FiRe 2017: You are your data. Protect it

By Rainey Cornaby

Personal data is everywhere and the attack surface which can be hacked has become very large with the use of apps and cloud computing. In a conversation with Evan Anderson, CEO, INVNT/IP, Rob Loeb, Solution Architect at Micro Focus explained that individuals tend to look at data on a personal scale and forget where they put their information. For this reason, he stated personal data ends up in places like Azure, in the cloud, and on government computers maintained by people who do not have the same level of concern for the data security of individuals as those individuals do.

Additionally, hacking and leveraging this information has become a greater source of income for those living in developing nations. Hackers are currently focused on correlating your personal and financial data and leveraging them for profits.

“People think the new currency is bitcoin,” said Loeb. “The new currency is you.”

According to Loeb, firewall and code scanning are necessary measures, but ultimately inadequate to address the security concerns facing us today.

What then, is the solution to protect your data from threats at all levels? For adequate security today, Loeb argued the data of an individual must be encrypted.

“You literally have to do full stack protection,” Loeb said.

Traditionally this process was very resource heavy but with the advent of new methods and faster computers, encryption can be performed with fewer resources.

“When you translate the data the data is you,” Loeb said.

He ended by emphasizing the importance of implementing this solution.

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FiRe 2017: Thinking in Systems: Misdiagnosed to Undiagnosed

In a panel lead by Larry Smarr, founding director of Calit2, filmmaker and psychologist, Katia Moritz discussed her upcoming film “Undiagnosed.” The film tells the tragic realities of the undiagnosed and their lives, Moritz affectingly conveyed her emotional journey through the film.

Smarr and Moritz were joined by Doug Jamison, CEO of HALE.lifeAndreas Kogelnik, Open Medicine Institute, DeAunne DenmarkOpen Medicine Institute, and Michael KurisuCenter for Integrative Medicine. All are key members of the Undiagnosed team, and compile their knowledge to work in the undiagnosed community through systems in medicine and technology.

During the panel, Moritz’s main focus was on the life of an undiagnosed eleven year old boy, Alex. He experiences seizures, slurred speech, almost daily trips to the hospital, and his life in and out of hospice care. The Undiagnosed team followed Alex’s treatment, filming him in the process. Moritz said that the team has been desperately trying to make it possible for his story to be known and the stories of the millions of other undiagnosed patients.

The 2017 Fire Film Conference marks year two of the clinical trials for Undiagnosed. Data clusters of the patients, mainly consisting of genome tests, were gathered during the first year and are now being complied with clinical data, such as the symptoms they have experienced. The gathering of the two types of data is a critical step for the team while looking at the information in systems rather than symptoms to hopefully give the patients a sense of what is happening to them.

The team’s goal is thinking in systems to expand knowledge on what is going on in the undiagnosed patients bodies rather than assessing them through symptoms. By combining modalities like those in osteopathic medicine practiced by Kurisu and new technologies, the team hopes to reach the goal of thinking in different ways and giving patients hope.

Moritz ended the session on an optimistic note.

“New technology plus collaboration equals hope,” she said.

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FiRe 2017: Patents, Are We Truly Protected?

By Ahrash Poursaid

As the second day of FiRe conference wound down into the breakout sessions, Evan Anderson, CEO of INVNT/IP and Steven Sherman, VP Member Advocacy gave an eye opening talk about Intellectual Property (IP) protection and how they do not fully protect us.

Steven Sherman’s opening remarks about patent protection was reassuring and offered a hopeful tone about the importance of IP and the innovation it protects

Sherman said innovation is driving economies and emphasized how protection is the backbone of the US economy. Quoting an economist, Enrico Moretti, he said “each new high-tech job in the U.S. creates five additional jobs in the service economy on the tech sector.” These, he said, are the reasons open innovation is highly encouraged and multiple financial opportunities for these ventures. Open innovation offers patent protection, trade secrets, separation on state and industry, competition on fair market principles.

Sherman pivoted to the negative ends of this industry — known as “Info Mercantilist” — which disregards patent and IP law, conducts unfair trade practices, and indulges in currency manipulation. Consequences of this is the loss of IP intensive jobs, which has a greater negative multiple effects on employment.

“Over 1.8 million global jobs were permanently lost in the telecom equipment sector alone resulting from Chinese infomerc[sic] practices,” said Sherman.

Anderson said that these actions can have dire effects on the US economy as well as international ones, but it should not deter people from innovation.

“Information is truly what drives economies today,” said Anderson. “Create valuable decisions for value creation.”

He also continued the Sherman’s conversation about China and that once the information of a new idea has been created, China can take the information and change it.

