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SNS Subscriber Edition • Volume 21, Issue 36 • Week of October 24, 2016


FiRe 2016
in Review

Part II



SNS: FiRe 2016 in Review, Part II

[Due to the size of this week's issue, please click here to download the fully formatted PDF.]


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In This Issue
Week of 10/24/2016    Vol. 21 Issue 36



FiRe 2016 in Review, Part II

                 ed., Sally Anderson


The Sessions: 9.29 - 9.30


Our 14th year of FiRe, held for the second year amid the peaks of the Wasatch Range of the Rockies, included new and ongoing friends from possibly our most varied - even disparate - areas ever, both geographically and by industry. And yet there seemed to be more shared interests and communal purpose than ever. 

Photo 2016 Sally Anderson

We came from 22 states in the US and 10 countries outside the US. Or 11, if being of another species counts as a "foreign land." But we like to think that is less and less the case with each passing year, in part because of the work we do here.

From flow economics to pattern computing, Earth and ocean flows to 3-D modeling, autonomous cars to inter-species communication, it's a lot to wrap one's head around. Invariably, even the most driven attendee misses a session or two; and many more SNS members haven't yet had the benefit of attending, or weren't able to rejoin us this year.

To fill in the blanks and keep the fires burning - because, after all, that's how change happens - we arranged for all sessions and breakouts to be covered by a tag team of bloggers.

At the head of this effort was Lead FiRe Event Blogger and Blog Manager Arunabh Satpathy, who not only blogged nonstop, but also taught, guided, and scheduled the rest of the volunteer team. At his side, as their very active MBA schedules and other FiRe duties allowed, were our four University of Utah FiReFellows, with deep thanks to Zions Banks for its sponsorship support of this valuable program: Shelby Cate, Melissa Dymock, Nick Fritz, and Chance Murray. Further invaluable support and enthusiasm for chronicling history in the making was provided by Evan Anderson, Cheryl Evans, and Berit Anderson.

The original blog posts have been re-edited and in some cases expanded for publication here, including added audio, photos, and speaker bios for each session, and other media links known at the time of publication. Please contact me directly at to correct any errors.

In the posts below, "official" FiRe Agenda titles are followed by the bloggers' personalized titles, when different. Speaker Bio links lead to SNS iNews profiles, where you'll also find any available related news articles featuring that speaker or his or her company.

Reminder to FiRe attendees: You can contact fellow participants (email addresses aren't exposed) via the FiRe Mailroom tab at the top of the homepage at This benefit is available to registered FiRe attendees only.  

Like FiRe itself, this review took many hands to craft. Thank you to each of you, for taking a chance, for finding optimism, for sharing your efforts, and for your daily contributions. - Sally Anderson


Photos 2016 by Kris Krüg / SNS Future in Review Conference Corp., unless otherwise noted. For information about use and purchase of KK's beautiful photos, please contact him at or by phone at 778-898-3076. See the full FiRe Gallery sets here, organized by year and half-day - and search by keyword to quickly find yourself, others, and topics of interest.


Thursday Morning, 9.29

Documentaries That Change the World: Meet the Directors

With Chris Hegedus, Director, Unlocking the Cage; Ted Richane, Engagement and Impact Director, Vulcan Productions (The Ivory Game); Adriana LaCorte, Director, Sniffing Out Cancer; and Geralyn Dreyfous, Co-Founder, Impact Partners Film Fund, Founder, Utah Film Center, and SNS Ambassador for Documentary Films

Hosted by Sharon Anderson Morris, SNS Programs Director
and SNS FiReFilms Managing Director

"Film as a change agent"
   by Arunabh Satpathy

SNS Programs Director and panel moderator Sharon Anderson Morris opened "Documentaries That Change the World: Meet the Directors" by introducing a series of high-impact directors and films. Discussion about the films themselves dovetailed with the motivations of the filmmakers.

Chris Hegedus is the director of the FiRe 2016 selected Featured Film, Unlocking the Cage, which follows the work of animal-rights advocate and attorney Steven M. Wise. But Hegedus opened by discussing her 2001 movie, describing entrepreneurs going into "the Wild West" of ideas and coming out rich. It follows the boom-and-bust cycle of the startup bubble around the turn of the century.

This was followed by the trailer for Unlocking the Cage, the story of Wise's attempts to see animals granted greater rights through a sustained litigation strategy.

"Unlocking the Cage was an exceptionally special film for me," Hegedus said. She added that she hopes the film's audiences also treat animals with respect and kindness. Further, she emphasized the importance of spreading the message more widely and mentioned her team's attempts to get the film into 250 law schools around the country.

Unlocking the Cage is a Netflix original and is scheduled for a November 4th release.

The second film showcased was The Ivory Game, directed by Academy Award nominee Kief Davidson and produced by Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions. Vulcan's Ted Richane, who was here to represent the film, explained that it reflected Allen's three-pronged vision of philanthropy, including collecting data, pushing legislation, and storytelling. He also said that the film approaches the ivory trade from a different angle which doesn't involve the supply of animals in Africa. "There are a lot of films out there about elephants," he said. "This ... looks at the ivory market and the trade."

He said the consequences of the ivory trade go beyond "dead elephants": "We need to make sure people understand that it's not just a numbers issue. When an elephant is lost from the herd, it has an emotional impact to the other elephants in the herd."

The third film showcased was Sniffing Out Cancer, about research showing that dogs are excellent pre-screening agents for up to 11 cancers. Director Adriana LaCorte spoke of her background in reality television and wanting to do something meatier, especially after multiple close personal deaths.

"These dogs are showing 98 to 99% accuracy," said LaCorte. "Maybe these dogs are the best cancer detection device [we have]."

As the film is low-budget, LaCorte asked for help with its completion. She also said she wants more doctors to see the numbers and see the research that has been done, and feels confident that people will get behind this very early-stage, non-invasive, pain-free method of pre-screening.

Geralyn Dreyfous (R-below), Co-Founder of Impact Partners Film Fund, Founder of the Utah Film Center, and SNS Ambassador for Documentary Films, spoke about the unique challenges that come with making high-impact films, and of her motivations.

"Films are the lingua franca of our era," she said.  

Mentioning the typical three- to five-year length of production, and costs of beyond a million dollars, she debunked the myth that having access to technology is enough. Connecting filmmaking with philanthropy, she spoke of various methods of financing, including grants and private equity. "People are starting to understand that in philanthropy, ideas are disruptive," she said.



Flows and the Big Shift in Business Models

With John Hagel, Director and Co-Chair, Deloitte Center for the Edge LLP;
and Paul Sallomi, Vice Chairman, Global TMT Industry Leader, and
US & Global Technology Sector Leader, Deloitte Tax LLP

Hosted by Ivy Estabrooke, Executive Director,
Utah Science, Technology and Research Agency (USTAR)

"Changing the traditional business model to embrace data flows"
    by Melissa Dymock

This Thursday morning session was devoted to how data flows may upend traditional business models. "Current business models are fundamentally broken," said John Hagel, Director and Co-Chair at Deloitte Center for the Edge.

He said the return on assets for public companies in the US has declined by 75% over the last several years, a long-sustained erosion with no sign of turning around. However, new models based on flow and data are enabled and available.

"Flows have always been the great enabler of commerce," said Paul Sallomi, Vice Chairman, Global TMT Industry Leader, and US & Global Technology Sector Leader, Deloitte Tax LLP. While the new flows made by technology create vast opportunities, it takes time to develop the tools to take full advantage of them.

"The tech that has become available is making the invisible visible, at scale and at real time," Hagel said. He added that the inclination is to use the new tech to make current models faster and cheaper, but there's much more than can be done.

Sallomi said, "What we're talking about here is to push the envelope further into something more transformative."

One idea Hagel suggested is the "trusted advisor" business model, in which the customer is connected to everyone. Traditionally, this has been available only to the wealthy, because one has to know the customer very well to do this. With the data flows, it can go to the mass market, enabling business to say: "I know you better than anyone else, and you can trust me to connect you to the resources that will serve you."

Another model, suggested by Sallomi, is to change the way customers pay for service. The old way is that the customer first buys the service, and the service is then delivered. In this model, the customer may end up paying for unused services. With data flows, he said, customers can pay for usage. Then with monitoring, the service can be enhanced as it's given.

Hagel added that the customer could move from paying for usage to paying for value. This would give greater value to the customer and give the business more incentive to create value. He said that companies could also use data to move beyond prescription to prevention, using the example of brakes becoming antilock and now activated with a sensor.


The SNS Carbon Trifecta: Harnessing the Flow of CO2

With Larry Smarr, Director, Calit2 (a UC San Diego / UC Irvine partnership), and SNS Ambassador for Pure Science; Jon Myers, Founder, Graphene Technologies, and Managing Director, NovaMetallix; Ray Gibbs, CEO, Haydale Plc;
and Soroush Nazarpour, President and CEO, NanoXplore

Hosted by Mark Anderson

    by Chance Murray

Global climate change is typically discussed with a doom-and-gloom sentiment. Carbon dioxide concentration is higher than it ever has been.

