Anheuser-Busch Briefing Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St NW, Washington, D.C.
Registration and Breakfast: 8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
In the hit 1970s TV show, The Six Million Dollar Man, astronaut Steve Austin crashed a spacecraft and was near death before scientists decided to “rebuild” him. During the opening credits, the now iconic voiceover said, “We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man…Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”
At the time, the world did not have the technology to fully replace injured limbs and eyes, and $6 million (then and now) is hardly enough to create a specimen with bionic improvements allowing him to run 60 mph with super-human strength. Yet, today there are rapid improvements in how machines and technology are being used to help patients recover from severe trauma and disease, with more groundbreaking innovation on the horizon.
Cutting-edge companies and the medical community are leading the charge in emerging technology sectors that will bring major changes in how we cure and heal the sick and injured. These innovative breakthroughs are not reserved for six-million-dollar secret agents. Incredible real-world research and innovation is blending humans and technology to overcome illness and limitations like never before.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reads the Internet so that you don’t have to, sharing a short list of curated blog posts for your Friday reading.
James Pethokoukis asks, “Should workers fear IBM’s Watson?” The reason he asks this question stems from a TED debate between Northwestern’s Robert Gordon and MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson on whether “America is past its prime.” The answer may very well be found in this one chart from Brynjolfsson pitting Jeopardy! contestants (the blue dots) against the relentless improvements in IBM supercomputer Watson’s answers. As Brynjolfsson says, “Watson is growing up fast.” The point he makes is that technology is racing ahead into a “new machine age” that is “digital, exponential, and combinatorial.” Rather than there being a great stagnation, “Each innovation creates building blocks for even more innovation.” And that creates far more opportunities for gainful work.
This is a special guest post by Patrick Konopnicki, Ed.D. Dr. Konopnicki is the Director of Technical and Career Education, Virginia Beach City Public Schools. This post can also be found on the blog of the Institute for a Competitive Workforce.
As part of a growing national movement to prioritize science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) began a targeted effort to improve the quality, access, and real-world relevance of STEM education across all grade levels. Now in its fifth year, the STEM Robotics Challenge (SRC) offers an afterschool program called “Robots Rock and STEM Rules” in 50 elementary, middle, and high schools. Impressively, 29% of participants are female and 48% are minority students, proving that the program is enticing to those who are traditionally underrepresented in the field. While more than 700 students are currently enrolled, organizers hope to offer SRC to every student in every VBCPS school in the near future.
Cities are engines of economic activity. They are networks of businesses, consumers, institutions and governments generating the commerce and innovation that drive the United States. Keeping these engines running is a 24/7, 365-day effort, but there are times when, because of disaster or threats, the pistons of commerce and governance come to a halt. This does not come without hefty, cascading costs.
During the search for terrorists who bombed the Boston Marathon, the city’s transit systems were closed, and both Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino called for Boston-area businesses to close while law enforcement hunted down the attackers. This was unprecedented in Boston’s history, not because commerce and public activity largely ceased, but because it was a proactive decision and not the result of a city-wide incapacitating event, such as a major storm.
A critique of Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff's paper examining debt's effect on growth dominated the economic news over the last week. Reinhart and Rogoff's 2010 offering, Growth in a Time of Debt, compiled lots of data on debt-to-GDP ratios from nations around the globe and found that higher debt ratios, especially those at 90% or above, tended to be associated with slower growth. Three UMass-Amherst economists, however, noticed an error in R&R's spreadsheet and argued that it (along with two other statistical choices) significantly altered the results. R&R acknowledged the spreadsheet error in a reply but defended the thrust of their work and its conclusions. Champions of government spending jumped on the critique, charging that the R&R paper had given aid and comfort to widespread "austerity" policies and that their now-discredited ideas had sunk the world economy.