A Stream of Meaningfulness – Guest Post by Yu Du and Orlando Fernando

A Dialogue between Yu Du and Orlando Fernando

Yu and Orlando are the co-leaders of the Meaningfulness Movement. This dialogue was one of their many discussions that led to start of the movement.

The Essence

Orlando: Our search for meaning is not a luxury but a duty. For me, meaning is the substance of our joy and the expression of our power. We experience our humanity through meaning. We are the creator and inventor of our meaning; it’s a free choice, not an accident.

Yu: You are spot on about the essence of meaningfulness. We are the creator of our inner and outer worlds. Meaningfulness starts from the moment that we truly recognise the power within us and commit to take full responsibility for our life.

I’m struck by the fact that so many people are disengaged at work and feel unfulfilled in their lives. The crisis of meaning is spreading fast in our modern western society when we seem to have more freedom to define meanings than our ancestors. But why? I think one of the reasons is because we— as a society—have lost the ability to tap into the power of practical wisdom, which was one of the main functions of ancient philosophy.


O: Until the middle of the nineteenth century, philosophy was meant to help us. But then it deserted us. Philosophy no longer integrates knowledge and wisdom, and it’s become the servant of science and logic. Contemporary philosophers are busy writing articles aimed solely at academia. That exercise, however, lacks the power to offer any help toward the crisis.

Y: The failure of contemporary philosophy has prompted individuals to take more responsibilities for themselves: to think deeply and critically about their lives. We acquire wisdom through self-inquiry, through vigorous practice, through expansion of our awareness, through our intentions. That’s the ultimate source of meaningfulness. Earlier on we talked about the importance of recognition of our true power to create meanings. How do we start?

The first step: how not why

O: That depends on who we are and where we are at. One possibility is to find something that has meaning now, or that used to have meaning, and then ask the question of how it has or had meaning.

Not why, but how! Meaning is not a thing or object; it’s a process and a flow. The important thing is not to ask typical questions to “analyse” it, but to try to catch our mind in the process of creating. That’s the first step.

Y: The question of “how” is often overlooked. Some people assume that meaning is somehow hidden, and if we are lucky, it might show up and talk to us. However, if we look very carefully, and trace back to where the meaning was started, clearly it’s not from anywhere else: we are the creator of that meaning. So “how” is the first step to understand the way in which we make meaning, and to realise from our first-hand experience that we as individuals create meaning, no one else. With just this simple realisation, I believe we can create a big shift in many aspects of our lives.

O: Agree. I want to stress the point that meaning is a process. We need to “catch” the mind at the beginning of its creation, and be fully conscious of its dynamism and flow. Meaning is also about taking responsibility and learning how to do it better with greater sense of deliberation. It’s not just being mindful, much more than that.

Meaningfulness and Mindfulness

Y: Interesting that you mention about mindfulness! Mindfulness is about the expansion of our awareness. There is this misperception that “being aware” is enough. Well, I disagree. “Being aware” is just the starting point, and it doesn’t lead to change automatically; only when reflective awareness also takes place and we consciously make the choice to take action, then we see the real shift occurring. I think that’s the power of meaningfulness: it’s a complete process to truly express our creativity.

O: Yes! That’s a crucial point: meaningfulness is about creativity. It is not just observation, but also doing, changing, improving with enthusiasm and joy.


Y: By no means is this an easy process. It requires tremendous patience, enthusiasm and consistent practise. I remember we talked in length about developing practical tools to help people in this process. I know you have been working on creating a meditation practise lately.

O: Meditation has become such a buzzword; it’s everywhere, but lots of people only understand it on a superficial level. Meditation is a state of consciousness. There is no better or worse form of meditation. In fact, every moment of our existence is an opportunity to become aware of the fact that we are in a meditative state. The skill of meditation is to direct the power of the mind in a chosen direction, or an object, or a condition.

“Meaningfulness Meditation” is a guided meditation with seven steps. It is designed to help people to enter into a meditative state by concentrating on meaning through the process of thought construction. By tapping into the power of the mind while in a state of concentration, insights and wisdom emerge, and it’s a very empowering experience.


Yu Du futureproofYu Du and Orlando Fernando started the Meaningfulness Movement to create a community with a mission: to create and live meaningful lives. They plan to grow the community through discussions, workshops, events, retreats, tears, laughter, silence and much more.

Entry Point—Ethical Hacking Goes Mainstream – Guest Post By Jennifer Arcuri

There’s a worldwide war underway, and without exception, every man, woman and child is under attack. Are you worried? Possibly, although it’s more likely that you’ll feel apathetic towards the vicious battle that surrounds you. Despite the prevalence, persistence, and devastating consequences of digital crime, as well as the constant peddling of a dystopian future on TV, radio, social media and film, many of us are happy – for now at least – to sleepwalk right through it. The speedy acceptance of the phrase “privacy is dead” sums up the collective apathy towards cyber security, a one-­‐way conflict that we are losing, badly.

It goes without saying that we – governments, corporates, and civilians – need to wake up. Binary constructs of ‘0’s and ‘1’s circulating in the cloud might appear innocuous, but in the wrong hands can severely damage, even obliterate, the very infrastructure upon which we rely for our day-­‐to-­‐day existence. Critical data, networking systems, security functions, can be deleted or changed in the momentary click of a return key.

We are living in a port driven society where almost every John and Jane in the first world, and much of the second, has a smart phone, PC, and tablet. All of these devices are connected in one single cloud, allowing each individual to function in their own telecoms network. But as technology becomes smarter, more connected, ever pervasive and proliferating, the risks to our personal security rise exponentially – it only takes one weak link in the chain for disaster to become a reality.

Are things really that bad?

Thankfully, people are starting to wake up to the fact that digital privacy and security is something to be valued and nurtured.