"Limiting the carbon dioxide levels to near current levels would be a major miracle, and would require a Herculean effort," said Larry Smarr, Founding Director of Calit2.

Mark Anderson, founder and CEO of SNS and Future in Review, emphasized the need for action. Anderson is leading a consortium to develop real solutions for global climate change. "There has to be a multi-phased response, followed by a final solution that will be implemented within 20 to 30 years," he said. "Once we find the interim solution, then we need to figure out how to make it, and after that, how to market it. With such a new product, we'll have to create an entirely new market."

Carbon is a building material with applications throughout our natural environment. The challenge is how to reduce carbon dioxide into a material we can use. Graphene, a reduced form of carbon with a high degree of structural integrity, is a likely material.

"It's scalable, economical, and recyclable," said Jon Myers, founder of Graphene Technologies and Managing Director of NovaMetallix.

Ray Gibbs, CEO of Haydale Plc, expounded on current applications of graphene, including uses in vehicles as well as products manufactured by large companies such as Huntsman Chemical.

"There is no simple answer," added Soroush Nazarpour, President and CEO of FiReStarter 2016 company NanoXplore. Applications of graphene and other low-carbon-emission products must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis across industries. Nazarpour also stated that the economics are such that there is plenty of money to be made for businesses considering applications of graphene in their products.

The panel agreed that despite solutions being identified, there will not be an impact unless we can get buy-in from the world economy, specifically China.

"The bulk of carbon emissions are generated in China," said Smarr. "If we are to be successful, we need to look beyond the Wasatch front. We need to look throughout the world."


The UnDx (Undiagnosed) Global Initiative

Katia Moritz, Director, Undiagnosed: Medical Refugees; John Ryals, CEO, Metabolon; Ryan Taft, Senior Director of Scientific Research, Illumina;
and Robin Y. Smith, CEO, ORIG3N

Hosted by Doug Jamison, CEO, Harris & Harris Group

    by Sally Anderson and Arunabh Satpathy

SNS Programs Director Sharon Anderson Morris introduced this panel by describing a serendipitous meeting with Director Katia Moritz (L, above) a few years ago, which led to Moritz having a place at the FiReFilms table, an eventual introduction to SNS member Doug Jamison, Chairman of the Harris & Harris Group, and ultimately to the creation of the Undiagnosed (UnDx) Disease Consortium global initiative, which was announced to the FiRe audience today.

Moritz took it from there, beginning with a clip of her documentary Undiagnosed, which depicts the challenges of several patients, mainly children, with medically unexplained symptoms. A clinical physician herself, Moritz has had a debilitating illness for six years that is as yet undiagnosed. She and Jamison were joined on this panel with John Ryals of Metabolon, Ryan Taft of Illumina, and Robin Y. Smith of ORIG3N.

This past year, what is today known as the UnDx ("Undiagnosed") Consortium introduced five providers, suggested by Jamison, to others that Moritz had previously brought together, from clinicians, tech experts, and biostatisticians to patients. A meeting was held in San Diego on August 15 "to interrogate that data to see if we could provide new hypotheses." "For the first time, all these companies who are working in different areas of biotechnology are working together," said Jamison. Together they presented their findings up to that point on the 16th.

Moritz also related the frustration of not being able to find data about people whom the medical system refuses to, or is unable to, treat, and which could offer something to the world. A meeting with the principal investigator for the Undiagnosed Disease Network at Harvard resulted in the "Clarity Undiagnosed Challenge," bringing together global teams to try to diagnose Moritz and the other patients in the film. There were 26 teams total, and while the challenge didn't lead to definitive conclusions, it created many new ideas and directions.

Today's panelists offered their respective perspectives, beginning with Ryan Taft (R, below) of Illumina. Taft became interested in undiagnosed diseases because of a personal story, which inspired him to change his career direction. After meeting with Moritz, Illumina donated genomes for the five families in the film. Taft said he believes we are reaching a couple of inflection points, one being that what was once an expectation of 5% of undiagnosed kids receiving a diagnosis is now 50-55%, thanks to new technologies. The other inflection point is collaboration.

Jamison agreed that the genome is the basis upon which more successes are being built. Ryals talked about the need to combine contextual information with genomic information. Robin Y. Smith's company, ORIG3N, worked with the UnDx families and organizations to directly collect samples. They personally visited patients' homes with testing equipment, collected samples for five purposes, and processed them on the spot in the families' kitchens. Those purposes: metabolomics, chromosomal rearrangement analysis, epigenetic analysis, coordinating with dry-ice suppliers for coolers, and one sample for their own research.

There was a panel consensus that many of the findings are treatable, but the next step is that attending physicians have to agree on recommended treatments.

Moritz talked about the importance of hope for those who are undiagnosed, and of believing that future generations will be helped by all that is learned about them today. As a result of the actions of the people and companies on the FiRe stage today and others, samples are finally being saved - so 50 years from now, they can be useful to both descendants and science. The UnDx Consortium gives a place to put this information for the benefit of science and of future patients.

The next challenge is to merge the information with the applications, making it more practical to apply for patients. And more datapoints is better.

Taft said one of the best results of the August meeting was having so many smart people together who had expertise in different fields, and "pressure test[ing] your hypotheses" against their different POVs and assumptions. He emphasized the value of patients and their families playing a very real role in helping achieve desired results, which sometimes leads to the answer: "Parents are the most incentivized people in the world to learn about these things."


Moritz talked about having brought all of the film's undiagnosed kids to an Undiagnosed Camp in Utah, where they did sports and lots of other activities.

The prevailing theme and meme, in Moritz's words, is that "new technologies plus collaboration equals hope."

[Incidentally, all of the work done by all global teams to this point has been pro bono.]

The session ended with a surprise award, with Jamison presenting Mark Anderson and Sharon Anderson with an etched plaque showing all those present at the team's inaugural presentation, reading: "1st UnDx Consortium / San Diego, California / August 16, 2016." (See "FiRe 2016 Awards" section below.)

Related Media:

FiRe Session Video (30:35):

FiRe Session Audio:


KPCW Public Radio - "Cool Science Radio" ( John and Lynn's first guests are in fact a panel representing 4 bio tech firms and a venture capital firm [Katia Moritz, Ryan Taft, John Ryals, and Doug Jamison] that have come together for a common cause to treat undiagnosed illnesses.

Speaker Bios:

Katia Moritz:

John Ryals:

Robin Y. Smith:

Doug Jamison:


Treat the Patient, Not the Disease: How Technology, Incentives, & Business Models Will Enable Data Flows and Reinvent Healthcare

With Glenn Snyder, Medical Technology Segment Leader,
Deloitte Consulting LLP; and Michael E. Raynor, Director, Monitor Deloitte

Hosted by Larry Smarr, Director, Calit2 (a UC San Diego / UC Irvine partnership),
and SNS Ambassador for Pure Science

"Individualized attention is the key to systemic healthcare change"
    by Shelby Cate

What is the path forward for healthcare in the US, when the complexity has grown exponentially? Larry Smarr hosted Glenn Snyder, Medical Technology Segment Leader of Consulting and Michael E. Raynor, Director of Monitor, to talk about this and other issues facing the healthcare system.

According to Snyder, technology will likely help drive simplification and more precise targeting of patients. "There are a lot of situations where a patient is diagnosed with a specific condition, but the standard treatment doesn't work for them," he said.

With increased data collection, as well as rising interest in personalized medicine, it's becoming possible to parse out how individuals will respond to treatment.

Raynor agreed, noting that even if the diagnosis is the same, a disease will be uniquely manifested in each individual and may need different treatment.  He said that with technology, "we are getting to the point that we can take individualized medicine seriously."

One of the concerns, however, is the regulatory environment. Snyder and Raynor agreed that this is a significant problem, but Snyder pointed to "some promising developments in the US," including the MACRA legislation passed in the past year. The legislation is intended to shift physician incentives toward quality rather than the current fee-for-service system. Snyder also noted that there is a growing "willingness to experiment, collect data, and figure out what works," which may help drive systemic change.

The three speakers agreed that the key to relieving the burden on the healthcare system is by preventing people from getting sick in the first place. "'Patient' implies they're sick, but you want to treat the citizen so they don't become a patient," said Smarr.

Smarr continued by asserting that chemotherapy clinics are at full capacity, saying if cancer were prevented or detected earlier, less chemotherapy treatment would be needed.

"Whether it's choosing a healthy lifestyle or if you have a chronic disease that you need to take a specific medication - compliance is our biggest issue," said Snyder. However, he was also hopeful that technology can provide some solutions to compliance by precisely targeting and messaging patients based on their individual tendencies.

"Reasons for lack of compliance are very different depending on the people," he said. "There are different archetypes. For some it's because of money, for others it's because of memory. So we can get to be really targeted on how we influence behavior."


