Saturday, May 21, 2011

Researchers create nanopatch for the heart | Brown University News and Events

The optimal solution to the ever-increasing cost of health care can not be found in public/private pay systems, rationing, price transparency, and/or "patient choice". The problem can only be solved by innovation that targets cures rather than the management of chronic conditions/symptoms. Up to this point, most technological innovation created higher health care costs, not lower, because they were focused on diagnosis (i.e. expensive testing/imaging) and/or treatment/management of symptoms. This is "grossly inefficient", but this inefficiency will be dramatically reduced as we employ the use of greater control and understanding of the intricacies of life at the nanoscale. This story is an example of not only a medical "miracle", but of the "efficiencies" that will allow us to meet the health care needs of our society, within budget:

Researchers create nanopatch for the heart Brown University News and Events

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Susan Lim: Transplant cells, not organs | Video on

Life sciences technology is entering a new dawn of innovation, which is certainly exciting from a longevity and quality of life perspective, but it also has the potential for a profound impact on many of the economic "doomsday" scenarios that are so popular in today's media. The promise of stem cell (especially the less politically charged IPS variety) transplantation may provide a reduced medical cost windfall in the form of:

1) Extended productivity (tax generation) from older, more highly skilled, higher earning workers that, rather than passing away and/or becoming a burden via disability/Medicare, continue a robust contribution to the economy.

2) The shortening of interim treatment periods between onset, transplantation and health restoration will likely lead to greatly reduced costs.

3) The combination of longer, more productive worker lives, and the reduced costs of treatment/cure, will likely "bend the cost curve" in a more rapid and favorable manner than most are currently expecting.

The quality of life issue is also very important from an economic perspective. Many assume that the longer people live, the more that it will cost to provide them with needed financial support and medical care and that longer lives equates to deeper, less manageable social program funding costs. This is only true if the quality of those are lives are not improved to a greater magnitude than they are extended. We are increasingly a service/information society and physical strength is declining continually in importance with respect to the ability for one to contribute to society (and who is to say that with the advances in exo-skeletons that a 90-year old could not be a loading dock worker!). As maladies that impact the elderly most severely (i.e. cognitive/neurological, muscle/bone loss, visual acuity, hearing, etc.) become more treatable, the underlying desire that most people possess (to remain productive, active, involved and valued) will be allowed to blossom.

The below link provides a quick glimpse into how far we have come and how far we may go:

Susan Lim: Transplant cells, not organs Video on

Friday, April 22, 2011

Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization | Video on

Below is a link to a very powerful example of how "hi-tech" can, and will, make "low-tech" available to the masses. While Marcin didn't mention it, this type of project is even more potentially impactful if you consider blending in the ever increasing capabilities of 3-D printing that would enable open-source designs to include more sophisticated elements/parts.

Once again the myth that advanced technologies only benefit the already wealthy and/or only increase the competitive advantage of already technologically developed societies is dispelled. There will likely always be a gap between the most advanced countries, and the least, but the real measure of progress will be in how that gap will narrow and how quickly the advances in the front of the innovation wave are transmitted to the back. Further, as information is more widely dispersed, and more people share their discoveries and insights, it is unlikely that the front of the innovation wave for any given technology will be lead by the same limited set of countries that dominate science/technology today, nor that the leadership will remain as stable as it tends to be today. As the competitive landscape becomes more dynamic and vibrant, it will generate greater, if not wholly unexpected, levels of global prosperity. The progress will be permanent and pervasive, but the source will be highly fluid and seemingly "spontaneous" from unexpected corners of the globe.

Marcin Jakubowski: Open-sourced blueprints for civilization Video on

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action | Video on

As nanotechnology enables us to be more capable at manipulating matter, it is important that we don't "re-invent the wheel" that nature has already designed. By simultaneously using the discoveries of the future, in conjunction with the lessons "learned" by our planet, and it inhabitants, we can accelerate the pace of innovation, and support the virtuous cause of preservation. The following is an excellent "primer" on the power and promise of biomimicry: Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action Video on

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The End of "Reality"...The Dawn of Truth

The fog of culture is beginning to lift, the bright rays of clarity are beginning to pierce through. As all things are deconstructed into their finest parts, their commonality is undeniable. Science is breaking the material world into its most fundamental essence, and in the process, it is empowering the technological advances needed to examine the most immutable aspects of what makes us human. We have wandered for millenniums in a hazy dream-world of culture and Newtonian physics, but now as we break the bonds of the macro world, we enter the sphere of our origin. Reality, as perceived by humans, has never really been real, or at the most, it has been a carnival fun house mirror reflection of what we really are. The basic needs for survival, the societal/religious constraints imposed to maintain order and the oppressive control of those that enjoyed a regional monopoly on knowledge, power and/or communications have imposed a barrier on our progress towards understanding ourselves without distortion.

Man has never had the opportunity to truly pursue the truth in an unfettered manner because the "scarcity" of basic needs, education, knowledge, technology, free thought/expression, freedom, and of the access to others, as well as access of others to us. These limitations have all conspired to distract, restrain, inhibit, stigmatize, coerce, enslave, intimidate or eliminate those that attempted the "virtuous journey".