It may be that cyber crime is only just beginning to touch our everyday lives. For some reason, buried deeply in the human psyche, many of us think nothing of governments being hacked. Perhaps we believe it doesn’t really affect us. When familiar corporates, such as Target, eBay, PayPal, Anthem, get hacked, more people sit up and take notice – after all, these are companies we do business with everyday. Hacking is closer to home.

It’s not long before malicious hacks erase or manipulate normal citizens’ data. We live in a world that is increasingly driven by an online community. All of our devices link to an amorphous network. Our data is in the cloud. Health records, banking details, identities, all are vulnerable. Soon hacking victims will not only be those read about in the newspaper, but relatives, friends, work colleagues. You. Apathy has a price and the cost is becoming clearer.

In this new era of cyber crime, we’re all exposed, but most of us lack the appropriate protection or knowledge to combat the threat. When these networks get hacked (and they will be), the civilian population will get hurt, and governments, their agencies, and industry will be blamed.

Inaction is our worst enemy

Even as I write these lines, I find the subject of cyber security daunting to approach. But we can no longer be put off by great tasks or fear. The point of this essay must be made, and above all, heard.

I organise, manage and run tech events under the Innotech Summit brand. My team and I bring together leaders in the fields of technology, finance and politics to discuss the impact of a digital future and to action change. Content-­‐wise, it’s mostly awe-­‐inspiring, innovative, fun, and positive. But it’s not all good. There’s an undeniably nasty undercurrent of dread that goes hand in hand with technological progress – an anxiety that we can’t keep up with our own creations. People are concerned. And it’s not just the tech nerds and security agencies. The woman and man on the street are worried too.

That’s why cyber security is a recurring theme at all of my events. The fact that we can no longer hide from cyber threats is an open secret – but it’s getting late to address the issue.

We need an active defence strategy and soldiers on the front line – now. But the reality is that those with the power to employ skilled ‘soldiers’ and direct resources effectively are failing to do so. Is this inaction a manifestation of the paralysing fear of an encroaching cyber security doomsday? Perhaps. But my experience, gathered as a representative on numerous government trade missions and an attendee of some of the biggest international security events, tells me that it’s because those in power fear accountability for making the bold decisions necessary to take us towards a secure future.

A digital neighbourhood watch

My objective here is to highlight the importance of ethical hackers – of which there are many thousands around the globe – as well as hacking in general.

Hacking. A word capable of sending shivers down spines, disapproving looks across rooms, and eyebrows into furrowed foreheads. It’s a word that we need to revisit, because in an ethical context, hacking is capable of being the solution we so desperately need.

Let me explain.

There is great merit in empowering technically competent civilians to take notice of security threats, and a huge opportunity for the authorities to engage with them. But here lies the big misunderstanding – my experience of working with people on both sides of this divide demonstrates that all hackers are lumped into the same ‘vigilante’ category. Sadly, this means that the community spirit potential of a digital neighbourhood watch scheme is overlooked completely.

At a recent Innotech Summit event, Legislating Lulzsec, the ethics of hacking and what we are doing to better prepare the next generation of digital natives was discussed openly. The purpose was not to focus on the potential criminality of hacking, but to ask the question of whether we can use such skills to benefit and protect civilians, companies and governments. The resounding conclusion, unsurprisingly, was yes – that skilled individuals are the soldiers we need to work on the front line, helping people and organisations to identify and ‘patch’ (essentially, rectify) their cyber weaknesses in order to ensure a safe and secure digital presence.

The discussion then evolved into how we can engage, involve, and apply a network of digitally adept, ethically committed individuals to meet the skills deficit. And a deficit it most certainly is – the accelerating litany of security breaches in government and industry alike makes this clear and impossible to ignore.

We see the early signs now. Governments and branches of the military around the globe are recruiting elite cyber security troops. Unfortunately, they’re using the same approach that’s worked for the recruitment of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel — the mentality is that the ‘best of the best’ are corporate, conformist types that have graduated from MIT or Stanford.

The bulk of cyber talent, however, does not fit into such a limited category. Many of the real geniuses are kids who never finished school or college, thrive in online rather than offline communities, and shudder at the thought of desk jobs. As a result, recruitment targets are being missed. Moreover, the police and non-­‐military branches of those same governments are hell-­‐bent on criminalising, prosecuting, and imprisoning these types of hackers. While it is right to punish crime, we must focus on creating a culture that recognises and understands the hacker mind-­‐set, and provides opportunities for such talent to be directed towards something good – ethical hacking.

Hacking – the good, the bad, and the just plain wrong

But before we can even begin to fill the skills void, we must define – and defend – ‘ethical hacking’. This requires all previous taboo-­‐like notions of ‘hacking’, most of which spring from media-­‐hyped stories that revolve around bad guys stealing information and disrupting networks, to be packed up and put away. Indeed, ‘to hack’, as a verb, means to break into something – an undeniably negative connotation. But it’s time to draw a line in the sand, for hacking is not the same as ethical hacking, a compound noun which has a completely different meaning.

Let’s break it down. ‘Ethics’ – the easy one – can be defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad in the context of generally expected societal behaviour, an established line in what defines moral obligation. Quite simply, ‘ethics’ defines what is ‘right’ in any given situation.

The ‘hacking’ extension is more complex. There are many reasons to justify the ‘breaking and entering’ implied by hacking, and it’s easy to understand why it is considered illegal and wrong. The notion that all information should be free and that there is no such thing as intellectual property is no basis for justifying hacking. The system in which we live, and from which the majority benefit, would break down without IP protection.

Defining ethical hacking is a little more complex, of course. Some hackers say that they do no harm – they don’t hack to cause damage but to ‘have a go’ at system security work. This, it could be agued, is okay to an extent. There is even some validity in the oft-­‐claimed hacker motivation of ‘keeping big brother at bay’.