Elon's Vision Becomes Reality: The Hyperloop Takes on the World

With Bibop Gresta, Chairman, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT)

Hosted by Sharon Anderson Morris, SNS Programs Director and
SNS FiReFilms Managing Director

     by Melissa Dymock

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) wants to take you from Denver to Las Vegas in less than an hour, and from DC to New York in 30 minutes. HTT Chairman Bibop Gresta took to the stage Thursday to educate and update attendees on the company's current status and future vision.

This world-changing technology utilizes an above- or below-ground tunnel. The tunnel carries capsules, powered by a series of magnets, that start to levitate at 20mph and can reach speeds of up to 760mph.

Gresta said that to create this new industry, HTT is trying to build on what's been done before rather than starting everything anew. "The risk to reinvent something is too high," he said. "We can't afford it." So HTT's design minimizes new infrastructure by developing ways to pair the system with highways and railroads already in place. Host Sharon Anderson Morris, SNS Programs Director, added, "Nobody has a budget to do it because it's never been done before."

Gresta said HTT plans on having agreements in place with countries to begin testing in the near future. The main tech and design is there, and they are ready to build. This new technology doesn't require government subsidies, because the company is energy net-positive.

Gresta spoke about the effects of creating a disruptive technology. "We want to make it in a way that is not disruptive to anything else," he said. "We want to contribute to countries, not destroy industries."

During the interview, Gresta showed a video that he said they don't show to anyone, but did because "FiRe is a special place with brilliant minds." The video depicted some actual testing of the technology.

At the close of the discussion, HTT was presented with the FiRe 2016 Company of the Year award by Future in Review. (See "FiRe 2016 Awards" section below.)

Related Media:

FiRe Session Audio (30:02):


BBC World Service - Business Daily: "Future in Review: Meet the Entrepreneurs" (podcast): "Presenter Ed Butler speaks to Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, about the company's contracts to build this futuristic near-sonic speed transport system in Slovakia and in another yet-to-be-disclosed country."

KPCW Public Radio - "Cool Science Radio" ( John's first guest is Bibop Gresta, Chairman and COO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies.

Speaker Bios:

Bibop Gresta:

Sharon Anderson Morris:



The Oldest and Newest Microbiome: Plants

With James "Ben" Brown, Dept. Head, Molecular Ecosystems Biology, and Chair, Environmental Bioinformatics, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
and the University of Birmingham

Hosted by David Morris, VP Business Development, Strategic News Service

"FiRe session proposes plants as solution to chemical toxicity in humans"

    by Nick Fritz

We are creating and using record numbers of industrial and agricultural chemicals every year, with little understanding of their side effects on biological systems. James "Ben" Brown, Department Head of Molecular Ecosystems Biology at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explored the unintended but increasingly noticeable consequences of the wide use of these industrial compounds. The session was hosted by David Morris.

The infrastructure currently being used to determine toxicity of new chemicals is sorely lacking, and the subsequent regulation is inadequate. "We regulate against known compounds," Brown said. "We don't have standards for unknown compounds."

Out of the approximately 100,000 industrial compounds in use across the world today, only around 7% have known toxicity profiles. Carbon nanotubes are an example of such a compound. They can be bought inexpensively on the open market. When inhaled, 40% of the nanotubes remain in the lungs and cause necrotic lesions.

Another facet of the problem is the process used to determine the toxicity for that 7%. The current testing process takes approximately five years and $1.5 million per compound to determine toxicity in rodents. A series of "interspecies correction factors" is then applied to determine unhealthy doses in humans. These factors are largely just educated guesses, Brown said, and this scaling creates an over-regulation problem, whereby certain chemicals are billed "toxic" at levels far below their actual toxicity threshold.

To solve these problems, Brown and his team are proposing that prospective toxicology testing may create relevant timescales and more significant interspecies applicability. The idea is that testing can be done across a variety of organisms that represent a broad spectrum of the phylogenetic tree, and are therefore applicable across the entirety of the tree of life.

On a smaller scale, molecular ecosystem biology is attempting to understand how genes transduce, respond to, and ultimately influence both populations and ecologies. In this way, Brown is trying to replicate very complex microbial systems, such as those that exist in acre plots of farmland, in order to better isolate the chemical variable in toxicity testing. If microbial variables can be eliminated from the toxicity testing of chemicals in plants, we could have a much better understanding of the actual effect of the chemical(s) in question.

The Environmental Consortium is just one organization that is advocating internationally for the need for this testing. Using these methods on a large scale would help to dramatically reduce the harm caused by chemical compounds at all levels of the tree of life, from microbe to biome.

To see all of Kris Krüg's photos from Thursday morning, 9.29,
go to:


Thursday Afternoon, 9.29

A New Congo

With Emmanuel Weyi, Presidential Candidate, Democratic Republic of Congo;
and Bruce Dines, VP, Liberty Global

Hosted by Ed Butler, Presenter and Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC

"A bid to bring the Congo into the 21st century"
   by Shelby Cate

Emmanuel Weyi, presidential candidate for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Bruce Dines, VP of Global Liberty, joined BBC host Ed Butler on Thursday afternoon to discuss the future of the Congo, one of the most troubled countries on earth.

Born in the DRC to a banker and a businesswoman, Weyi was sent to Europe at the age of 15 to be educated. In 1985, he started a sustainable-energy and mining company in Colorado and Congo.

"When I came to the US, I had only $135 in my pocket," Weyi said. "I was young and motivated."

Weyi was the president and CEO of his company for 19 years and recently left to become a politician. His vision for his country begins with stability and leads toward a highly educated and technologically connected future.

"The first thing is security," Weyi said. The DRC needs a well-staffed, well-trained, and well-compensated army to protect its natural wealth, just as banks need security guards to protect their assets. After securing and stabilizing the country, Weyi plans to begin crafting the digital economy with broadband, using fiberoptic, satellite, and other available technologies to improve telecommunications.

He said that one advantage in the DRC is that they don't have to go to the UN, the IMF, or other foreign sources to fund these types of technology ventures.

Dines, who Weyi has asked to lead a digital strategy initiative for the DRC, is optimistic about the future of the country and "the opportunity to leapfrog technologies" from the sparsely available 3G all the way to 5G. Dines believes that technology companies such as Microsoft and Oracle will have an easy case to enter the market once the government is stabilized.

"The corruption piece has to be dealt with, and that's no easy task," said Dines. "But when you have a man that has the conviction that Emmanuel does, that will be addressed."

Weyi said "Congo is an old kingdom, but a young country," and is experiencing the growing pains of a young democracy. In looking toward the future, he said: "Everything starts with leadership."


Advanced Sensor Design

Ocean Sensing: Realtime Data Flows from an Unmanned Remote Station:

With Roger Payne, Whale Scientist, Founder/President of Ocean Alliance; and
John Delaney, Professor, School of Oceanography, Paros Endowed Chair for Sensor Networks, University of Washington, and Director OOI, NSF

- and -

Digitizing Smell and Taste:

With Chris Hanson, Founder and CEO, Aromyx

Hosted by Jim Louderback, Managing Director, Louderback Group,
and past GM, Discovery Digital Networks

"Sensing advanced data flows"
    by Chance Murray

This panel convened experts from the seemingly disparate fields of digitizing smells, quantifying underwater sound travel, and discovering seismic explosions. They were brought together by the world of sensors, which is reaching new heights and depths.

 "We're trying to recreate a dog in a device," said Chris Hanson, Founder and CEO of Aromyx, of his company's technology to digitize smell and taste by creating sensors that mimic biosensors in the human nose and tongue. The application of such technology is significant. Bomb-sniffing dogs at security points, for example, could be complemented or even replaced by devices employing such technologies.

Noise pollution in the ocean has been on the rise due to increased movement of goods around the world. Whale scientist Roger Payne, Founder and President of Ocean Alliance, has been studying the physics of whale songs for decades.

"In an unpolluted ocean, we determined that whale songs can reach as far as 13,000 miles due to the unique physics of such ocean depths," said Payne.

Current sensors to monitor whale activity, commonly known as "critter cams," provide only a static view of what whales see. Payne elaborated on a sensory device that would connect to whales and project a camera when sensors indicate that another organism is nearby. This device would collect important information about whale habits and environment, and would be powered by ocean currents rotating a small turbine incorporated into the device, without disturbing the whale's sensitive skin surface.  

John Delaney, Professor at the School of Oceanography, University of Washington, elaborated on a sensory device his team has planted 400 kilometers off the Oregon coast that measures tectonic plate activity. The device sends 14 minutes of live streaming video every three hours of each day. Among the highlights of dataflow collected by the device is an underwater volcanic eruption, the audio of which Delaney played for the FiRe audience.

"We've never heard anything like this before," he said.

He then introduced a design for a series of sensors to be placed along the Pacific Rim that would provide flows of data relating to tectonic plate activity. The sensors would span the entire Northwest Coast, using technology comparable to that installed by Japan not too long ago.