The atomization of culture is upon us. The social alloy that our coming trials will render will be of such strength to make diamond appear as water, but with this atomization, disorientation is certain to occur. That is why now, more than ever, we must abandon petty battles, selfish interests and "zero sum game" mentalities. Life is not a "zero sum game", existence is an "infinite sum process". I do not believe we are just random packets of energy and matter swirling around in a stew of chaos, but I also believe we haven't begun to understand why the universe is not random and pointless.

As we strive to move beyond the carnal, material and status-based societies that have stained our existence up to this point, we must understand that others will be unwilling to listen and unwilling to relinquish the comfort of the rudimentary, but familiar, "meta-self-awareness" that they currently embrace.

We all have work to do with regards to adjusting our perspectives and promoting a cooperative framework to meet the challenges that our species will face in the coming "Near-Singularity" era:

The politician must know they no longer occupy the throne of power, but a bubble of scrutiny.

The tyrant must know their lies are transparent and their enemies united.

The exploitive opportunist must know their gains are fleeting, but their reputation tarnished and memorialized across the globe in an instant.

The leaders of religion must distill and refine the "truth glue" that has held their dogma together for so many years prior.

The scientist must become a philosopher, and the philosopher a practitioner of the scientific method.

The activist must not abandon their pursuit of justice, but they must learn tact, diplomacy and requisite patience. Do not your cause an injustice by imprudence.

The conservative must accept that their "established way" was once "radical and new" and that change is what created that which they hold so dear and are so reluctant to change once more. Nostalgia is entertaining, but it is toxic to progress and nourishes extinction.

To the rising poor, aspire to higher heights than the developed world, but avoid its lows at all cost.

All things are threatened by this change that are not of truth. All those who prematurely claim to know truth are endangered. One should not fear truth for it has no enemies. Yet, its victims are self-selected by their lust for proving that they are "right" before and above all others.

Step forward, together, in the virtuous journey with those you have previously disagreed, bath in the light & energy released by the atomization of culture, forge a social alloy born of symmetry and fit, but most of all, respect the path and pace of your fellow travelers. If you have the good fortune to make faster progress, leave a clear path for others to follow and perhaps a note saying "Keep going! You are going to make it! I will be waiting for you..."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Advance could speed use of genetic material RNA in nanotechnology

"Scientists are reporting an advance in overcoming a major barrier to the use of the genetic material RNA in nanotechnology -- the field that involves building machines thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair and now is dominated by its cousin, DNA. Their findings could speed the use of RNA nanotechnology for treating disease."

ScienceDaily (2011-01-19) -- ... > read full article

Ray Kurzweil: A university for the coming singularity | Video on

I have posted this video previously, but I am re-posting it in celebration of the premieres of the documentary "Transcendent Man" this month across the nation.

Ray Kurzweil: A university for the coming singularity Video on

Cynthia Breazeal: The rise of personal robots | Video on

No, Cynthia is not related to me, but I certainly hope I have her genetics with respect to intellect!

About this talk (from TED):

"As a grad student, Cynthia Breazeal wondered why we were using robots on Mars, but not in our living rooms. The key, she realized: training robots to interact with people. Now she dreams up and builds robots that teach, learn -- and play. Watch for amazing demo footage of a new interactive game for kids."

Cynthia Breazeal: The rise of personal robots Video on

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Episodic Correlations, "Knowing", Egos & a "P.S."

Most professional investment managers constantly stress the importance of "diversification", yet very few ponder the real nature of what constitutes "diversification", or if they do, they have either a very "naive" or "lazy" approach. Most rely on "long-term, equilibrium correlation" statistics, but many significant losses can occur in the "short-term", during "disequilibrium" when their less than "parity" correlation assumptions rapidly approach parity and their much relied upon "low correlation" vaporizes right at the moment they need it most.

Correlations are fantastically hard to forecast, but forecasting is not necessarily necessary if you are just willing to be open-minded and accept what the capital markets are trying to tell you. At any given time there are "paradigms" in place that create attractive correlation pairs. Over the past 5 years there have been two major paradigms: 1) Growth can only be found overseas in the emerging markets and 2) THE FEAR TRADE. In a past post, I described why I think #1 is simply silly and potentially dangerous to your brokerage statement ("Growth in the emerging markets is self-defeating, growth in innovation/technology is self-reinforcing."; this principal is rapidly being revealed at present, just pull a 3-year chart of the NASDAQ 100 (QQQQ) vs. the Emerging Market Index (EEM)). The second paradigm, THE FEAR TRADE, is running its course. A great way to see this visually is by the below 2-year chart of the gold ETF (GLD) vs. the financial sector ETF (XLF):

The financial sector ETF has outperformed gold by about 30% over the past 24 months. This is interesting (but apparently not widely known or discussed), but that is not the point of this post. The truly interesting point is that gold and financial stocks had a very significant negative correlation during the crisis, and as a result, they offered an attractive "correlation pairing", but this pairing is transitory or as I like to describe it "episodic". During the middle of the last 2 years, gold and financial stocks demonstrated a much more "positive correlation" (both rising), but now they appear to want to return to a negatively correlated relationship, to the detriment of the price of gold. A few quarters or years from now, this negative correlation will likely be less robust because the "paradigm" of THE FEAR TRADE will have passed. Yet, probably thousands of financial advisors/planners will plug in "long-term, equilibrium correlation" assumptions about gold/financial sector stocks that reflect this history that will indicate a far more effective diversification benefit than will really exist at that time.