However, hackers that make use of idle time on the computers of others, even without looking at private data, have crossed the line. Such behaviour is clearly theft – remote intruders are not in a position to qualify whether another person’s system is being under or over used.

The ethical minefield gets worse from here. For example, there is a fundamental argument that says some computer break-­‐ins are in the interest of the public or greater good, and therefore justified (if not ethical) in the eyes of the hacker. To them, if they fail to take action on security threats, the software developer or network will not act, leading to further vulnerabilities that would inevitably cause greater destruction down the line.

There is a degree of justification to this argument – patching is critical. However the proper authorities need to be involved to ensure that data protection ethics are controlled and enforced (the problems here are who is responsible for controlling these authorities, and what happens when the only way to beat the bad guys is to… but we’ll save that for another day).

What is ethical hacking?

I define ethical hacking as the authorised search for the source of a problem with a moral obligation to patch the security vulnerability in the best interests of a client or system.

An analogy I often use to explain this is of a thug stabbing an innocent victim with a stiletto (a hacker) and a surgeon cutting a patient open in an operating theatre (an ethical hacker). Malicious hacking is carried out on an unwilling victim and can cause untold damage to a system. Ethical hacking, on the other hand, is undertaken with full approval and is designed to locate the source of a problem, or potential problem, to fix it.

To extend this metaphor, just like the surgeon is qualified, licensed, and under a moral and ethical duty to defend a patient’s life, an ethical hacker, whose programming and coding ‘qualifications’ are best gained through experience, should have the avenues available to be licensed to secure and defend systems in the ever-­‐growing cloud – a cloud that no longer contains computers, but phones, cameras, door locks, light switches, baby monitors, glasses…(the impact of have one’s home hacked by the bad guys is truly terrifying).

Ethical hackers understand their place in a rapidly changing society and know that being part of the humanity collective requires being responsible for their actions and decisions on-­‐ and off-­‐line. They are best placed to protect us, since they understand better than anyone else what happens when everything is connected.

The solution is to promote ethical hacking and support ethical hackers, while encouraging a paradigm shift in the attitude toward it. We can only build and execute a defensive strategy to fight cyber criminals by being offensive, and this entails bringing in those who ‘do what the bad guys do’, but wear white hats while doing it. And public policy needs to embrace them, to give out the Sheriff’s deputy badge.

Your country needs you

Every computer has around 60,000 ports. Ports are like entryways and doors to a home. Some of which admit more traffic than others. Who has keys to the house? What happens when someone breaks in? Which doors are vulnerable? Can the house be made more secure by a home security expert or the police?

We urgently need ethical hackers to be on the look out for digital vulnerabilities (with complete authorised permission, of course) so that they can be patched before the bad guys get in. Those in government and industry must ensure that every civilian is aware of the threats that surround them, is educated in basic security and able to run system scans, and has access to ethical hackers.

This means that we need to raise, educate, and train generations of #digitalnatives –the momentum and intensity required to actively keep up with cyber security threats ensures that we have no option. The principles of ethical hacking must be taught to kids everywhere, in the same way that road safety is instilled from an early age. Universities and after school groups should be encouraged and incentivised to organise ethical hacker clubs – places where its cool to learn and practice ethical hacking. In short, public policy, security, and academic institutions need to promote, support, and enable ethical hackers.

We cannot give up the fight for cyber security. The lifetime efforts and struggles –career, family, savings, work – of everyday people can be wiped out in a moment without it. We must respect and value this information to the maximum extent possible within the data constructs. We continue to live in a society where the integrity of information is assured in order to maintain and encourage investment.

If we ignore the threat, we will soon be living in a society where concatenating disasters will drive hurried and urgent attention to cyber security knowledge as one of the pillars of education in a modern digital society. If we start now, we can smooth the path. Let’s start now. Let’s start training our digital natives to respect the Internet, the cloud, what’s visible in the browser… and what’s behind it.

Governments? Are you listening?


Jennifer Arcuri futureproof cyber securityJennifer Arcuri, Founder, The Hacker House


Short term: Trust vs Distrust – What is at stake for brands, corporations and executives? Guest Post by @Olivcim

In my eyes and in the wake of the disruptive digital force shaping our present and near future, building and nurturing trust and influence with all your stakeholders is one of the very key issues that any executive should put first on his/her strategic agenda. As a crystal-clear proof, take a look at The Edelman Trust Barometer, which has been substantiating this critical trend for almost 15 years. In many countries and not only Western, there is a sustainable and growing distrust towards politicians, media but also companies and anyone else embodying the “establishment” or the official “knowledge”. With its lowered technological barriers and the ease of creating transnational relationships, brands and corporations live in a networked society that totally reshuffles the cards at a blistering pace. Citizens can get access to much more information than they were allowed in the past. As a direct consequence, it also raises awareness about the on-going issues and makes things trickier to hide or manipulate.

This assessment matters for corporate brands as well as product brands. People no longer take things for granted when a brand or a corporation speaks. People require to be heard and involved in projects that impact their own lives, backyards or aspirations. People expect to be part of the solution. As an example, you can refer to palm oil. People are increasingly paying attention to social and environmental topics. Consumer goods firm Unilever, acting on the demands of tens of thousands of consumers, is committed to purchasing all of its palm oil from sustainably produced sources by the end of this year (2015). And if you try to fiddle, the likelihood of being caught in the act is higher and higher. Especially by activists and NGO who are at the cutting edge of digital connectivity.

A few years ago, fostering trust was probably a bit simpler as the main intermediary was the journalist. The latter has become suspect for many reasons. Among them, narrative bias, sensationalist reporting or complacency with the mightiest (politicians, corporations, governments, etc.) are often fiercely criticized. This is why nowadays it is not enough to only focus on them although media relations remain pivotal in a strategy. You must talk and actively listen to NGOs, groups of interest, regulators, employees or anybody concerned by your activities. If you don’t do that, you put your reputation at risk and might trigger distrust against your activities.