"We can choose to invest in these sensors now, enabling us to capture valuable information about tectonic activity in the coastal region, or choose to incur the cost of reconstruction after a significant earthquake," said Delaney.


Human Trafficking and the SNS Global Rescue System
(GRS) in the UK

With Andrew Wallis OBE, Founder and CEO, Unseen (UK)

Hosted by Cynthia Figge, Co-Founder and COO, CSRHUB and EKOS International

"Putting the slave trade out of business"
    by Nick Fritz

Although invisible to most of us, millions of people are affected each year by human trafficking. Andrew Wallis OBE, Founder and CEO of Unseen (UK), and host Cynthia Figge, COO of CSRHUB, met to discuss the efforts being undertaken in the UK to eliminate modern slavery.

Modern slavery is an illicit trade, subject to the economic principles of supply and demand. Globally, this business annually creates $150B in profit, exploiting more than 46 million people. While most of them are migratory women and children who are fleeing war or famine, or seeking economic fulfillment, recently there has been a shift in the female-to-male ratio.

More and more men are becoming victims of the slave network, driven by a global need for labor. This forced labor exists at the bottom of many supply chains, which are often so long and convoluted that the parent organizations have little idea of the injustice occurring.

"Supply chain is the wrong term," Wallis said. "We should be calling them 'supply whips.'"

In this way, the average consumer interacts with slavery on a regular basis. Many of the products bought and sold all around the world - especially cotton, electronics, and food - have a high likelihood of slavery in the supply chain.

The key to reversing this trend and putting slavers out of business is for commercial enterprise to get involved. Increasingly, firms are paying very close attention to their supply chains; in some cases, they are required by law to demonstrate supply-chain transparency. In the UK, firms whose sales exceed 35M annually are required to submit a supply-chain-transparency report detailing efforts to eliminate social injustice to the lowest links of the chain.

The millennial generation is accelerating this change by rewarding socially responsible firms with their business, and thereby incentivizing companies to undertake such efforts.

Additionally, a human trafficking helpline is now live in the UK. The helpline can be used by anybody experiencing, witnessing, or concerned about human trafficking incidents. The goal for the helpline is to eventually have one number recognized globally as a human trafficking hotline. In this way, individuals are empowered to help end modern slavery.

Finally, big-data applications are just now coming online to fight this problem. Law-enforcement agencies, businesses, and the helpline are all streaming large amounts of data to Unseen UK for analysis. Predictive analytics will begin to be useful in identifying individuals, companies, and trade routes that are hotspots for violations.  

Wallis believes in the efficacy of these efforts, and is hopeful for the future. "Our mission is to put slavery out of business. I think we can do that in a generation."


Quantum Computing: Targeting Quantum Chemistry
with a New Qubit Chip and New Algorithms

With Jonathan Carter, Deputy Director of Computing Sciences,
Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Hosted by Brett Horvath, Co-Founder and Head of Product, Scout

 "Quantum computing is coming sooner than you think"
    by Shelby Cate

Host Brett Horvath, Head of Product at Scout, kicked off the session on the future of quantum computing by urging those in the audience unaccustomed to quantum to check it out, specifically referring to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's explanation. Guest Jonathan Carter, Deputy Director of Computing Sciences at Berkeley Lab, agreed: "I really urge you to check out that quantum computing explanation from Justin Trudeau," he said. "It's a really beautiful explanation of quantum computing from a politician."

The conversation between the two revealed that a future that includes quantum computing may be closer than many may realize. Horvath asserted that not many companies are looking at specific applications for quantum computers, instead being more focused on general-purpose computers. Carter, however, said he was spotting a change.

"Some companies, Google particularly, think it would be great to have a near-term win, as well as the long-term goal of a quantum supercomputer," Carter said.

In practical terms, this means pairing traditional computers with currently available quantum components. "Instead of waiting for the most powerful quantum computer, you build a quantum subprocessor," said Horvath.

"We want to get to some usable simulation results in the near term," said Carter.


Hot Spots: Five Views of the Future

Hosted by Ed Butler, Presenter and Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC

      David Engle, Director of US Operations, SNS Project Inkwell, and SNS Ambassador for Education

      Thomas Aidan Curran, CTO, Imarum GmbH

      Mike Winder, VP, Community Development, Zions Bank, and Legislative Candidate

      Michael Bartholomeusz, CEO, HZO

      "The New FiRe Fund": Mark Godsy, CEO, Exro

    by Nick Fritz and Sally Anderson

The FiRe conference famously brings many of the brightest minds together to discuss the future of our world. On Day 3, Ed Butler solicited the opinions of five of those minds to answer a simple question: What is your view of the future? David Engle, Thomas Curran, Mike Winder, Michael Bartholomeusz, and Mark Godsy each answered the question in his own way.

Education was the first theme to emerge from the discussion. "The model for education needs to change and needs to change dramatically," said David Engle.

He elaborated that the current model is stuck in the Industrial Age, and reconstructing it would likely be too painful to be practical. His answer is to start a conversation about education by focusing on what we want out of our students and our communities in the 21st century, and creating a new education system from scratch. This model will require a revamping of the current digital infrastructure as a support system and potentially an interface for the students. Engle said that our students are ready right now to answer the old challenge of "how to live in a local community and a global society."

Tom Curran opened by saying he has two "flows": one about speed and one about globalizing financial systems. Automating software delivery is rapidly changing the way we think about computing applications. Additionally, the speed of software development, accelerated by cloud and catalyzed by open-source tools and massive collaboration, is significantly shortening the innovation cycle in the software space.

Mike Winder introduced his theme on a note of optimism for the future, saying he "give[s] it an 'A.'" He went on to define "A" as standing for Africa, which will grow by 5x in the next year, predicting that "Made in Africa" will be the new "Made in China." Aerospace: He looks forward to traveling from New York to London in an hour on the scramjet, and noted Elon Musk's prediction that we'll have a human on Mars within 10 years. Apple: Meaning, the fruit. Winder elaborated on innovations in food and all the different apple varieties coming out today. Artificial intelligence: one study predicts the median date for our reaching the Singularity as being 2040. Alzheimer's has been named "fully treatable by 2025" by a doctor in Britain. Arctic: Winder mentioned "some small silver linings," given the issues raised by climate change: with Arctic ice melting, shipping lanes will be open much longer throughout the year. And Aliens: a NASA engineer has predicted our finding signs of some type of life outside of Earth within 10 to 20 years, which Winder believes will change our universe view.

The convergence between silicon and carbon-based organisms will be a crucial event in the near future, according to Michael Bartholomeusz. One rung in the ladder toward this convergence is the decoupling of silicon organisms from the environment. Technologies such as those offered by HZO are in development and can "coat" sensitive electronic products at the nano level with moisture-resistant materials. This advancement in materials is but one signpost on the road to singularity. That said, he laughingly acknowledged being more "scared" than "optimistic" by some of Winder's predictions.

Mark Godsy introduced the final theme of the session: the announcement of a new "FiRe Fund," whose genesis had been conversations at FiRe 2015 which had since continued, with Mark Anderson and others. An entrepreneur who builds companies, Godsy said the FiRe Fund is in the conceptual stage, but relates to the two main issues young companies face: building and scaling a product.  The plan is to create an "execution-oriented" advisory board of people with complementary skills to help in product development, scalability, pricing, and distribution. He said another aspect is "really about humans," including a mandate for incentivizing and fairness. Board members would contribute to financial success, and in turn would be incentivized. The early-stage company types Godsy mentioned would relate to human health problems and planet health. Ideally they would be in search of intellectual capital and want to be part of an executive team of "stewards" more than typical CEOs. Godsy closed by encouraging interested parties to consider this as an invitation.


Breakout Sessions, 9.29


Breakout I

CTO Design Challenge Working Session:
"Creating the First Flow Computing System and
Enabling the Earth Energy Monitoring System"

The Challenge Team: Nathanael Miller, Aerospace Engineer, NASA Langley Research Center; Brad Holtz, Chief Nexus Officer, Coventry Computer; Steve Coy, President, TimeLike Systems; Jeff Hudson, CEO, Venafi; Talbot Jaeger, CEO, NovaWurks; Ilkay Altintas, Chief Data Science Officer, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego; Franklin Williams, Principal, Live Earth Imaging Inc.; David Zuniga, Commercial Innovation Manager, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (Sole Manager, NASA's ISS US National Laboratory); Ben Brown, Department Head of Molecular Ecosystems Biology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Lee Hall, Principal, Clew Group LLC; and Roy Popiolek, CTO, Adele : Systems GmbH

"The CTO Challenge continues"
    by Melissa Dymock

The CTO Team continued work on Thursday to solve its two-part challenge: creating a flow computer system and a flow system that monitors the Earth's energy in real time.

