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145 Highlights from FutureMed Singularity University

17 May 2011 (updated 26 February 2024)

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145 Highlights from FutureMed Singularity University

The Singularity University FutureMed executive program was a fun and fast-paced opportunity to refresh knowledge and connect with some of the best minds in emerging medical technology. The program was held at the NASA Ames research park in California. Topics ranged from exponential technology generally to its specific manifestations in data-driven health, personalized health, regenerative medicine, intervention and neuromedicine. Daniel Kraft led the program, and the faculty included renowned inventor Ray Kurzweil, Xprize founder Peter Diamandis, and an impressive group of physicians, entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers leading their respective fields.

I won’t recap the whole program for you. That’s already been done at MedGadget, where Sean Duffy posted good summaries of each day of the program. Instead, I’ll share with you 145 highlights, consisting mostly of exciting and thought-provoking observations from FutureMed faculty about present and near-future achievements.

  1. 3D organ printing coming as cells replace ink (Daniel Kraft)
  2. say goodbye to linear thinking (Peter Diamandis)
  3. life is now exponential and global rather than local and linear (Peter Diamandis)
  4. disruptive stress results from difference between linear expectations and exponential realities (Peter Diamandis)
  5. what happens when a billion new minds come online in two years? (Peter Diamandis)
  6. get around regulation by encouraging patients to do it to themselves (Peter Diamandis)
  7. we have the opportunity to eliminate poverty in our lifetimes (Peter Diamandis)
  8. like aluminum was only temporarily scarce, so energy and food are only temporarily scarce (Peter Diamandis)
  9. earth is a crumb in a supermarket full of resources (Peter Diamandis)
  10. our DNA is, literally not analogously, biological software (Ray Kurzweil)
  11. Moore’s Law has accelerated to 11 months per doubling (Ray Kurzweil)
  12. Moore’s Law and other exponential advances are measurements of human creativity (Ray Kurzweil)
  13. within 15 years we will be adding a year of life expectancy every year (Ray Kurzweil via Lucien Engelen)
  14. Cooper’s Law is exponential advance of spectral efficiency (Ray Kurzweil)
  15. when vacuum tubes reached size limit, Moore’s Law did not end nor will it when integrated circuits reach size limit (Ray Kurzweil)
  16. we will program intelligent artificial white blood cells to improve our immune systems (Ray Kurzweil)
  17. solar power is only eight doublings away from meeting all the world’s energy needs (Ray Kurzweil)
  18. religious institutions need to factor in what we’ve learned from science (Ray Kurzweil)
  19. religion has given us the good of golden rule (Ray Kurzweil)
  20. religions will adapt to technological change, as they long have (Ray Kurzweil)
  21. human brain did not evolve for the kind of world that’s emerging (Neil Jacobstein)
  22. we will be them and they will be us: human-machine knowledge (Neil Jacobstein)
  23. with 3D printing, the complexity is free (Ralph Merkle)
  24. manufacturing precision will reach the arrangement of atoms (Ralph Merkle)
  25. nanotech molecular engineering will give us Moore’s Law for everything (Ralph Merkle)
  26. reference to Feynman on “There’s plenty of room at the bottom” (Ralph Merkle)
  27. can the driverless car be a model for the surgeonless surgery? (Lawrence Sherman)
  28. we’re up against complexity, power and memory walls for continuing Moore’s Law (Brad Templeton)
  29. we should focus more on instructions per joule than instructions per second (Brad Templeton)
  30. you will be charged with sins of the future because pattern recognition will be applied to today’s recordings (Brad Templeton)
  31. robocars don’t need artificial human intelligence; they need artificial horse intelligence (Brad Templeton)
  32. if cars drive themselves to us, we will have cars on demand with the right vehicles for each need and save energy (Brad Templeton)
  33. trillion dollars of human productivity per year lost while driving dumb cars (Brad Templeton)
  34. robotic systems are fast and dumb today, but they are improving in awareness of and reaction to environment (Dan Barry)
  35. robotic hands can now dribble balls and catch objects flipped in the air (Dan Barry)
  36. robotic legs can move through rocky terrain and recover without falling from being pushed and kicked (Dan Barry)
  37. we will see persons choose robot companionship over human companionship, and should consider moral implications (Dan Barry)
  38. with 3D printing, it costs no more to make a complex object than a simple object (Dan Barry)
  39. print copies of patients’ spines or jaws to help them visualize problems and proposed fixes (Dan Barry)
  40. business opportunities in printing personalized home decorations (Dan Barry)
  41. we are moving quickly to smart machines and individual fabrications, away from dumb machines from mass production (Dan Barry)
  42. printed organs will mimic function, not necessarily structure (Gabor Forgacs via Lawrence Sherman)
  43. we’re moving beyond tissue engineering to organ engineering, not printing kidneys yet, but soon (Gabor Forgacs)