The incredible Volkswagen fraud story provides a relevant case study. For several years, this company has hammered strong messages about “clean diesel” at the corporate and brand levels towards consumers; but also to their own collaborators and the various stakeholders in the markets in which they’ve been operating. It turns eventually out that the company cheated on purpose by using a specific software reducing gas emissions on demand during approval tests. Despite millions and millions spent on advertising and public relations, it shows that cosmetic communication is pointless. Even worse, it generates distrust at the end of the day. And today, the German car manufacturer has to fight not only against justice, regulators and media but also car dealers, car owners, NGOs, class action groups who loudly express their concerns.

Nowadays, almost anybody is able to know something and unveil it all over the world through social networks, online petitions or even whistleblowing platforms because they want to call to action. From now on, the challenge is therefore to restore the damaged trust and reputation of the company by acknowledging what needs to be said, by taking concrete actions to abide by the laws but also by proactively listening to the concerned stakeholders and meeting some of their requirements. It will take time and money but there is no loophole. Sacking the CEO was a good first decision for Volkswagen, but the controversy is far from being over. Today, they are under close scrutiny from whoever is concerned. They will have to make the right decisions leading to a refurbished but trustworthy reputation. And I bet my two cents that similar stories will occur at other companies if distrust remains at these high levels. The winners will be those inspiring trust by leveraging a smart dialogue with their stakeholders.

Olivier-Cimeliere futureproofOlivier Cimelière
CEO Heuristik Communications, a consultancy based in Paris
Author of “Le Blog du Communicant” (in French)

Disruption Via Big Data Analytics – Guest Post By Lutz Finger

Disruption is a big word. I see many startups that want to be ‘disruptive’. But very rarely we see disruption happening suddenly. Big changes do not happen over night. A lot of industries are about to change due to data. We saw in the last 10 years a lot of advancements in the way how we store and process information. This has created the potential for change by predicting the future. Data by itself is useless but using pattern many companies aim to improve their business or to create even a disruptive idea. For disruption to happen we will need two main parts:

  1. Data is king. Yes, the internet has changed the retail industry but more important it has created a competitive barrier to enter. The world will be soon divided between companies who have data and companies who have not. We will see private equity funds coming that focus only on buying data-heavy assets as well as the revival of the utility companies as they discover their data assets. (Boring is the new sexy)
    Lutz Finger Big Data Analytics
  2. Mindshift – or an broken and ineffective system. Incumbents often have a great headstart with data, but they do not use it – thus others do. Why did google buy Nest? To get data access into your house. Why didn’t the Utility companies install smart devices at the home? They did not know that they could have this data or that data can be useful.

The Media industry has changed! The retail industry has change! The Education sector is changing! Which industry will be next? Looking at VC money. The healthcare sector. It fits the structure: there is a lot of data and a broken system.

By Lutz Finger


Lutz Finger futureproofLUTZ FINGER is Data Scientist in residence at Cornell University and author of the book “Ask Measure Learn”. He is an authority on data analytics and teaches at Harvard Business School a course about Data Driven Thinking. As director at LinkedIn he oversees internal data products as well as LinkedIn’s Economic Graph Challenge.

LUTZ is a highly regarded technology executive and a popular public speaker on business analytics. As co-founder and former CEO of Fisheye Analytics, a media data-mining company, he supported governments and NGOs with data insights. Fisheye Analytics was acquired by the WPP group.

He serves as an advisor at several data-centric corporations in the United States and publishes a Forbes Column. He has an MBA from INSEAD, as well as an MS in quantum physics from TU Berlin (Germany).

The Disruption of Energy Storage – Guest post by Brandon Ng

While press and overall hype on energy storage has increased notably – hardly an article on renewable energy is written without the mention of energy storage – energy storage is not an intrinsically new or novel concept. Pumped storage hydro (PSH) stations – where water is pumped up an incline to into a large reservoir or body of water when the supply of energy exceeds demand, and released through turbines when demand for energy exceeds supply – have been around since the late nineteenth-century.

Pumped Storage Hydro

The predominant issues with PSH stations are twofold:

  1. its economics only make sense when done at a grid-wide, utility scale; and
  2. in order for PSH stations to be cost competitive, they can only be developed in areas where the necessary topographical features – landscape height and availability of water – already exist.

Energy Storage Systems

As such, the ‘revolution’ in energy storage today isn’t its invention as much it is the widespread adoption of ‘micro’ energy storage systems (ESSs) without geographic limitations and/or by non-utilities: the industrial, commercial and residential sectors.

The most obvious and widely documented application of such ‘micro’ ESSs is in the continuous provision of energy generated by rooftop solar PV panels or small wind turbines. It could be said that both these forms of generating renewable energy are novelties the developed world, where grid electricity is for the most part, reliable and affordable (relative to incomes). However for many communities that lack access to grid-electricity altogether, usually for geopolitical or economic reasons, solar and/or wind-based power generation are the only cost effective means of electrification. It is in such communities where energy storage systems are both necessary and transformative in the provision of continuous electricity, one of the pillars of the modern first-world.

In parts of the world where reliable, grid-based electricity is prevalent, whether the market for ESSs shifts from utility-scale ESSs for power providers to ‘micro’ ESSs in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors remains to be seen. If the landscape for ESS products does change, two major factors are likely to cause such a shift: government policy and the stance which utilities take on innovation, be it on business model or on technology.