Correlations are cyclical and transitory, but that creates an opportunity for those that are a little more proactive and honest about how the world really operates.

Over the next few/several years, I think it is quite possible that financial stocks will double in price, and the price of gold will get cut in half. There are certainly many who would take the "other side" of that trade, but whatever side of the table you are on, it is always prudent to look for what is the antithesis of your "winning trade" and reallocate 20-30% in something that you "know" will lose money, simply because you don't really ever really "know" anything. You can just skew your exposures to reflect the skews in your perception.

There were certainly "gold bugs" who 2 years ago "knew" gold would perform well, and being up over 45% in 24 months would classify as "performing well". Yet, if they had invested 20% in financials, which they also "knew" would largely be "doomed", they would have increased their 2-year return by about 6% cumulatively. On the other hand, had financials fallen another 50% (rather than rising), they would have reduced their return down from 45% to around 25%. 25% is not bad, but do you really think gold would have been up only 45% if financials had fallen another 50% rather than rising around 75%? Probably not.

The point is that if you want to make money, you can be tactical and still remain disciplined and diversified. If you want to be 100% "right"in order to feed your ego, there are far less expensive ways to boost your self-image (i.e. personal trainer, Nutrisytem, sports cars, new clothes, hair replacement, liposuction, etc.) that have more limited downside and greater direct linkage to results.

PS: For those that think I wrote this ignorant of Friday's market action, the riots in Egypt or the threat to the Suez canal, you are wrong. The events in Egypt are not an isolated event and they are likely to be just the current example of a long series of similar events that will occur in the coming years. The age of tyrants is coming to a close. They are going to be Tweeted, blogged and YouTube'd into exile (tyrants can shut the internet down for some period in time, but that just reinforces the mindset that regime change is necessary amongst the young who are most likely to revolt), but the communication age that make this possible will also make the visuals very discomforting. It is a bit like "making sausage", you don't want to watch the process, especially when the flesh that is being torn is human. The regime that will come into power next in Egypt may not be to our liking, but if they (whoever they are) do not respect the rights and desires of the citizens of that country, they are not going to have 30 years this time to enjoy their booty. Technology is accelerating and so is the time frame in which change occurs, and that does not only apply to the feature size of components on the newest motherboard. We all want "change" that leads to a better world, but we need to develop the stomach that is required to make or allow that change to happen. From an investment standpoint:

"Queasy makes making money easy", so get some Rolaids, get "longer" as the videos get uglier and put 20% in something that is a "sure loser", in your mind.

Artificial Intuition

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) was once thought to be achievable through the construction of a system of rules based on logic. Yet, as with almost every area of research, as you peel back a layer of onion, you not only find more layers, but a multitude of different varieties of onions, each with its own "N" layers of complexity. Monica Anderson, a "computer based cognition" researcher and entrepreneur, provides a very insightful and readable introduction into this fascinating exploration of how we "operate" at the most intimate level, within our own minds:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The 3 A’s of awesome: Neil Pasricha on

Pashfiata Strategies focuses on issues surrounding nanotechnology, advancing/converging technologies, economics, capital market/investor behavior and investment/risk management, but its underlying purpose is to calm fears, increase awareness, promote fact-based thought and most importantly, "Build Hope & Optimism, One Atom at a Time!" Unfortunately, facts alone don't always promote optimism, perspective is the required "secret sauce". Here is a great TED video that will hopefully give some guidance on how to maintain a mindset that is fertile for optimism to take seed:

The 3 A’s of awesome: Neil Pasricha on

"Convergence Chain"

The below link to the article "UNC researchers inch closer to unlocking potential of synthetic blood" is a good example of what I term the "Convergence Chain". In this example, nanotechnology is providing a means to develop a material to meet very specific characteristics that are necessary to advance life sciences research/development. Further, the future availability of synthetic blood would likely lead to lower health care costs, less exposure to donor-sourced contamination (i.e. contracting hepatitis or HIV from improperly screened/processed human blood), more effective treatments/therapy for blood disorders, less worker productivity losses and employment opportunities (i.e. synthetic blood manufacturing/distribution jobs, synthetic blood improvement research in performance enhancement for athletic/military applications, etc.).

(Of course, there is always a downside. This will put pressure on cookie/orange juice sales as human blood donations will become obsolete and undergraduates will not be able to engage in plasma donation to cover tuition expenses or beer purchases.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Scientists reverse aging in mice by lengthening telomeres

While human immortality is likely quite a distant goal, the near-term "bridge" is achieving "escape velocity" from the rate of aging vs. the rate of "wellness lengthening". This link provides a source of hope for that outcome:

Scientists reverse aging in mice by lengthening telomeres