  44. I’m holding a vial of printed blood vessels (Lincoln Cannon)
  45. Ted Kilroy, who has paralyzed legs, is walking in front of us using a prosthetic from Berkeley Bionics (Lincoln Cannon)
  46. personal sensors provide effective feedback loops that modify behavior and improve health (Thomas Goetz)
  47. 264 years from discovering scurvy cure to general use, but the rate of cure adoption continues to accelerate (Michael Gillam)
  48. over next 12 years, the number of scholarly medical articles will double (Michael Gillam)
  49. watching a demo of Google Body (Lincoln Cannon)
  50. 1895 paper medical records not too different from modern paper medical records, including errors (Christopher Longhurst)
  51. inpatient electronic medical records will be a commodity within 5 years (Christopher Longhurst)
  52. health IT focus will shift from implementing electronic medical records to health data analytics within 5 years (Christopher Longhurst)
  53. evidence-based medicine will transition to data-driven healthcare within ten years (Christopher Longhurst)
  54. United States should legislate a unique patient identifier to facilitate health IT integration (Christopher Longhurst)
  55. apps will be prescribed just like medication (via Greg Biggers)
  56. 20% of physicians have iPad (via Yuri van Geest)
  57. drive physician adoption of data-driven healthcare by giving them data ownership and patient leads (Ron Gutman)
  58. Zipongo helps you integrate your automatically collected personal health data from FitBit and Withings
  59. try explaining to persons 30 years ago that computers are not about computing and phones are not about calling (Astro Teller)
  60. pain relievers are not used to relieve pain, but rather to augment life capacity within pain threshold (Astro Teller)
  61. body monitors should be small, multi-use platform, cost-effective for wellness, and include passive monitoring (Astro Teller)
  62. we spent huge on sequencing the human genome, and we need to spend even more on sequencing the human lifestyle (Astro Teller)
  63. body monitoring isn’t for quantifying, which we don’t want, but rather for magic environmental response to wants (Astro Teller)
  64. physicians will benefit from asking HIPAA-compliant questions on Facebook and Twitter (Lawrence Sherman)
  65. brain scans available for predicting political affiliation or inclination (David Duncan)
  66. cost per genome is decreasing at a faster rate than Moore’s Law (Ted Goldstein)
  67. privacy is important, but if we don’t learn from every patient then we are squandering life saving information (Ted Goldstein)
  68. linear descriptions of biological pathways are like flat descriptions of the earth (Eric Schadt)
  69. detecting regional diets and pathogens from sewage analysis (Eric Schadt)
  70. genome sequencing will be free within ten years (Eric Schadt)
  71. because physicians are human, they oversimplify decisions, so we need better ways of applying all available info (Peter Alperin)
  72. seven fold increase in patient compliance with treatment when patient receives personalized risk assessment (Peter Alperin)
  73. a perfect storm of accelerating factors is about to hit healthcare (Randy Scott)
  74. whole genome analysis will be part of every state-of-the-art clinical trial within five years (Randy Scott)
  75. Kaiser innovation lab is looking for multi-function med tech devices that do not reduce quality of delivering each function
  76. “the human sim” is a physiological simulation engine used by Kaiser innovation lab
  77. Kaiser innovation labs has found that training video games and simulations capture trainee attention better than alternatives
  78. Kaiser faces challenge integrating EMR with imaging systems
  79. Kaiser using Microsoft Kinect to encourage and facilitate rehabilitation, stress management, and some treatments
  80. sustainable change is based on fun, freedom and pleasure (Dean Ornish)
  81. fear cannot sustain change (Dean Ornish)
  82. fear, shame, guilt and chronic anger are the most toxic emotions (Dean Ornish)
  83. when we manage stress, exercise, eat well and have sex, we actually create new brain cells (Dean Ornish)
  84. when we manage stress, exercise, eat well and have sex, we slow the aging process (Dean Ornish)
  85. smoking makes you ugly and impotent (Dean Ornish)
  86. medicine is busy mopping up the floor around a sink that’s overflowing; we need to turn off the tap! (Dean Ornish via Eileen Bartholomew)
  87. meditation can improve gene expression (Dean Ornish)
  88. pain is not the problem; it’s the messenger (Dean Ornish via Francisco Grajales)
  89. worst thing about being depressed is you feel like you’re finally seeing things clearly for the first time (Dean Ornish via Dave deBronkart)
  90. innovation is about identifying and satisfying needs, and we should be solution-agnostic (Todd Brinton)
  91. the economics of financing medtech startups have collapsed over the last couple years (Allan May)
  92. we are building an Internet-mediated global mind (Tim O’Reilly)
  93. programmers are inside and behind all the great programs, as a man-machine symbiosis (Tim O’Reilly)
  94. we have a child together; we are raising the product of all of us connected; what do we want to teach it? (Tim O’Reilly)
  95. we’re letting this child, the global brain, run wild without thinking about consequences (Tim O’Reilly)