Intra-day Pricing

Take the concept of variable intra-day pricing of electricity for example: the notion that the value of electricity varies within a 24 hour day as a reflection of the ever changing relationship between supply and demand for electricity. Yet fixed-rate tariffs – often linked to prescriptive government policies – are still a pervasive (although not universal) feature across many major market segments. In implementing such price control mechanisms, the impetus to deploy energy generation or storage assets to match real time supply against demand shifts to the power providers.

If, on the other hand, the intra-day price of electricity is allowed to vary in correlation to its intrinsic value (as determined by market economics), then a case for grid-connected ESSs that are deployed by the end users themselves, may exist. Such ESSs would allow users to purchase power during off-peak periods when it is most economically favourable to do so, and consume (or even sell back to the utility operators) during peak periods, when it energy is most valuable. This process is called ‘time-shift arbitrage’. At risk of grossly oversimplifying a complex issue, the implementation of variable intra-day energy pricing in market segments where it is not already adopted is likely to be driven by government policies as a means of reducing energy consumption and the nation’s carbon footprint.

Market changes

A host of technical and structural market changes are of course, required before this can be universally realised, two obvious ones being:

  1. an increase in the overall price of energy (either due to high commodity prices or the pricing in of the environmental impact of energy generation); and/or
  2. either a decrease in the cost or an increase in the finite service life of today’s ESSs.

Great strides have been made by policy makers and energy storage companies on both, although the value proposition offered by ESSs as an enabler for time-shift arbitrage is still today, limited. However if current trends are an indication, this is the exciting reality we can reasonably expect to live in the near future. One where a broad, distributed network of micro ESSs are integrated into the fabric of modern, 21st century households to ultimately provide cheaper, more reliable and more sustainable power.


Brandon Ng futureproof energy storageBrandon Ng 
Co-founder, CEO at Ampd Energy
(rebranded from QFE)

Brandon’s profile on Linkedin

The Disruption Of Genomics – Guest Post by Dr Brad Worrall and Stephen R Williams

A decade ago, sequencing the over 3 billion bases of the human genome, which gave birth to the field of modern “Genomics”, was a disruptive force in science and technology that changed the way we think about disease forever. The development of this technology has led to the sequencing of 100+ eukaryotic and prokaryotic species including not only homo sapien and close relatives such as the Neanderthal but also e.coli, HIV, mouse, chimp, and a host of other organisms. Today, we are so efficient at generating these data that sequencing a human genome in a couple of days is the norm and digital interpretations of these genomes have been performed tens of thousands of times over. While generating human genomic sequences, and to a lesser extent analyzing the digital readout of these genomes, has become commonplace, the impact of this information on society on the whole is just starting to be felt. The impact on society and specifically the field of healthcare is a building wave that will soon take shape as a disruptive force in clinical education, day-to-day practice, and the financial infrastructure behind our healthcare system.

Individual sequencing

For an individual to have his or her genome sequenced today the cost is ~$1000 USD with the cost per “base” falling every day as this technology becomes more and more ubiquitous. This technology has the potential to benefit millions, if not billions, of people worldwide but as the cost drops individuals will undoubtedly come to the clinic at a higher and higher rate having their genome sequenced prior to the recommendation of any healthcare worker which will change the current paradigm of “have disease/syndrome get sequenced” to “already sequenced, what can this tell me about my disease risk?” The question is, ‘how will this disrupt the current way medicine is practiced and markets are branded?’

The academic conundrum

Currently, the average amount of hours that a typical medical school student spends training in genomics is limited, excluding those specializing as clinical geneticists. However, the field of genomics is so rapidly expanding that it is almost impossible for curricula to keep up despite the impact that this information will have on day-to-day jobs in medicine. The need for an uptick in education of clinical partners in healthcare has become ever important. These would include clinically certified geneticists, genetic counselors, medical geneticists, and bioinformaticians. The latter is an extremely under filled position that would benefit any and all healthcare institution in the years and decades to come as genomic information available in the clinic becomes more common place. However, are the decision-makers, both public and private, willing to make an investment in the short-term to prepare for the wave of genomic information that will inevitably hit the clinic? Also, do we as a community have the motivation to retroactively train individuals who are already in practice?

The wider impact of genomics

In chronic disease treatment there is an established model of the ‘case manager’. Initially a nurse reaches out to help a patient that has chronic disease. Next, the patient is assisted through the process of checkups, screenings, and treatment until the disease is not present or no longer manageable. The case manager leads this process. As genomics becomes more and more disruptive would our healthcare system benefit from a genetic information manager? How will individuals process this information outside of contact with a genetic counselor (someone who is dedicated to this) who is typically called upon by referral? Should this information be processed in a family-wise fashion? One’s genomic information affects everyone in their family tree and these dynamics can be complicated and outside the training of today’s genetic and genomic specialists. Further, who pays for this “pre-disease” counseling which could be both emotional and biological?

Dropping costs

As costs drop and individuals seek out this information on their own marketing, branding, and drug-genome interaction awareness becomes important. We already know that pharma-genomic information is profoundly important. For example Azathiaprine, given to an individuals with a specific genetic variant, is associated with a lethal side effect. In fact it is considered malpractice to not check the status of enzyme function by genetic testing of TMPT. The HIV drug Abacavir works well except for the fact that it will kill some individuals carrying a specific genetic variant. In unselected patients, 5-8% develop a potentially deadly hypersensitivity reaction within the first 6 weeks of antiretroviral therapy. Prospectively screening individuals for the risk variants (HL-B*5701 status) prior to starting therapy costs ~$17/person and avoids the far more expensive and deadly hypersensitivity reactions in more than 500 people for every 10,000 treated. Clinical practice and insurance coverage rapidly included this step. This has been hailed as model for adoption of a pharmacogenomics test.