Despite the pessimism, Sherman ended on an optimistic note.

“Crown jewel intellectual property is the lifeblood of economics, companies, individuals both now and in the future,” he said. “Help us stop the bleeding.”

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FiRe 2017: Breaking Barriers with Documentary Directors: FiReFilms Panel

By Charly Kuecks

Sharon Anderson Morris, managing director of FiReFilms interviewed three documentary filmmakers in a panel called “Documentaries That Change the World: Meet the Directors.” Diane Tober, Bo Landin, and Peter C. Davidson were there to screen trailers of their films and to discuss their work.

Diane Tober — The Perfect Donor

For thirty years, some young women have participated in donating their eggs. However, Diane Tober, a medical anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, believes that potential egg donors need to be better informed about potential side effects.

“The Perfect Donor” is a film that is still in development. Tober’s goals include to engage in conversations with medical professionals in the egg donation industry, to disseminate this information to a wider audience, and to ensure that women give informed consent to often-invasive procedures to stimulate egg production.

Tober’s film is one prong of a wide-ranging campaign to change the egg donor industry. She is also creating an egg donor registry and conducting longitudinal research on egg donation’s long term effects.

Bo Landin — Toxic Puzzle

As the founding director of Scandinature Films, Bo Landin has extensive experience creating films that touch on medical and environmental stories. With a wide broadcast network, his testimony has affected national and international policy. One of the latest efforts in this prolific director’s canon, “Toxic Puzzle,” examines potential environmental causes of ALS and Alzheimer’s.

“Toxic Puzzle” has screened at several film festivals and universities, and in Orinda near Berkeley.

Landin said, “We have gone from broadcasting to ‘narrowcasting.’” He pointed out that documentary films often screen to small groups, compared to tens of millions in decades past.

The passion to bring documentaries to a wider audience is the driving force behind FiReFilms, as Anderson Morris pointed out. She mentioned the close ties with FiReFilms’ corporate sponsors, including Zions Bank and Oracle, as a necessary foundation to FiReFilms’ mission.

Jorden Saxton Hackney — Dying in Vein

Jorden Saxton Hackney, the outreach coordinator for “Dying in Vein,” was not able to attend the panel due to a family emergency. However, the screened trailer showed that the film explores the opioid addiction crisis, especially as it touches on young people.

Peter C. Davidson — Diego’s Dream

Peter C. Davidson was an honors student at the University of Utah when he created and directed the film, “Diego’s Dream.” This project examines the life of one of his college classmates, Diego, who is an undocumented migrant from Mexico. This film was developed through the Humanities & Focusprogram at the university.

Diego (Davidson has kept Diego’s surname private) is a DACA recipient, and he made a surprise appearance on this panel, to discuss his experience making the film and as an immigrant who arrived in the United States at the age of eight.

“I’m here because I want to study, create jobs, and build companies,” he said. “ I want to provide for my future family.”

Davidson’s film explores the human side of the current immigration debate.

“I don’t pretend to know the perfect solution, but if people could have compassion, they might understand [the immigration issue] better,” he said.

To support these and other nuanced, moving documentaries, you can buy a personal or corporate membership at Additionally, you can text the word FILM to the phone number 33933. You will get a notice from Anderson Morris about once a month with a link to the trailer of that month’s FiReFilm.

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FiRe 2017: Some bodies like it hot

By Ahrash Poursaid

From left to right: Mike Winder, Ben Smarr

Things got heated at one of panels during the FiReconference between Representative Mike Winder and Benjamin Smarr of UC Berkeley. The two spoke about Smarr’s research in looking into studying the temperature of the human body for a new form of preventative medicine.

“The body is difficult to study”, said Smarr talking about the complexities of the physiology and his fascination behind it.

He mentioned his interest in trying to understand how something he consumed and now residing in his stomach changes and how it will affect him. He spoke about pattern recognition within the body and how it can lead into prediction of actions or conditions.

Smarr showed the audience a month-long time lapse of body temperature recordings of mice from day to night.

“I look at body temperature across time,” said Smarr.

Every different color pixel transcribes a different state the mice were in ranging from waking up, eating and eventually falling asleep. These were not the only bodily functions that can be seen from this image.

“I can detect pregnancy by looking at body temperature at 100% of accuracy after inception”, said Smarr. “Body temperature changes in a way that we can predict if the pregnancy will be healthy or with problems with 95% accuracy in the first day.”

Smarr made a note that this technology can be used elsewhere other than detecting pregnancies but especially in how well students will perform in schools.

“There are striking predictors from body temperature recording on how students will perform in their classes based on the stability of their sleep,” he said. “I want to walk into a room and the room recognizes me by my body signatures.”