They met throughout the day in separate teams working on the two sides of the problem. The initial plan for this technology started out the day before with a pad of paper on an easel. Thursday afternoon's session was about bringing the two teams up to speed on each side's work and preparing a report of their progress for Friday's report-out to the FiRe audience.

Nathanael Miller, a NASA aerospace engineer, wanted to tie what they've done to the basic flow presented in the keynote of the conference, including friction, stock / capacitance, and attributes of flow.

Brad Holtz, CEO of Cyon Research and Chief Nexus Officer for Coventry Computer, said that they created many different views of the structure. They also went through the flow of the structure and tried to answer the questions of what is in the system and what is not in the system.

Holtz said the flow process will be to authenticate, visualize, and interact with the data. The working name of the Earth Monitoring System is currently "E2MS."


Breakout II

The UnDx ("Undiagnosed") Global Initiative

Moderated by Doug Jamison, CEO, Harris & Harris Group; Katia Moritz, Director, Undiagnosed; Ryan Taft, Senior Director of Scientific Research, Illumina; John Ryals, CEO, Metabolon; and Robin Y. Smith, CEO, ORIG3N

    by Shelby Cate and Sally Anderson

The UnDx ("Undiagnosed") breakout session covered the process of producing the documentary Undiagnosed: Medical Refugees and the steps moving forward. The latter included where to go next with all that was learned by the new UnDx Consortium when it convened in San Diego to present its results in August 2016, as well as means of supporting the undiagnosed population as a whole.

In response to questions about the making of the film, Director Dr. Katia Moritz cited her background with the scientific process (she is the director of a clinical institute herself) and how the movie was essentially created to mimic a clinical trial, including an internal review board (IRB) to select patients.

Doug Jamison, CEO of Harris & Harris Group, noted that "this project was a 'shotgun' approach: none of [the participants] had anything in common" besides being undiagnosed.

Moritz emphasized the importance of seeing each case as unique, saying, "We don't see this project as n=7, but rather as seven n=1."

What followed was an animated discussion among particularly those in the room who have a medical background, on how the medical community should respond to undiagnosed patients. Ultimately, there was a consensus that as we have better access to more advanced tests, such as metabolomics and genetic sequencing, there needs to be an escalating network of tests and protocols developed for medical practitioners. Jamison said that metabolomics "is probably the most developed platform." Understanding how to best use the vast amount of data may be a challenge moving forward.

"We donated our files to Google and they are using our files to learn how to organize complex medical data," said Moritz. It was agreed that the UnDx Consortium has also done a great job in raising a sense of urgency.

Moritz wrapped up by saying that this was exactly the kind of conversation she had hoped to prompt. "The goal is to use our movie as a catalyst to make the move to the next step," she said.  "The movie is important, but the outreach is very important. And the movie is the bridge to the outreach."


Breakout III

Population Flows: Who's Going Where?

Moderated by Mike Winder, VP, Community Development, Zions Bank,
and Legislative Candidate

"Population flows"
    by Nick Fritz

The tagline of this Breakout was: "The political, economic, cultural, and environmental impacts of global demographics in flux." Populations, like data, capital, and intellectual property, flow across borders. There are many drivers of population, which vary with time and region. Hosted by Mike Winder of Zions Bank, this session explored the nature and drivers of population flows in the 21st century.

Labor is one critical driver of current population flows, as demonstrated by the immigration debate here in the US. However, the nature of work in the future may be fundamentally different than it has been for the last hundred years. Automation is replacing human labor in positions across all industries. This displacement of traditional roles, which have required attendance, by new service-based roles, which may be accomplished remotely, will necessarily change the dynamics of population flow with respect to labor.

Other drivers of population flow may be environmental. War, poverty, and famine have historically been common reasons for human migration, but in the future, environmental collapse may be a driver of population flow. China, particularly in highly industrialized and populated areas such as Beijing, is already experiencing acute pollution issues that are causing real human suffering.

Populations will continue to flow as they always have. The drivers may be different in the 21st century, and understanding these trends will be critical to unlocking value in the coming hundred years.


Breakout IV

Bringing Technology to the Congo

Moderated by Emmanuel Weyi, Presidential Candidate,
Democratic Republic of Congo; and Bruce Dines, VP, Liberty Global

"A vision for the Congo"
Arunabh Satpathy

The focus of this Breakout session was moderator Emmanuel Weyi, presidential candidate for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the massive challenges - political, social, and technological - he faces in getting his country to "leapfrog" into the 21st century.

Weyi's co-moderator was Bruce Dines, VP of Liberty Global; others in the room included curious learners, educators, computer scientists, and entrepreneurs variously cautious and optimistic about the DRC's future.

Dines spoke of access to education and the opportunities for disruption in the DRC, particularly in telecommunications, which would become the two major themes of the session.

"There's an opportunity to 'leapfrog' not only in terms of technology, but also in terms of systems and processes," said Dines.

Attendee Nelson Heller mentioned the success of some technology in Africa, and ways in which it faces resistance. One educator mentioned her experience in trying to introduce computer education in the United States, and the analogous resistance she faces among parents.

The responses to the issues in education dovetailed around experiments in self learning for children and identifying and targeting pain points of parents.

The other large theme of the session was telecommunications. Weyi described this as one of his priorities, with special emphasis on 3G connectivity. He spoke of his days leading a mining company, when he would have to wait for up to two days to speak with his employees, as he was in rural areas.

Leapfrogging was brought up again, by computer scientist Dallas Beddingfield. The discussion shifted to tech companies and their attempts to connect the world cheaply. Google's and Facebook's Internet initiatives were mentioned as possible solutions.

The political realities of Weyi's path were also acknowledged, including the Belgian- system-based election process in the DRC, where a primary system similar to that in the US is followed by a runoff in case a candidate doesn't receive 50% of votes.

This led to a discussion about Weyi's motivations for visiting the US. He said his vision of the DRC involves tech, and the US is at the center of technology. "In politics, there are two layers," he said, "the layer that everyone sees, and the one that no one sees." He said his visits to US politicians and tech centers was his attempt to capitalize on the second layer, build connections, and create demand for his vision of the Congo.

The final theme in the session was the environmental costs of rapid development. Weyi acknowledged that the DRC has the second-largest forest in the world, after the Amazon, and the second-greatest amount of biodiversity in the world. He lamented that some of this was threatened by Chinese logging activities.  

On the question of co-opting locals into the task of protecting the environment, Dines noted his work in nature conservation and efforts to include local tribal populations in eco-tourism models. He cited the example of the Masai, who earlier fought over land but now work together to benefit both tourists and the tribes. Weyi agreed, speaking of the need to bring people into the fold: "To bring change, you need involvement," he said. "If you need change, you need to involve people."

Weyi described his enthusiasm about and faith in the youth of Congo, and how the educational infrastructure could be built by companies in exchange for advertising exposure. The session closed with acknowledgment of the massive difficulties ahead in executing Weyi's vision.


The FiRe Social & VR Experience


Experiencing Endangered Species Through VR

Produced by Condition One


To see all of Kris Krüg's photos from Thursday afternoon & evening, 9.29,
go to:


Friday Morning, 9.29

Global Warming and Coastal Inundation

With Hans-Peter Plag, Director and Professor, Old Dominion University, and Founding Director, Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute (ODU)

Hosted by Glen Hiemstra, Founder and Owner,

"Investing in climate change"
    by Chance Murray

The evidence supporting rapid climate change continues to rise, and the implications on environments and economics are too significant to ignore, said Hans-Peter Plag, Director and Professor at Old Dominion University and Founding Director at ODU's Mitigation and Adaptation Research Institute: "Currently, emissions from worldwide annual energy usage is comparable to the Lake Toba explosion that occurred nearly 100,000 years ago."

Compared with the previous 100,000 years, the past 100 years have seen climate metrics change drastically. Carbon-dioxide levels have risen, coastal zones have moved, and water temperatures have risen. Data suggests that a 1-degree Celsius increase in global temperature equates to a 25-meter rise in sea level.

The implications of Plag's research are wide-reaching. City planners and environmentalists can take action now to ensure that coastal zones have adequate infrastructure and are free of waste and pollution that will wash into the ocean. Real-estate developers can invest in properties outside exposed coastal zones or utilize mobile components that are capable of adapting to rising sea levels.

"It's time to divest of exposed coastal areas," Plag said. "Or, if you build in the coastal zone, invest in mobile infrastructure that can relocate with rising water levels."


Bleeding-Edge Medicine: Today's Discoveries, Tomorrow's Practice

With Oren Gilad, CEO, Atrin Pharmaceuticals; Don Straus, Founder and CEO,
First Light Biosciences; Shawn Iadonato, Co-Founder and CEO, Kineta; and
Caitlin Cameron, Chair and CEO, OtoNexus

Hosted by Ed Butler, Presenter and Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC

"Promises and perils at the bleeding edge of healthcare"
    by Shelby Cate

As an industry that is often bemoaned, highly regulated, and endlessly complicated, healthcare offers special challenges for an entrepreneur. The BBC's Ed Butler returned to host the second panel of FiReStarters - Oren Gilad (Atrin Pharmaceuticals), Don Straus (First Light Biosciences), Shawn Iadonato (Kineta), and Caitlin Cameron (OtoNexus Medical Technologies) - to discuss their experiences and, in this case, the future of healthcare innovation.