Beneficial effects

These types of interactions will encourage pharma companies to develop a genetic test at the same time as the drug where the standard of care may be to test for the genetic variant along with prescription. Further genetic and genomics studies can actually help companies directly market to consumers as the individual becomes more intimate with their genome. This will cut down marketing to target by genotype, could potentially, avoid life threatening side effects and liability

Financials of Genomics

This leads us to the financial aspect of genomics that will certainly be a disruptive force in healthcare. Even though the costs of generating genomic information are at an all-time low, because of the relatively few diseases that can be specifically diagnosed from a genomic test insurance companies have not bought into the idea of covering the sequence of each individual genome as a good practice in preventive medicine. Thus, the out of pocket cost for the patient remains high. So, this leaves us with another question, ‘What is the cost/benefit of having healthy people receive their genomic information given the lack of understanding of the diseases that cause the most healthcare burden worldwide (ie vascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes)?

The ethical issues

As with any technological innovation, the genomic revolution and implementation of genomics in clinical care has raised a slew of ethical issues related to genetic privacy (who can and cannot have access to genomic data – patients, families, spouses, employers), ownership (who controls what can and cannot be done with my genetic information – research, commercialization, public health), impact on family members (does the fact that my genetic information has relevance to my relatives give them any rights to know or not to know), and perhaps most acutely, the right not to know or to change my mind about knowing. On a very small scale, the story of the discovery of the gene implicated in Huntington disease has relevance. Prior to the genetic variant being known, ¾ of at risk individuals claimed a desire to know their genetic status, but once the test became available fewer than ¼ have chosen to get testing. The ability to decide whether to know or not may be more important to many than the actual knowing.

The legal / patent issue

Genomics provides ample opportunity for branding which we already see. Companies, hospitals, and clinics position themselves at the vanguard claiming cutting edge practice and innovation. A quick perusal of the New York Times Magazine demonstrates multiple healthcare systems are touting their use of genomics to target cancer treatment, tailor therapy, and identify risk. On the other hand, broadly available genome-wide data has substantial implications for companies that patented genomic information (e.g. Myriad Genomics for BRCA1), a controversial practice. Both the United States Supreme Court in 2013 and the Australian High Court in 2015 ruled that naturally occurring DNA sequences are ineligible for patents. In the European Union, some genomic sequences can still be patented, but with specific criteria. Nearly all Latin American countries have banned patents on genetic sequences. The situation in Asia is less clear. Broad availability of whole genome data will undoubtedly challenge the tenability of at least diagnostic genomic patents on a practical level.

The future prospects…

What are the avenues that excite us? The science driving this disruptive force continues to evolve and change. We have gone from individual genetic tests, the genome-wide association studies, to exome sequencing (cheaper but incomplete way to get genetic information), whole genome sequencing, and now a raft of other -omics (epigenomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and metagenomics) will be added to the mix and interact with genetic information creating an exponential growth of information. Under the current standard for clinical investigation, physicians and other practitioners tend to take a stepwise process going from more focused and targeted testing to broader methods. Broad scale availability of whole genome sequencing at an attainable price, will upend this process and may in fact eliminate other intermediary technologies.


Brad Worrall genomics FutureproofBradford B. Worrall, MD, MSc
Harrison Distinguished Teaching Professor and
Vice-Chair for Clinical Research of Neurology
and Professor of Public Health Sciences
University of Virginia

Stephen R Williams futureproofStephen R. Williams, PhD
Assistant Research Professor
Department of Neurology
University of Virginia​


How Disruptive Is Climate Change? Guest post by Giles Gibbons

Let’s start with a definition of Climate Change: for me, I describe it as the reduction of resources used by a company in order to create a sustainable business. As such, I think that Climate Change is not a disruptive force, at least not as a standalone item. It is only when it’s linked to other forces that the disruption occurs. For instance, Uber is a tech disruptor first that comes with a massive impact on climate change. Over the years, we have seen that attitudes with regard to climate change have been very slow in evolving. Recycling has grown in a fairly uniform way over the past 15-20 years. Yes, we see climate change entering into the psyche and business plans, but it is not a disruptive manner. If there is disruption, it comes because Silicone Valley companies have disrupted an industry and, as a by-product, there has been an impact on climate change. If climate change is about using ever less resources in a more astute and efficient manner, it is an ever-present challenge for businesses. We are not just referring to saving environmental resources; but, we are looking at reducing water bills, electricity costs, etc. It’s an evolutionary and ongoing business challenge.

When we look at the Silicone Valley innovations that have made such waves in various industries, the business models are being disrupted and, in many cases, we have been receiving a major windfall for climate change. The point is that, while many of these initiatives are climate change positive, very few start out with Climate Change as the disrupting fuse. [my term!] Maybe Elon Musk’s Tesla is the best counter example. However, for the most part, the corollary is that there is a lot more money floating around for investments in social impact.

On the side of CSR, employees and clients are both aware. However, it is rarely critical to the decision-making. CSR is a component, but an ever reducing part, in our experience. At Nike, for example, it is the CFO who has taken charge of CSR, where it is all about driving a sustainable business. The equation leads with resource and cost reduction. Afterwards, such actions contribute to a positive image for the company. I like to say that CSR provides a broad hue from the consumers’ perspective.

To the extent I am positive about the human being’s power to solve problems, I think that we will come up with solutions for the challenges of climate change and finite natural resources. For example, we see that solar power energy will become two times more powerful within the next 24 months. With the same timeframe, energy storage will become 10x more effective. These advancements will of course bring with them other challenges, but from a business perspective the need to reduce energy costs will remain similarly pertinent over the long term.

Bottom line, we are already on a positive journey with regard to climate change. There will be iconic moments that may alter and shape the narrative, but the need to adapt to climate change is old news. Any potential disruption will occur first and foremost for businesses that are directly in energy. Secondly, there are complementary businesses — such as transportation — that rely heavily on the consumption of these energies.

