Bull Session

Food Tech

June 2, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore trends in food tech and the variety of ways we can address the problem of feeding a growing global population. According to the UN report “World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision” the current world population of 7.3 billion is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. To feed such a population, we’ll need to change the way we eat. For starters, with such a large population, there will be a high demand for protein. However, there are significant environmental and nutritional limitations for our current animal and plant-based sources. Cultured meat — meat that’s grown in a lab rather than in an animal—is one option for producing protein to meet this demand. So far, however, it is expensive to produce, and as a result, has a long path to commercialization.

Other options include alternative protein sources like insects, such as grasshoppers. However, in Western societies, insect protein generally, is viewed with skepticism. To circumvent this aversion, grasshopper protein could be used in a powdered format as an additive for foods like protein shakes, energy bars, pasta sauces, and baked goods.

Lastly, we’ll need to manage our existing food supplies more proactively, so that surplus is not wasted. Food waste is an issue that costs the US $218B on a yearly basis. Software for managing the logistics of food surplus is another developing area of food tech.

Resources:
SuperMeat Wants You to Try Its Lab Grown Chicken Breast
Feeding the World with Grasshopper Protein
The Modern Agriculture Foundation
Spoiler Alert

Bull Session

It’s the End of the Web As We Know It (and We Feel Fine)

May 25, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we explore the variety of reasons we might be looking at the end of the Internet as we know it, at least as an open global phenomenon.
This one of the ten predictions for 2017 by Nesta, (formerly NESTA, National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts) a UK innovation foundation that explores trends, social movements, and technological breakthroughs.

The push back against globalization, alongside nationalist movements and tense politics all over the globe, governments are increasingly subject to cyber attacks as well as a deluge of misleading information, fake news, and propaganda. According to Nesta, the results of this chaotic environment is making governments wary of the uncontrollable Internet and the possible dire consequences that come with such an open system — so much so that some are willing to consider a walled garden approach of cyber isolationism, cutting themselves off from the world and creating their own independent networks. Join us as we discuss the possibility of the end of the open, global Internet.

Resources:
The End of the Web
Nesta
10 Predictions for 2017

Bull Session

Cyber-threats and Government

May 18, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we look at cybersecurity in the wake of the WannaCry ransomeware attack that affected hundreds of thousands of computers in 150 countries on Friday and over the weekend. WannaCry is malicious software that’s transmitted via e-mail. It encrypts files, locking users out of their computers and threatening to destroy their data if they don’t pay a ransom to the hackers. Last weekend, the malware spread across Europe and Asia, attacking hospital systems, universities, and companies. NHS, the National Health Service of Britain was particularly affected by the attack, causing emergency rooms to turn away patients, and medical appointments and surgery to be rescheduled. The malware behind WannaCry was stolen from the NSA, which raises the question, what is the role and responsibility of government when it comes to cybersecurity?

Resources:
Hackers Hit Dozens of Countries Exploiting Stolen N.S.A. Tool
Hacking Attack Has Security Experts Scrambling to Contain Fallout
Ransomware’s Aftershocks Feared as U.S. Warns of Complexity

Bull Session

Automating Scientific Discovery

May 11, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we’ll look at automating knowledge work, and scientific discovery, in particular. There’s no doubt that knowledge work will change significantly in the coming decades due to massive computing power coupled with AI. It’s fascinating to consider the aspects of science, technology, and design that might be easily automated. AI and deep learning are rapidly changing areas of activity that were previously thought to be the exclusive arena of human cognition. For instance, in the pharmaceutical industry, AI might automate aspects of drug discovery and development, by helping to characterize drug candidates according to likely efficacy and safety. Additionally, the number of scientific papers published each year far exceeds any scientist’s ability to read and analyze them. It’s reasonable to assume that AI and deep learning could assist scientists in navigating this data.

Resources:
Science has outgrown the human mind and its limited capacities
The BGRF is helping develop AI to accelerate drug discovery for aging and age-associated diseases

Bull Session

Why Mars?

May 4, 2017          

Episode Summary

On The Digital Life this week we look at the mission to Mars. For over 40 years, NASA has sent spacecraft and rovers to study the red planet. Now, the space agency is developing the capabilities required to send astronauts, planned for the 2030s. So, why should humanity go to Mars? Luminaries from Buzz Aldrin to Elon Musk have cited a variety of reasons, which include: exploring our universe, searching for life beyond Earth, and even expanding the human presence in the solar system.

NASA has outlined three stages in its plan: Earth Reliant, Proving Ground, and Earth Independent. The first stage has already begun with the International Space Station, which has served as a proving ground for technologies and a way of advancing understanding of how the human body is effected by an extended time in space. However, in mid-April of this year, NASA announced that it will likely delay the second stage — human spaceflight beyond Earth’s orbit — due to budget and software validation concerns. Join us as we discuss the mission to Mars.

Resources:
NASA’s Journey to Mars
NASA’s ‘Journey to Mars’ missions face delays due to budget challenges
Buzz Aldrin: Mission to Mars
Elon Musk Unveils Mars Colony Master Plan