He also looked forward into a future where biological signatures improve our understanding of ourselves.

“We are going to end up in a smart world,” he said.

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FiRe 2017: Breakout session: You Can’t Hide From This Report Card!

By Ethan Annis

A cozy breakout session involving Anupama Vaid from Parent Square, moderated by David Engle from SNS Project Inkwell, explained how Parent Square is changing the way that schools and teachers interact with students and parents. The data provided by this system gives administrators the ability to make adjustments in order to better reach their unique demographic to help increase the learning that happens in their schools.

The discussion started out with a brief history of the education system and Engle described the very slow moving industry that needs the barnacles removed in order to make improvements. He mentioned the system has been the same for many years and requires patience to implement changes.

The discussion continued to go over a few of the problems and obstacles that tend to present themselves to the education industry. How do you account for schools where there is too much interaction with parents? How do you get your system to stick when schools typically swap our curriculums and programs as often as they swap out administration?

Parent Square provides the answers through a very friendly user interface, as well as a highly customizable system. If the parents are too involved, the schools can pare things back. If schools are quick to turn over their programs, the loyal parents call for the system again.

The benefits of Parent Square were also discussed, including the digital literacy growth that will come to low income families from having a reason to use the computer. When parents have a reason to interact with technology, their understanding grows. It was mentioned that this helps provide valuable education to parents in low income families as well.

Vaid finished by commenting on the bright future of her company.

“It’s exciting times for us and as we’re growing, it’s like the possibilities are endless,” she said.

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FiRe 2017: Cheating on Moore to Get More

By Rainey Cornaby

The third session of the third day of the FiRe conference consisted of a panel of Nick Pandher, Director of Market Development of AMD, and Robert Patti, VP of Hardware at KnuEdge. This session was titled “The Chips That Drive it All,” was moderated by James Reinders, Systems Architect from Coventry Computer, and discussed the present and future of chip design.

Moore’s Law is over, or at a minimum compressed. This is a challenge for chip engineers. Scaling is still being done but more money and resources are being spent per additional transistor. This transition has led to more emphasis placed on chip performance. In part for this reason, the current landscape of chip and architecture design has been referred to as as the Golden Age.

“For a computer architect I don’t think there’s ever been a more exciting time,” said Reinders.

He spoke to his experience working on some of the most significant supercomputers of the past and explained projects today are eons beyond those capabilities.

Patti explained that we are at a fundamental turning point with the compression of Moore’s law. As the rate of increased ability to put transistors onto a chip slows, it creates a more even playing field for new entrants into chip manufacturing. According to Pandher and Patti, it also means new techniques are required to improve computing.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one method to usher in improvement. Patti explained that instead of using traditional methods to build a new machine and improve based on transistor which attains 5–7% system improvement, more substantial system gains can be achieved through implementation of AI.

“We are planting seeds and these are very primitive, we will get to machine learning squared,” Patti said.

Patti emphasized that right now, platforms are being developed which will move technology to the capability of improving itself. He and Pandher further explained that individuals are taking advantage of hardware in ways not anticipated.

“Looking back, people were taking graphics processor and repurposing that to do compute,” said Patti. “We will see similar repurposing and innovation now.”

The potential of novel packaging, 2.5 and 3 dimensional integration, novel chip materials and photonics in chip and system improvement were also mentioned as ways to cheat Moore’s Law improvements.

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FiRe 2017: Bringing about the End of Disease

By Ahrash Poursaid

Dr. Leroy Hood speaking at the Future in Review XV conference

Imagining a world without chronic illness and disease sounds like a fairytale or science fiction but according to Dr. Leroy Hood, President and Co-Founder of Institute for Systems Biology and CFO of Providence Health & Services, it is an achievable feat in the next decade.

Dr. Hood spoke about an initiative that would progress healthcare by improving quality of care, predict and prevent disease, reduce costs, and reduce time spent in the hospital by patients, known as “scientific welfare.”

During his keynote speech at the Future in Review (FiRe) conference in Park City, Utah, Dr. Hood pointed out how the importance of understanding wellness and disease within each patient could help discover the transitions between the two states. Doing so could lead ways to reverse these states and become preventative medicine.

“In 5 to 10 years we will have the ability to reverse Alzheimer’s,” he said.

Dr. Hood emphasized that cloud computing has become a big part of everyday life and is making a significant impact in healthcare. Data clouds are generated to create “actionable abilities” to improve wellness and prevent disease among patients. This lead Dr. Hood to develop the P4 medicine system: Predictive, Prevention, Personalization and Participatory. The focus of this movement is in progressing patient wellness rather than just treating diseases.