Giles Gibbons futureproof climate changeGiles Gibbons, CEO and Founder of Good Business, author of “Good Business: Your World Needs You” (on Amazon)

The Technology Based Restaurant – Guest post by Giles Morgan

The low hum was faint at first, slowly getting louder the more you concentrated on the sound, until eventually the black object broke over the horizon at first looking like a Blackhawk helicopter from a Hollywood blockbuster movie, then as it moved in a regimented fashion up and down the vines, its identity was revealed as a drone. Creating wine used to be about experience, gut-instinct and soil to name a few things guaranteeing a successful crop. Now its sensors, data, software and of course drones. Fitted with multispectral and visual sensors, these Drones collect multitudes of data determining the health of the vineyard (e.g. Crop Vigor) whilst on the ground, other sensors monitor temperature and soil. When the process gets to the bottling stage, an NFC (near-field communication) label is produced and placed on the bottle to be read throughout the supply chain from producer to logistics through customs and then to wholesale and finally the restaurant.

The restauranteur checks her cloud-based online platform and sees a visual representation of her food and wine stock supply chain. Three days previous, she had ordered a resupply of exotic ingredients for her head chef and can see where those supplies are in real-time on her interactive map. A warning notification pops up on her SiteSage Energy & Asset Management system alerting her that the temperature in one of the freezers in the restaurant kitchen is decreasing and that she has three hours to move supplies to another unit. Given that Restaurants use up to three times more energy than traditional commercial enterprises, the restauranteur is pleased to see that she has saved 10% energy in the last quarter. Sensors in the fridges allow her to see that there is enough spare capacity in the remaining fridges and organises for the food to be moved.

The restaurant manager arrives and fires up his Microsoft MICROS mTablet. He views analytical data on the previous day’s trading through the EPOS system. He then checks out the real-time view of the restaurant bookings for the day and sees several tables available during the first cover, at the click of a button, he pushes a marketing campaign into the Open Table mobile application to drive bookings. He analyses the evening reservations and wait lists, as well as the sales and inventory data. He uses the insights from this data to automatically update his staff coming in for the lunchtime session, a notification is also autonomously pushed to a group of temporary waitresses via the restaurants mobile employee app offering a shift this evening. The manager receives an almost instant notification from Sarah (a temporary waitress registered on the employee app) and the shift is confirmed back to her.

All the servers in the restaurant are equipped with mobile devices that can send orders directly to the kitchen. The craft beer and wine bottles (including the wine bottles from the vineyard) arrive and are lined up in the bar. The restaurant uses SteadyServ iKeg for managing their array of beers. Sensors attached to each keg tracks the type and style of beer, when it was delivered to the restaurant, when it was opened and of course when it will run dry. Spirits in the restaurant use smart spouts from BarVision that helps provide data insight from each pour. Everything is precisely monitored and integrated with EPOS (Electronic Point of Sales) systems.

On arrival from the logistics courier, each box is scanned and the data is uploaded to the cloud. Instant personalised emails are sent to relevant customers booked in for today offering them the chance to pre-order their favourite beer or wine before arriving, the drink list is automatically produced for the bar tender so that a seamless customer experience is created. A further email will be automatically sent to the customer after their evening offering them the opportunity to purchase a case of the wine or craft beer they enjoyed.

The doors open for lunch; every day when the doors open a bot fires a tweet to all the restaurants followers on Twitter with a link to today’s menu and a few special offers targeted at filling unsold tables over the next 7 days.

Customers start to arrive and as usual, people change their mind around which tables to sit at, the waitress checks her mobile tablet and with the swipe of a finger moves the customer to another table automatically rearranging the tables which don’t already have customers.

The couple sit down and use their mobile phones and apps such as Secret DJ to request their favourite music during their meal, requests are queued on the restaurants sound system and played in order, falling back on a playlist should there be a lack of requests.

Their drinks arrive immediately as they have already pre-ordered. The waitress hands the customers their mini slim line tablets which act as their menu’s. With every order, the menu is automatically updated removing customer disappointment if a particular item has sold out, in fact they won’t even know as it is silently removed from the screen.

According to Gartner, 6.4 Billion connected devices will be in use in 2016 with a staggering 5.5 million devices connecting every day and this will reach 20.8 billion devices by 2020. The Internet of Things (IoT) will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016. Finally, by 2020 Gartner believes more than half of Major New Business Processes and Systems will incorporate some element of the Internet of Things.

Exciting times lie ahead with the use of IoT in many industries, that’s for sure. However, not without its dangers especially around security, and with so many devices connected comes the opportunity for hackers to use these devices to launch DDoS attacks which we have already seen in 2016. In addition to this, it’s important to remember the importance of having a robust management platform to monitor and support these large scale connected networks.

As a technologist and innovator, I’m excited by this revolution, if it also removes the disappointment of a corked bottle of wine or helps me discover new foods then even better. Chin! Chin!


Giles Morgan futureproofGiles Morgan,
Global Digital Leader |
Global TAS at EY ‘Misfit & Innovator’ M&A

​Diversity & Inclusion – Guest post by Michael Stuber

What should be seen as a business case and common sense turns out to be a long-lasting challenge for people and organisations

While differences have always existed in societies and certainly in business organisations, the phenomenon of diversity has become a disruptive force over the past 25 years. The end of the East-West-Divide, in combination with the emergence of the Internet, initiated not only the Third Industrial Revolution, but also a fundamental paradigm shift in the way many people live and work (together), at least in the Western world. Changes include an unprecedented growth in individuality (and hence diversity), a strong preference for multi-cultural environments (including the workplace), and multiple new ways of collaboration and communication. To that end, all levels of human cognition have been impacted, which provides huge opportunities for the business world but also challenges.