"It's certainly a competitive landscape," said Iadonato. "One thing that has evolved from the pharmaceutical industry is that they've largely gotten R&D, they are increasingly reliant on companies like my company, [and] like [Gilad's] company, to get the most attractive new technologies."

Cameron sees the same story in the medical device industry: "They look to young companies like us, but they want the angels and the ventures to take the initial risk."

Straus wonders about the effect this trend has had on new ideas, saying that he's seen a lot of good ideas wither and die on the vine because they aren't developed enough for venture capitalists and angel investors, yet can't move forward without development money. "Right now it feels like we're on a great wave and things are working," he said. But he noted that he has also had periods of "sitting around waiting for a wave, and it feels like maybe nothing is coming."

Straus, whose company provides rapid diagnosis of infections, also touched on challenges that high-profile failures in his industry create, such as the recent Theranos bust. "I talk to angel investors, and every other one asks me, 'Why are you not Theranos?'" he said. "We're not Theranos. We have something real."

Iadonato said the challenges of getting capital in pharmaceutical development in particular are that development is high-risk, capital-intensive, and takes a long time. This is in contrast to many technology ventures that are lower-risk, require less investment, and have quick development cycles.

Gilad made the optimistic point that there are now venture arms associated with pharmaceutical companies that are on the ground in academic institutions looking for very, very early-stage opportunities. "Capital is needed in the early stages where risk is high," he said, "but it is out there."

All four CEOs acknowledged the ups and downs of being on the bleeding edge of this industry, but also the excitement that comes along with it. "We're part of this lunatic group of people that actually feel we can do something good," said Gilad, "and it's very fun."


Autonomous Cars:
Social Transformation & Industry Displacement

With Craig Giffi, Vice Chairman, US Automotive Leader, Deloitte LLP

Hosted by Robert Anderson, Chairman and CEO,
Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies and HEVT LLC

"Self-driven disruption"
    by Arunabh Satpathy

Everybody's talking about autonomous cars these days, but no one knows the exact contours of its effects. To explore that question, FiRe 2016 brought together Craig Giffi, Vice Chairman and US Automotive Leader of Deloitte LLP, and host Robert Anderson, Chairman and CEO of Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies and HEVT LLC, to discuss this world-changing technology.

Giffi named five areas he's identified as critical to the success of the autonomous vehicle. These areas were entertainingly titled "My Mother the Car," "What Only Goes Up," "Bill Clinton 1992," "A Game of Thrones," and "Consumers Are Fickle."

Anderson started by asking Giffi what he thought were the biggest problems that would be solvable by autonomous vehicles. Giffi responded that safety would be No. 1, with over 35,000 annual highway fatalities currently, more than 94% of which are attributable to human error.

"The vision is, these things [autonomous vehicles] never crash," he said. "For society, the most obvious benefit is reducing the risk of a traffic fatality."

Returning to Giffi's "five major areas": "My Mother the Car" [a reference to the 1960s-era TV show, in which the mother of Jerry Van Dyke's character is reincarnated as a talking car] refers to vehicle control and ownership, and the sense of personal connection to one's car, which ride-sharing models and autonomous vehicles are increasingly challenging.

When discussing the second area, "What Only Goes Up" - a reference to regulation - Giffi pointed to existing areas where Uber and Lyft cannot go and predicted that certain factors inevitably cause uneven implementation.

The third area, "Bill Clinton 1992," played on the phrase "It's the economy, stupid," which Giffi re-interpreted as "It's the economics, stupid." He said that in companies (especially entrenched companies) investing in autonomous vehicles, return on investment (ROI) isn't considered enough. He cited $8-$12 billion invested in powertrains running on electricity, gas, diesel, and hybrids, and new materials for fuel efficiency, such as graphene.

He also said that the auto industry has led the way in diminishing returns. A 1x return is considered big in the auto industry, while Ford and GM are getting [as little as] 0.3x. "With all of the investment that is being put into new technologies, how in fact do the automakers or the industry get any ROI?"

Giffi put the smart money on disruptors and outsiders. He is also wary of the disruptive capabilities of the fourth area, "A Game of Thrones." Continuing on the ROI point, he said insurance premiums will go down because of safer cars, and dealers will likely go out of business if the automakers or ridesharing companies control the business. He also mentioned massive worker disruption, saying, "If this happens rapidly, it will be fairly catastrophic. The disruption will be significant."

Addressing his final area, titled "Consumers Are Fickle," Giffi mentioned skepticism among American consumers in the adoption of autonomous vehicles relating to concern about safety, while suggesting that members of later generations -millennials and post-millennials - would be far more receptive.

"Consumers are slowly warming up to the notion of safety tech," he said. He further elaborated that on average, the American consumer is willing to save less than $1,000 on safety tech, whereas the investment is much higher, causing a major disconnect between investment and ROI.

Giffi ended by saying that entrenched automakers will have to do the hard job of disrupting themselves, while newcomers will have to look at novel business models to monetize data.


Looking Further

With Eliot Peper, Strategist and Author, Neon Fever Dreams
and The Uncommon Series

Hosted by Berit Anderson, CEO, Scout

    by Nick Fritz

Eliot Peper is a former venture capitalist who today is a strategist and science-fiction author. His books including Cumulus, Neon Fever Dreams, and trilogy The Uncommon Series.  In this session, host Berit Anderson, CEO of Scout, talked with him about the real-world inspirations behind his books and his motivation to become an author.

The discussion began with an explanation of Peper's "uncommon" background and transition to being an author. He said he realized from his time in venture capital that there was a locus of human drama in that world that nobody was writing about. He felt that big Type-A personalities, high-stakes deals, fortunes won and lost, and potentially world-changing technologies make for juicy writing.

"This is the book that I wanted to read, but nobody had written it," he said. "So I did."

The discussion turned to Cumulus, set in a dystopian future in which a giant tech company governs the world. This company, although well-meaning, has inadvertently created ubiquitous surveillance and crippling economic disparity. The theme of the book was inspired by the incredibly powerful social networking and software applications that are now being created more quickly than ever before, said Peper. Further, it suggests that there may be unintended but very serious negative social externalities in this software age.

Anderson asked Peper how he sees that negative potential playing out over the next 15 years. His answer was primarily geopolitical: information has reduced the usefulness of national borders and increased the porosity of these borders with respect to information flow, economics, and crime. Traditional governments are not well-equipped to deal with this border porosity, and as a consequence, private companies are stepping in to fill these skill gaps in areas where governments typically operate.

He gave the example of Google's Jigsaw, which is working on online crime prevention, radicalization, disruption, and protection of human rights - all functions traditionally filled by government entities.

The interview ended with a discussion about travel to Mars as another example of a private firm working in what has traditionally been a government sector. Peper spoke about the motivation for Mars colonization, not only as a hedge against [untenable living conditions on] Earth, but also as a wake-up call to think seriously about taking care of the Earth, and to think disruptively about solutions.


Conclusion & Report-Out: FiRe CTO Design Challenge:
"Creating the First Flow Computing System & Enabling the
Earth Energy Monitoring System"

Judges Charging the CTO Panel: Mark Anderson;
Ty Carlson, CTO, Coventry Computer; and Larry Smarr, Director, Calit2
(a UC San Diego / UC Irvine partnership), and SNS Ambassador for Pure Science

The Challenge Team: Nathanael Miller, Aerospace Engineer, NASA Langley Research Center; Brad Holtz, Chief Nexus Officer, Coventry Computer; Steve Coy, President, TimeLike Systems; Jeff Hudson, CEO, Venafi; Talbot Jaeger, CEO, NovaWurks; Ilkay Altintas, Chief Data Science Officer, San Diego Supercomputer Center, UC San Diego; Franklin Williams, Principal, Live Earth Imaging Inc.; David Zuniga, Commercial Innovation Manager, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (Sole Manager, NASA's ISS US National Laboratory); Ben Brown, Department Head of Molecular Ecosystems Biology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory;
Lee Hall, Principal, Clew Group LLC; and Roy Popiolek, CTO, Adele : Systems GmbH

"The CTO Challenge Team reports back"
    by Melissa Dymock

Team members of the 2016 annual CTO Design Challenge reported back on their progress to the Challenge judges, and to the FiRe audience, at the close of Friday's plenary session schedule. On Wednesday, the team had been tasked with building a flow computer system that can also measure the energy flow of the Earth.