“Healthcare is not just about disease but wellness as well,” said Dr. Hood.

According to him, creating personalized wellness programs for patients is the biggest step in progressing healthcare. Using genomic sequencing, clinicians can find methods to prevent disease by altering the patient’s wellness.

“Only 50% of kids born in this calendar year are expected to live to 100,” he said. This is an alarming figure and not improving wellness this statistic will remain the same. Wellness is a lifetime journey and is different for everyone but if done properly following the 4 P’s and using the innovative predictive methods, people will be able to live longer and healthier lives.

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FiRe 2017: Thinking in the Century Scale

By Charly Kuecks

SNS Founder Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, the founder of Strategic News Service, raised a question in his opening address to Future in Review XV (FiRe XV) conference in Deer Valley, Utah. “Are things as bad as they feel?” he said. In a world with ecommerce gone crazy, acute privacy concerns, and complex security challenges, it was a reasonable question to pose, even to a room full of optimists.

Anderson posited that when it comes to the accelerating pace of change, it’s not about the century, it’s about the scale. He remarked that the term “innovation” is overused to the point of becoming a buzzword. Instead, he began at the level of the concrete: What happens when we move beyond an oil dependent economy? Why are we seeing so many new century-scale changes all at once? In a world in which population has grown from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7.6 billion today, we need to adopt systems-level thinking.

Anderson said that our plugged-in society bombards us with as much alarming news as we can seek out. However, he believes that compared to a century ago, there is a need for systems-level understanding that transcends mere survival. Anderson said that this means thinking beyond one’s egocentric view.

Anderson also reflected on how the FiRe conference itself has scaled in the past 15 years. He said he believes this is the conference’s pivot moment. FiRe is headed forwards, not backwards. “We’re now enablers as well as creators,” he said. He also encouraged the audience to go beyond listening to “get off your butt and do it”.

Anderson views the evolution of the conference as a way to address challenges, such as urban wildfires and actionable climate change solutions that aren’t being addressed elsewhere.

FiRe XV promises to be exciting, according to Anderson, addressing timely issues such as intellectual property theft and multilateral treaties. He highlighted some of FiRe XV’s standout sessions on the agenda including the Undiagnosed initiative of Katia Moritz. The Earth Energy Monitoring System (E2MS), and new books on Flow Interaction and The Pattern Future are other cutting-edge projects developed and showcased at Future in Review.

So, are things really that bad? Anderson said we may have the “luxury” of knowing about every bad turn the world takes the moment it happens, but compared to the challenges of the twentieth century like the two World Wars and the Great Depression, we have it pretty great. World poverty has dropped significantly, and breakthroughs every day in science and technology promise to improve quality of life across the world.

“We have created our own tools,” said Anderson, “we have found with them new truths.” He encouraged the audience to use these discoveries to forge new solutions, in a drive to achieve real and beneficial change.

Anderson inspired the audience by saying, “the future is ours to create.” In answer to his rhetorical question, he spoke directly to the audience.

“There’s never been a better time to be alive,” he said.

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FiRe 2017: Fish Eyeballs Make Complex Computers

By Ethan Annis

Mark Anderson and Bryan William Jones discussing the Eye-Brain machine

In a session titled “The Eye Brain Machine: Computing’s Next Model,” Bryan Jones and Mark Anderson used the retina as a model to understand how a computer chip of the future might process and relay information.

The session began with Jones comparing the retina to a processor of information flow from the outside world to the brain. During development, the eyes form as stocks off of the brain and eventually form into our eyeballs. At the back of the eyeball we find the retina, brain tissue that connects the brain and the eye.

“It becomes a highly specialized device that then feeds into the brain,” Jones said.

A point that came up in the panel was that humans’ mammalian retinas are much simpler than many organisms on earth, including many reptiles and birds. The human retina has roughly 70–100 neuron types and a goldfish has around 250.

The conversation turned to how this retina information compares to computing.

“We started with the raw anatomy and now we’re interested in the network analysis,” said Jones. “The hard part is we have been doing this for 150 years and it is not easy”

A questioner during the session

This point was illustrated by the fact that there are 9X10¹⁴⁷³ potential nerve connections in the retina. He put that into perspective, saying that there are only 1X10⁸⁰ atoms in the universe by comparison.

Anderson commented how difficult it will be to develop a brain inspired computer chip. Jones mentioned it might be more accurate to say we are developing a neurally informed chip rather than a neurally inspired chip.

Jones wrapped up the session by talking about the potential for information processing if we can understand better how the retina processes such a large amount of visual information so quickly.

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