SU Faculty Finds: What We’re Discussing Now

Tiffany Vora
Oct 24, 2019

The SU Faculty continually encounter fascinating developments, stories, and news items that prompt stimulating discussions and learnings among ourselves and with those of you who attend our programs. Here’s a look at what we’re intrigued about lately.

Nature Outlook: Digital Health

Fascinated by how robots, AI, virtual reality, and other awesome technologies are coming together to redefine the future of health and medicine? Nature has you covered. This Outlook gathers nine articles that define the cutting edge of digital health while highlighting the crucial issues (spoiler: ethics) that urgently need to be addressed by entrepreneurs, hospitals, doctors, and patients alike. I’m particularly intrigued by the impacts that these revolutions will have on the humanity of medicine. If doctors, nurses, and other caregivers can reclaim their dedication to people over paperwork … then bring on the robots.

The Untold Story of the “Circle of Trust” Behind the World’s First Gene-Edited Babies

In November 2018, the world was rocked by the arrival of the first children to have had their DNA code altered as embryos (that we know about, anyway). Eight months later, Science magazine dove deeper to ask: How could this have happened? The short answer is “it’s complicated.” This fascinating article brings to life the drama, the tangled issues, and the missed opportunities along Dr. He Jiankui’s road to infamy. Another article in this series digs into the possible health outcomes for Lulu and Nana, the baby girls at the center of the controversy. These issues are important, as some investigators, including in Russia, prepare to move forward with the next (controversial) round of embryo editing. And last, remind yourself that science is a process—read about the official retraction of the study that suggested a shorter life span for people like these twins.

How a More People-Centered Approach to Data Science Can Help Societies Thrive

I’m often asked whether being Faculty at Singularity University makes it hard for me to sleep at night. In general the answer is no … but when it comes to data, I’m sure that we can’t afford to waste another moment in building the best possible future. Check out this wonderfully articulate essay in Forbes by my friend and fellow SU Faculty Member, Dr. David Bray. What challenges and opportunities arise from the unprecedented penetrance of data in our lives? And what can we do—now, today—to take control of the deluge of information around us? I particularly value Bray’s discussion of the people-centered mindset that links data science to the things that make us human.

The Hard Truths of Climate Change—By the Numbers

Climate change. Yes, it’s a thing, and the world is finally waking up to the largest challenge that humanity has ever faced. Want data? Once again, Nature has what you need: stunning infographics on the past, present, and future of carbon emissions that underscore how shockingly little has been—and is being—done to build a positive future. Follow this punch to the gut with The Economist’s look at our species’ track record of adaptability; this breath of optimism nonetheless shines a light on the urgency of combining mitigation and adaptation. And here’s a personal account of awakening from a prominent international lawyer, who found herself overturning her predilection for working within orderly systems. How will you contribute to an abundant future?