in three minutes before hitting the ocean. All 228 passengers and crew members died.

Read more. [Image: Kyle Bean]