Reaping the disruptive value of Diversity

In order to realise benefits from diversity, the value-chain of Diversity & Inclusion needs to be managed carefully and ideally in a systematic way: Differences can only be turned into competitive advantage when openness prevails – individually and in the organisational culture – and inclusive processes, behaviour and communication are applied. The benefits of getting this value-creation process right have been proven by 205 robust studies portrayed in the International Business Case Report. Some studies highlight that in order for diversity to add value, a healthy conflict, e.g. through minority dissent, is required. This hint for existing challenges is only the tip of an iceberg, nowadays discussed under the headline of Unconscious Biases.

Hindering the productive disruption of Diversity

While the term ‘Unconscious Bias’ most often describes specific types of implicit associations, my analysis of existing research from the past decades suggests that it serves perfectly to describe six types of biases in three areas that have one thing in common: Making it hard for individuals, teams and organisations to tap into the potential of Diversity by consistently practicing Inclusion. The main categories of Unconscious Biases that are of immediate relevance to Diversity Management include personal / human preference for sameness, stereotypes about ‘others’, biased application of (theoretically) meritocratic processes, micro-inequities, unwritten rules in mono-cultures and the organisational preference that reproduces success types of the past. The dynamics can be observed on individual, process and organisational levels, and some biases stabilise each other in a way that makes mitigation a complex task.

Making Diversity & Inclusion work is complex

Over the past twenty years, a number of success formats dominated each of the different eras – each claiming to be the silver bullet everyone was looking for. In fact, the critical questions representing resistance against diversity, inclusion or both, have not changed much over the past decades. What’s in it for me? For the business? Why change in the first place? Is there any urgency at all? These and other common questions show quite clearly that a complex change strategy must be designed in order to nudge people and organisations towards overcoming initial and subsequent barriers, and gradually unleashing the power of differences. A combination of different change models has proven to be advisable: The generic trifold model of leadership, tools and cultural change serves as a backdrop against which more D&I specific approaches can be designed. The different types of Unconscious Biases provide another template for developing roadmaps. Multi-phase models for organisation development, such as Kotter’s 8 steps, make timing more effective. Finally, the value-creation model of D&I provides quality check points to know if your strategy will eventually lead to the desired benefits. One more thing still needs to be added to the complexity: Stakeholder management continues to be a challenge in many or most D&I processes. For the perceptions, personal convictions, needs and possibilities of different target groups and individuals within those target groups vary a lot.

Michael Stuber DiversityMichael Stuber,

Founder and Owner-Manager of European Diversity
VP of International Affairs, European Institute for Managing Diversity


The Power Of The Internet Of Things – Guest post by Jim Hunter (@theiotguru)

The term Internet of Things (or IoT) was coined in 1999.  Just what does this super generic moniker mean?  Literally, it means that physical devices are beginning to connect to the Internet.  If you think about that for a few seconds, technically that is what the Internet is. Physical devices connected together through a common network. The physical devices or “things” of the internet have been servers, routers, switches and all forms of connected compute devices. From that perspective, IoT, is the redefinition of what an internet thing is. More specifically, IoT is a redefinition of what a connected compute device is. The vast majority of theses new IoT connected computer devices will be sensors. Sensors that read, measure, collect and digitize the world around us.

Creating context

The reason sensors are so important is because they provide context. Today the most important devices to create context are those we carry with us. These include our mobile devices and in some cases wearable devices, that are loaded with sensors local to us.

Soon the most important devices will be those around us. In the near future, thousands of sensors will be fixtures in our environment that emit contextual data messages. These sensors will broadcast their contextual identifiers available that answer the questions of who, where, what, when and why to applications that are personal to you.  Sensors will measure and broadcast information about position, health, energy, radio strength climate, traffic, vibration, stress, noise, light … basically anything that can be measured and has value to mankind will be measured.  That measured information will be broadcast over a short distance to mobile devices that are within range.  For any given moment in time, a detailed digital picture of you and your surroundings can be captured for your private applications to consider.

IoT privacy issues

The personal and private nature of your data and identity require this design, as opposed to your device broadcasting its presence to other devices. This also means that creating informational infrastructure that works hand in hand with applications on personal devices is the future of the IoT, and a massive opportunity. This is not new. Essentially, this is how GPS location works. The GPS satellites broadcast small information messages that include their identity and the time. It is up to the personalized location devices to make those messages usable for a consumer. This design is also appearing in shopping situations, where stores broadcast location-specific RFID (Radio Frequency ID) to tell listening apps where products are in a store, and the application then converts those messages into product location information and related purchase deals for the user.

It is important to understand that there are a variety of ways to maintain security and privacy, even for the broadcasting RFID.  For example, a given ID could actually be an abstracted hash.  To make sense of an abstracted hash, the application would have to pass the hash to a decoder.  This decoder may be in a cloud or fog service.  The decoder may require authentication to decode the hash to the actual information pertaining to the RFID. This authenticated lookup also allows a given RFID, to decode into different information, depending on the authentication level of a given user.  For example, a teenager may get different information from an RFID than a parent or head of household may from the same RFID with the same application.  Most importantly, a given RFID may return completely different information, if decoded by completely different services.  For example, consider RFID 0088776655AB.  This RFID may decode to a value that results in displaying a fire hydrant for an emergency fire fighters Heads Up Display (HUD).  As well, the same RFID may decode to a no parking zone in a traffic application.  It may also decode as an obstruction warning for a person who is sight challenged.  Different apps can process the same IoT surroundings differently, which will enable a massive new wave of value add applications.

The above example, is just one of many of the value propositions of IoT.  With IoT, we are giving a voice to an unprecedented number of things that can measure every aspect of our world.  These things will provide context like we have never known before.  They will answer the questions of who, where, what, when and why.

jim hunter futureproof IOTJim Hunter,
Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems Inc.,
@theiotguru on Twitter