As we wrapped our second Techonomy Bio conference a couple of weeks ago, it got me thinking about how many interesting “bio” related 180s we’ve produced in recent years. Our “180° Talks” are three-minute presentations in which the speaker aims to change the audience’s mind about a generally accepted paradigm, or tells us about something they’ve reversed their thinking about.
My all time favourite is from Techonomy 2011. Andrew Hessel, then at Singularity University and now at Autodesk, spoke about biotech, procreation, computer-assisted genetic design, and his decision to get a vasectomy. It’s now 2015 and Andrew is the very proud father of a beautiful baby girl. He’s done a 180 on his 180 … bringing us full circle in the story of life, I guess. Andrew helped get us started on our bio journey, and has spoken on a number of Techonomy sessions over the years, including Life 2.0 at TE13 with Stewart Brand and Eri Gentry, and his talk “Better, Faster, Cheaper” at TE Bio 2014.
Another fantastic 180 came from David Haussler of UC Santa Cruz at Techonomy 2012. In his “Geek-Powered Cancer Research” David talks about cancer as a “digital disease” with a “digital cure” and how a common repository of sequenced genomes can be a crucial component in the war against cancer.
Ownership of personal data, genetic or otherwise, is of course a complicated topic. For a deeper dive, look at the video or transcript of the “Who Owns Your Genetic Data?” session from last month’s TE Bio. If you don’t have time to watch the whole 50-minute session or read the transcript, skip to the end where moderator Meredith Salisbury asks panelists if they would recommend consumers get their genome sequenced. On a panel of five, somehow there was a 50/50 result.