Nathanael Miller, normally a NASA aerospace engineer, serving as the team's nominated spokesperson, walked the judges through their work done so far. Noting


Advance guard of the CTO Design Challenge Team arriving from the Green Room.

that it was "a treat for all of us to work through the night to get the presentation together," he said that when analyzing the assignment placed before them, they changed the challenge from only being a flow system to also being an interactive

system. [It wasn't lost on the audience that this tied in specifically with Mark Anderson's comments earlier in the week about flows and interactions.]

Ben Brown, department head of Molecular Ecosystems Biology at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, explained the system at its most basic. Steps will include sensing the data, routing, aggregating, identifying a flow / pattern, and then using, interacting, and/or archiving the data.

Franklin Williams, Principal at Live Earth Imaging Inc., said that to make the system buildable in a timely manner, the team agreed on using sensors that are already in place. They would place their own aggregators on the sensors. "[There are] millions of sensors out there," he said. "We just need to pull them into the system."

Once they have data and flows, they can determine what holes exist in the knowledge and can then build their own sensors. Williams said that after the first iteration, they can drive the problem backward, adding that they hope the system they design will allow variability in what it can do, so it can be used by anyone from "a kid in his garage" to a Fortune 500 company.

Judges Ty Carlson, CTO of Coventry Computer; Larry Smarr, Director of Calit2; and Mark Anderson were asked if they would vote Up or Down for this project.

Anderson and Smarr voted a straight "Up," while Carlson voted "Up with an asterisk."

"The impact that we have here is pretty significant," he said. "This is a human surveillance system that you have basically provided." He listed several potential aspects affected by the design, including resistance by political systems and private systems that could be directly threatened, as well as an effect on people's livelihoods. "Does everyone understand the significance of the design?" he asked.

Miller responded that these were all things they were including in their discussions.

"We want to make this data as useful as possible to better life on Earth," concluded David Zuniga, Commercial Innovation Manager at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space.


Related Media:

FiRe Session Audio (1:08:36):


CTO Design Challenge Team and Judges:

Nathanael Miller:

Brad Holtz:

Steve Coy:

Jeff Hudson:

Talbot Jaeger:

Ilkay Altintas:

Franklin Williams:

David Zuniga:

Ben Brown:

Lee Hall:

Roy Popiolek:

Mark Anderson:

Ty Carlson:

Larry Smarr:


Coventry Computer: Stealth Team Update

With Michael Riddle, Ty Carlson, Brad Holtz, and Steve Coy

Hosted by Mark Anderson

"The stealth non-session session"
   by Sally Anderson

A year ago, as a consequence of the FiRe 2015 CTO Design Challenge, said host Mark Anderson, a product was born. Since that time, it's had the benefit of 50 scientists, devoted lab space, a successful angel round, incorporation as a company, a core team of hires, and a "really, truly amazing" advisory board.

That core team was revealed in this session, today all members of Coventry Computer, comprising those onstage: Anderson, Mike Riddle, Ty Carlson, Brad Holtz, more recently Steve Coy, and an empty chair signifying a new hire this past week who wasn't present today.

Since last November, the team members have been hard at work on a firm set of milestones and have a clear idea of exactly where they want to go, said Anderson. "We also decided very, very quickly that we needed to go into stealth mode," he added. This statement was followed by a very long silence, broken by Ty getting an audience laugh by saying: "Stealth in action." After another long silence, the audience erupted into applause.

Anderson then asked each team member how they're doing. All said in their own words that they are impressed with the technology, are loving the project, and are ahead of their milestones. Coy, the most recent sign-on, when asked how he feels about the project in general, said he was moving from envy of those who began earlier to eagerness to be more involved. Anderson closed by thanking FiRe attendees for helping turn this into a reality.

The approximate nature of the project was released to FiRe attendees, but is not being shared to a wider audience.



"Your Turn: The Next Five Years"

Audience Questions and Comments

Hosted by Mark Anderson

The comments, feedback, and questions in this annual closing "open session" were so well-considered and thought-provoking that we've decided that rather than try to paraphrase them, we'll create a transcript to be distributed to SNS members and FiRe attendees in the near future.

Thank you.

(+ more features below)


SNS/FiRe Team and 2016 Honored Circles of Support: (L-R) Evan Anderson, FiReFellow Chance Murray, Scott Schramke, Mary Elders, Cheryl Evans, FiReFellow Shelby Cate, David Morris, Sharon Anderson Morris, Mark Anderson, Sally Anderson, Chief Blogger Arunabh Satpathy, FiReFellow Melissa Dymock, Denyse Davis, Richard Hyman, FiReFellow Nick Fritz, and FiReFilms Coordinator Gali Hagel.

* With deep appreciation to so many who gave their time and care to FiRe 2016: Kim & Steve Holmes at Main Frame Digital, Jim Louderback for his awesome interview skills and good sportsmanship, Mary Rose Ashcroft and tireless professional support from Stein's, Robin Marrouche, the Condition One VR team, Lisa Wilson, and many others.

To see all of Kris Krüg's photos from Friday, 9.30,
go to:


FiRe 2016 Awards

At FiRe 2016, five awards were given by Future in Review for achievements in the following categories ...


"FiRe 2016 Company of the Year":
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies

Accepted by Chairman Bibop Gresta


"Interpreting the Indecipherable": Ed Butler

Presenter and Senior Broadcast Journalist, BBC


"Seeing IT": Chris Johnson

Director, Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute (SCI), University of Utah


"Freedom Fighter": Andrew Wallis OBE

Founder and CEO, Unseen UK



"Securing Our Future": Richard H.L. Marshall

CEO, X-SES Consultants LLC




And in a stealth reversal, a 6th award of appreciation was presented ... The UnDx / Undiagnosed team at FiRe presented Mark Anderson and Sharon Anderson Morris with a plaque of honor: a photo engraving of the historic first UnDx team presentation, San Diego, August 16, 2016:

Takeout Window

Randomly chosen, among many favorites. There are hundreds more to choose from in the FiRe 2016 Gallery.


After every FiRe, Speakers, FiReStarters, Partners, & Board Members are encouraged to stay just a little bit longer and join the core SNS staff in an offsite Apres-Feu celebration. Again this year, the Park City Institute with special thanks to Teri Orr and Moe Hickey gave sponsorship support, with a perfect location and impeccable taste, which this year included a double rainbow. Thanks, guys Even our friends from NASA and Hawaii were impressed.

To see all of Kris Krügs photos from Friday, 9.30, go to:

All photos below by © Sally Anderson 2016

Video Flow +

Below are all the video links we can share to date, and a few bonus audio links. The FiReStarter and Participant interviews were produced by FiRe ground crew Main Frame Digital, with Jim Louderback as primary interviewer. As more plenary session and participant interview videos become available, we'll post them on the Future in Review YouTube channel.

FiReStarter Interviews



First Light Biosciences:

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies:








Participant Interviews:

Paul Sallomi, Vice Chairman, Global TMT Industry Leader; and US & Global Technology Sector Leader, Deloitte Tax LLP

Mike Winder, Vice President of Community Relations and Director of Entrepreneurship Programs, Zions Bank

Lessing Stern, Chairman, CEO, and President, Royal Street Corp.

Eliot Peper, Novelist / Strategist, Entrepreneur and Venture Capitalist

Bill Ribaudo, Managing Partner, Technology, Media and Telecommunications Industry, Deloitte & Touche LLP


Future in Review: The Importance of "Flow":

Future in Review: Meet the Entrepreneurs:

Drug Resistant Diseases: Including Don Straus, First Light Biosciences; and Shawn Iadonato, Kineta:

Why we should teach our children to be problem solvers, not bookworms: Featuring Marc Prensky:

Other Media:

KPCW Public Radio - "Cool Science Radio" (Audio): "John's first guest is Bibop Gresta, Chairman and COO of Hyperloop Technologies. Guest number two is Mark Anderson, Founder and CEO of Strategic News Service, CEO, SNS Conference Corp and Chairman of FiRe (future in review conference) named by the Economist as the best technology conference in the world."

KPCW Public Radio - "Cool Science Radio" (Audio): ( "John and Lynn's first guests are in fact a panel representing 4 bio tech firms and a venture capital firm [Katia Moritz, Ryan Taft, John Ryals, and Doug Jamison] that have come together for a common cause to treat undiagnosed illnesses.... The third guest is Caitlin Cameron who is the Chair and CEO of OtoNexus Medical Technologies. The fourth guest on the program is Con Slobodchikoff, CEO and President of Animal Communications Ltd."

ABC4 Utah:

ABC4 Utah:

FiRe Plenary Sessions:

FiRe 2016: FiReStarters I: Six Companies Improving the World:

FiRe 2016: FiReStarters II: Five Companies Improving the World:

FiRe 2016: A New Congo

FiRe 2016: Quantum Computing: Targeting Quantum Chemistry with a New Qubit Chip and New Algorithms

FiRe 2016: Bleeding-Edge Medicine: Today's Discoveries, Tomorrow's Practice


Testimonial Flow

We were grateful to receive real-time feedback in the corridors, along the walkways, handwritten, emailed, and Tweeted. We also welcome your post-event input, both private and attributable to you; please email me at

Below is a new selection of favorites, not published in last week's SNS.

