After a rocky start yesterday, we had an amazing line-up of speakers.
A couple of the highlights...
Co-creation is everywhere. Robotics manufacturers like Roomba are creating platforms that are hacker friendly. You open up the top and the circuit board says 'welcome'. Even better, the company has contests and prizes for the best hacks and inventions on their platform. Helen Greiner, co-founder of iRobot, was one of the speakers. She believes robots are a potential solution to many risky environments --they build military robots that are currently in use in Afghanistan. She also believes they are a potential solution to elder-case, so that people can stay in their homes longer.
Alexander Bock, the inventor of the power-skip boots that are featured in a Zurich Insurance advertisement told us a bit about his invention. But he really caught my attention when he discussed the problem of preventing counterfeit goods being sold. I believe his approach relates to licensing the wholesaler, rather than the manufacturer of the goods, to choke off illegal distribution, and improve the ability of the patent-owner to monitor royalties. If I can find out more, I will post on this later.
The best speaker in many respects was Dr. John Helliwell, who is researching the economics of happiness. He researches SWB -- subjective well being. It turns out that a major contributor to well-being, to our subjective report of our overall life satisfaction, has to do with how much time we spend with friends and family. We also feel better about our overall lives if we trust our neighbors. And we feel better about our work if we trust management. He wrapped up his session by getting all of us to sing "the more we get together, the happier we'll be". And we all sang.
Dr. Helliwell, it turns out, is part of a program funded by the Canadian Institute for Advanced REsearch. I heard four of their scientists speak yesterday, and they are an impressive bunch, including several Nobel winners. One of the things that interests me personally, is how applicable to our day-to-day challenges much of this academic pure research actually is. I spoke later on to some of the CIFAR people at lunch, and they are trying to get this message out to people.
More later. Ciao for now.