  96. individual attributes such as obesity can be predicted based on social network relations (James Fowler)
  97. individual moods such as happiness can also be predicted based on social network relations with smiling avatars (James Fowler)
  98. we can also predict genotypes based on social network relations (James Fowler)
  99. if knowing fit people improves health, will we see the day when fit people sell friendships? (via Dave deBronkart)
  100. we need a “Google Cell” (Michael West)
  101. we have now experimentally regenerated joints from stem cells in four weeks (Michael West)
  102. in this century, we will be able to make an individual’s cells live indefinitely (Michael West)
  103. we have an aging and healthcare tsunami coming, but we can use regenerative treatments to prevent aging (Michael West)
  104. video of paralyzed mouse given stem cell treatment and regaining partial use of limbs again after six months (Daniel Kraft)
  105. 9/10 Internet-empowered patients assess needs differently than their physicians (Lucien Engelen)
  106. patients are the resource that are most under-utilized by physicians (Dave deBronkart)
  107. patient is not a third-person word (Dave deBronkart)
  108. medicine may be the only industry where the definition of quality does not start with what the customer wants (Dave deBronkart)
  109. the traditional general hospital is not a viable business model (Dave deBronkart)
  110. value in health care comes from more persons than those that have attended medical school (Dave deBronkart)
  111. the chance to be involved is infinitely better than being passive and scared while waiting to see the gods (Dave deBronkart)
  112. how can it be that the best medical information exists outside the traditional channels? no physician can keep up (Dave deBronkart)
  113. zero cases of patients dying from googling their condition; more dangerous NOT to google (Dave deBronkart)
  114. cautionary point regarding danger of confirmation bias in patient communities, like anti-vaccination nuts (Russell Whitaker via Dave deBronkart)
  115. we need mashups of personal health info with Google Body (Dave deBronkart)
  116. we can now observe activity at 32,000 points in the brain at the same time in real time (Christopher Decharms)
  117. individuals can control chronic pain through computer-visualization and self-redirection of brain activity (Christopher Decharms)
  118. brain reading, like reconstructing vision and lie detecting, rapidly going from science fiction to reality (Christopher Decharms)
  119. imagine the feedback loop as we perpetually observe our own observation, scanning our own brains in detail and real time (Lincoln Cannon)
  120. as human bodies probably became more beautiful with mirrors, so human minds may become more beautiful with brain scans (Lincoln Cannon)
  121. with brain scans, if I want to be kind, I can seek to mimic brain scans of kind persons (Christopher Decharms)
  122. we can now excite and turn off specific neural networks in the brain with light (Philip Low)
  123. presently, 92% of neural drugs that pass animal trials still fail human trials (Philip Low)
  124. sleep disorders correlate strongly with Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and depression (Philip Low)
  125. we can now identify twins just based on brain scans (Philip Low)
  126. you can record your brain patterns while you sleep using the iBrain from NeuroVigil (Philip Low)
  127. Practice Fusion is free web-based electronic health record system (Ryan Howard)
  128. Practice Fusion EMR data is available for analysis and mashups (Ryan Howard)
  129. humans have always been biotechnologists, engineering DNA by domesticating plants and animals (Raymond McCauley)
  130. presently, individual whole genome sequencing is available for $5000 (Raymond McCauley)
  131. don’t be a genetic determinist; DNA patterns matter less than whether you drink a large glass of poison (Raymond McCauley)
  132. advances in genome sequencing are outpacing Moore’s Law (Raymond McCauley)
  133. natural cells were the first exponential technology (Andrew Hessel)
  134. DNA 2.0 processes DNA mail orders for anyone with a laptop and a credit card (Andrew Hessel)
  135. DNA writing is tracking the rate of advance in DNA sequencing, just a few years behind (Andrew Hessel)
  136. we need to train a new generation of biologists that put things together rather than take things apart (Andrew Hessel)
  137. we will increasingly see a shift from cyber-security to bio-security (Andrew Hessel)
  138. synthetic biology may be the most powerful, greatest opportunity and risk, technology available to us today (Andrew Hessel)
  139. we will soon need personal synthetic biology anti-virus systems (Lincoln Cannon)
  140. we will sell more one-way than two-way tickets to space (Dan Barry)
  141. I just performed a surgical intervention on plastic gizmos using a Da Vinci robot from Intuitive Surgical (Lincoln Cannon)
  142. in 2007 for the first time in history, there were more urban than rural humans (Eric Rasmussen)
  143. 95% of population increase by 2050 will be in slums of developing world (Eric Rasmussen via Andrew Hessel)
  144. computer tech will dramatically improve patent system within five years (Brad Pedersen)
  145. artificial intelligence will render obsolete the present patent system within twenty years (Brad Pedersen)

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