"I have encountered no better community to be a part of, for those of us that think deeply, project far, and are hungry to build." - Philip Vafiadis, Founding Chairman, Innovoyz, Innovoyz Institute, Musitec, Co-HAB, VAF, Cognilitics, & Music City Technologies

"This is the best, most mind-expanding conference I've ever been to. FiRe 2016 changed the way I look at the world and my own initiatives." - Dr. Benjamin Smarr

"The presenters were excellent. Equally impressive was the number of people meeting informally and sharing ideas." - John Wells, Producer / Host, Cool Science Radio

"Mark Anderson said that 'last year's FiRe redefined how computers should work. This year's FiRe will redefine what they should do.' Promise fulfilled." - Steve Coy, President, TimeLike Systems

"FiRe deals with the biggest, most important trends in technology and humanity." - Jon Myers, Principal, Kuehu Ventures

"Each day brought at least a half-dozen fresh ideas on a broad span of topics, from tech to the environment." - Kevin Lange, CEO, Trusted Knowledge Options Inc.

"When we look into the future, there is so much darkness. FiRe shined a light forward, showing that there is hope in new technologies and innovative thinking which can turn the tide." - Shannon Smith, COO, Inc.

"Intellectually stretching, thought provoking, socially stimulating." - Trevor Rudderham, President + CEO, Haydale Technologies Inc.

"Another outstanding FiRe event. Smart people speaking and collaborating about important global issues that technology can positively impact. Well worth our investment and participation." - William J. Ribaudo, Technology Media Telecom Industry Leader, Deloitte Advisory

"Stretched my brain in dimensions I didn't know it had." - Bob Anderson, Change Agent

"FiRe is a place to shift perspective and forge life-changing relationships. [Being a participant] did both beyond what I can describe." - Anonymous

"Amazing content with amazing people interested in engaging with everyone." - Lee S. Hall, Principal, Clew Group LLC

"Brilliant minds across many disciplines all collaborating to solve a multitude of real-life problems around the world." - Richard E. Hyman

Twitter Flow


An only slightly selective sequence of Tweets from Thursday and Friday, 9.29 & 9.30. For lots more, see Roshak @GRoshak Sep 30

We have economy that depends on being able to extract from life support system: must shift to safeguarding it #futureinreview @RunningInFog Rifkin @200_Underfoot Sep 29

Meanwhile outside the #futureinreview conference rooms @Deer_Valley... Anderson @berit_anderson Sep 30

"The world has to build a new internet. You just can't keep bootstrapping the old one." - @marksns at #futureinreview The Edge @RunningInFog Sep 30

Flow computing and an architecture like our brain may lead to the urgently needed Earth Energy Monitoring System #futureinreview #GEO2025 Anderson @berit_anderson Sep 30

A panel of technical geniuses is laying out a real-time earth energy monitoring system on-stage at #futureinreview right now. Nerd swoon. | HTT @hyperloopglobal Oct 1

We won! HTT was named "Company of the Year" at what the Economist calls "the best technology conference in the world." #futureinreview Roshak @GRoshak Sep 30

We are migrants from planet we know to a new planet that we don't know... @RunningInFog #futureinreview Eudes, PhD @RichardEudes Sep 29

Live from the 2016 #FutureinReview Conference. Excited for 3 days of #tech insights! @futureinreview htt... TMT Verified account @DeloitteTMT Sep 29

Really enjoyed @PaulSallomi & @jhagel discussing the big shift in #businessmodels at #FutureinReview this morning. Roshak @GRoshak Sep 29

Will we see an independent Greenland by 2021, due to strategic importance in rapidly melting Arctic? #futureinreview Le Gros Bisson Verified account @sbisson Sep 29

Herbertsmithite, a rather fascinating mineral with quantum computing possibilities.  #futureinreview Wallis OBE @andyw1 Sep 29

So honoured to receive an award at #futureinreview & grateful to @futureinreview for partnering with @unseenorg to help end #modernslavery Anderson @berit_anderson Sep 29

"If we had better ways to simulate chemical problems, we could have big impact on socty, energy problems" Jonathan Carter @ #futureinreview Fastenau @in2theswim Sep 29

Our furry friend needed a nap after all the presentations. #futureinreview

 Tinker @Tinker_1 Sep 29

Talking about human trafficking in the US at #futureinreview conference TMT Verified account @DeloitteTMT Sep 30

Thanks for another great FiRe Conference, @futureinreview! See you next year! #FutureinReview Ribaudo @bribaudo Oct 3

Greatly enjoyed entire #FutureInReview conference in PC, Utah. Best one yet! My Highest regards to Mark Anderson and the entire SNS team!

 #futureinreview Krüg @kk Sep 30

That's a wrap!!! We'll be back October 10-14, 2017. #FIRE2016 #FutureInReview


[Actually, that's October 10-13, 2017. Hope to see you there. - Ed.]


EXCLUSIVE FiRe 2017 RATE FOR SNS MEMBERS:  Until midnight December 31, we are offering SNS members a discount of $1500 off the regular FiRe rate of $5900. To sign up, go to and enter the code FIREeb2017.



SNS / FiRe Initiatives at a Glance

Most of the SNS initiatives have a presence, whether onstage or in spirit, in both the SNS Global Report and at FiRe. You can learn more about them here:

INVNT/IP (Inventing Nations vs. Nation-Sponsored Theft of IP): A global consortium of technology companies working with a global network of cabinet-level government leaders to reduce theft of crown jewel intellectual property. Contact:

SNS FiReFilms (SNS membership not required): We believe that there is nothing more powerful than a well-executed, scientifically sound documentary about a globally important challenge to create positive world change, and we'd like to share what we consider to be world-changing films with as many people as possible. Membership is $100 per year. Benefits include joining an exclusive quarterly Director Call-In Series and 12-14 password-protected Marquee films each year, special discounts and invitations to social events at the Sundance and Carmel film festivals, and other private opportunities throughout the year. Contact: Sharon Anderson Morris, FiReFilms Managing Director / SNS Programs Director: phone 435-649-3645.

FiReStarters Program: If you know of a potential candidate company for this exclusive program featured annually at FiRe and throughout the year, contact: SNS Programs Director Sharon Anderson Morris: phone 435-649-3645.

SNS Project Inkwell: The goal of SNS Project Inkwell is to accelerate the deployment of appropriate technologies onto K-12 desktops worldwide. Contact David Engle at or Marc Prensky at  

Orca Relief Citizens Alliance: A volunteer-driven 501(c)3 nonprofit organization focused on recovering the population health of the endangered southern resident killer whales (SRKWs) of Puget Sound and the Salish Sea, Orca Relief relies on the best available science to demonstrate what must be done to protect and recover J, K, and L pods, particularly from the noise and stress they experience from the commercial motorized whale-watch boats and the many private boats they attract. ORCA is dedicated to creating a Whale Protection Zone on the west side of San Juan Island, Washington, to provide a safe haven that will assist Puget Sound's endangered orca in their recovery. Contact:

Nutritional Microanalysis:  A new medical field, launched via an early FiRe CTO Design Challenge, which describes human inputs on a biochemical level and connects them to health maintenance. Contact

GRS: Global Rescue System. A collaborative effort in alliance with Andrew Wallis OBE's Unseen (UK) and Julia Ormond's ASSET organization to develop an appropriate technology and delivery system to reduce the population of 21 million people worldwide who remain victims of human trafficking, nearly 1 million of whom are children brought into the US as "slaves" every year. Contact


Your comments are always welcome.



Mark R. Anderson


Strategic News Service LLC
P.O. Box 1969
Friday Harbor, WA 98250 USA
Tel.: 360-378-3431
Fax: 360-378-7041

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Upcoming SNS Events

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Register now for FiRe 2017
The 15th annual Future in Review conference

October 10-13
Returning to the beautiful
Stein Eriksen Lodge, Deer Valley

In Park City, Utah

Courtesy Kris Krüg (L) and David Morris

With great appreciation for

 Our SNS Global Platinum and FiReFilms Partners:




Global Platinum Partner:

Global Silver Partner:

Global Bronze Partner:

Focus Channel Partners:

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... for their Partnership and Support of SNS Events.


Additional Supporting Organizations


FiRe Fellows & Interns Sponsors:



and FiRe Academic Partner:


Where's Mark?

* On December 1, Mark will be hosting the 12th annual SNS Predictions Dinner, at the Lotte Palace Hotel, in New York City. To be among this special group, register now at:

Copyright 2016, Strategic News Service LLC

 "Strategic News Service," "SNS," "Future in Review," "FiRe," "INVNT/IP," and "SNS Project Inkwell" are all registered service marks of Strategic News Service LLC.

ISSN 1093-8494