Thanks Juan for a really great discussion on a potential at-home blood diagnostic device. As you and others mentioned, following the negative legacy that Theranos has left in the space will require substantial PR campaigns to convince consumers of its efficacy (assuming there is data to support such efficacy). While the applications could be endless, I agree that for the time being focusing on lifestyle applications would be best. For scientists and physicians, the prospect of having an at-home device to run any diagnostic test is exciting; there’s no longer a need to visit the doctor to test a health hypothesis! However, for the average consumer that might not understand which tests to run or how to interpret results, it could be a recipe for disaster. If test results are not perfectly in range, this could send the consumer into a panic and to the doctor, unnecessarily driving up healthcare costs. I also wonder how Cue will need to work with the FDA moving forwards and as they expand their test sets. I think this important to consider given lack of FDA buy-in was why 23andMe was forced to initially remove their health reports from their product offerings back in 2013. Therefore, if Cue expands their test set, it should be done carefully and in consultation with physicians and the FDA. Nonetheless, I think it’s an extremely exciting technology that has the potential to bring a lot of value to consumers.
Very interesting discussion on how tracking technology is being applied in the NFL. I question what types of insights analysis of the data will allow. Apparently teams do not yet have access to all of the data that the technology is collecting for purposes of improvement in playing; the NFL is currently analyzing the data for actionable insights so as to provide teams with solid data-supported recommendations (https://www.wired.com/2016/01/the-nfls-impending-data-revolution/). As the article mentions, providing all of the raw data to teams may be confusing and it may be unclear how it can be used. Thus, after statistical analyses have been performed, it would be interesting to understand whether the NFL is working on building a software platform with easy-to-use GUIs that would make the data and data analysis more accessible to players and teams. Similar to most applications of big data, collecting it is the easy part; understanding how to use it is more challenging.
Great article on how the agriculture industry is using digital technologies to enhance efficiency and improve crop quality. I think there is a lot of promise in harnessing the data that farmers could potentially collect in order to optimize growing conditions. Many companies are playing in this space. For example, DuPont Pioneer uses yield monitors to offer variable-rate seeding prescriptions, while Monsanto’s Climate Pro monitors field nitrogen levels and provides recommendations (http://fortune.com/2014/05/30/cropping-up-on-every-farm-big-data-technology/). I think there would be a lot of value from integrating all of these capabilities into one platform and technology, and harnessing the accumulated analytics that are returned to further improve yield.
Very interesting discussion on how machine learning algorithms can be applied to interpret medical images! I find it particularly interesting that Merge can do this not only more quickly but also more accurately than doctors. With this being said, I wonder whether there is the potential to use this technology as a means by which to reduce healthcare costs? The reading fee associated with an MRI can range from $100-500 (https://clearhealthcosts.com/blog/2012/11/how-much-does-an-mri-cost-part-2/). If this can be reduced through utilizing Merge technology, it would provide immense value to patients. As you discussed, radiologists do not want to be intermediated. However, if technology allows for decreased demand of their services, it is not fair to expect patients to continue to pay higher healthcare costs in order to keep radiology staff levels at the same level they are today. Hospitals need to remember to put patients, not doctors, first.
Thanks Ellyn for an interesting discussion on the benefits and limits of using video surveillance technology for recognizing criminals. Although this is an ethically contentious topic, I have no issues with it if it means that criminals will be caught, and perhaps even dissuaded from committing a crime in the first place. However, I question how useful this technology is in the case of a masked criminal? There would have to be so many cameras installed so as to provide the ability to trace the criminal back in video space-time to a point when he/she was not masked. I wonder how committed the government is to providing the funds for installing the infrastructure necessary to make this technology effective in different types of cases.
Also, I thought it was interesting that humans are still necessary to help identify criminals after the software had been used to match images. It seems that signal processing algorithms such as those used in facial recognition would develop a higher accuracy with a greater pool of images with which to compare. I would imagine this would pose a challenge for detecting first-time criminals in which the only image the police department might be able to match the video to would be a government issued ID. I wonder whether there is any value to be gained from complementing video-image matching with video-video matching? Would it make sense to develop a capability that would allow the software to match a face at a given point in time in one video, to a face at a different point in time in other video surveillance? I’m not sure whether this would help eliminate potential options and narrow in on the correct criminal, or make the issue worse and only increase the number of potentials that must be eliminated, but it’s an interesting option to consider.
Thanks for a great discussion on Flatiron Health! I agree that there is a lot of potential, particularly in oncology, for assembling clinical databases. Although I see how the unstructured nature of medical data would pose a challenge to Flatiron, I question whether there are workarounds to this issue, and how necessary the unstructured data is for making an impact. Big data, machine learning, and sophisticated analytics provide the opportunity to see trends and patterns where humans do not. Thus I question how necessary some of the more unstructured data, such as physician notes and letters, are. Perhaps it would be better to examine the data without bias from physicians’ notes, etc. Also, lab tests are typically already provided in numerical format. And signal processing algorithms have already become vastly more accurate and could perhaps be used for scoring diagnostic images. Aggregating this data would already provide an immense impact in the research space. I think that having digitized and decoded physician reports would be a nice-to-have, but not at all necessary at this point in time for making a large impact.
I also question how they differentiate themselves from other IT systems commonly used in hospitals, such as Epic? Does Epic not provide the functionalities that Flatiron Health does? It would be interesting to get the perspective of oncologists currently using the platform, and why they like it. This would be important to understand as they continue to scale, given the value of the data increases greatly with scale.
Very interesting article on the effects of climate change on the shipping industry and the strategies that they are implementing to adapt. I find it quite ironic that climate change can actually help carriers be more environmentally friendly; as climate change thaws thick arctic ice, it makes it more feasible for vessels to pass through, shorten their routes, and thus reduce the fuel and carbon emissions typically involved in reaching a particular destination. However, I wonder whether there are consequences to sending carriers through the arctic region? According to Canada’s Northwest Territories Environmental and Natural Resources division, shipping through the arctic could actually increase the rate of ice melt as a result of increasing carbon emissions in the region, thereby compounding the issues that climate change presents to the global community (http://www.enr.gov.nt.ca/state-environment/73-trends-shipping-northwest-passage-and-beaufort-sea). Additionally, the impact of carriers would undoubtedly have an effect on the arctic ecosystem and marine biodiversity of the region. This has me question whether arctic shipping is really a bonafide sustainability strategy.
Great discussion on how Marriott is addressing the challenges that it faces with regards to climate change. I wonder what specific actions Marriott is taking to address the vulnerability of key properties to destructive weather events, such as those located in hurricane and tornado prevalent regions. While Marriott would incur tremendous cost to tear down buildings and reengineer the structural design with enhanced innovations aimed at improving structural stability, I wonder whether Marriott seeks to implement structural innovations when renovations occur or how to do so in a fashion that isn’t disruptive to guests. This is an extremely important strategy to consider, given that costs for repairing structural damage due to extreme weather events are expected to reach $10 – $23.3 billion in 2050 (https://skift.com/2014/03/31/how-climate-change-is-threatening-coastal-tourism-and-recreation/). Taking a long-term strategy on this and investing in the structural stability of properties now may prove more economical than waiting to fix damage when it occurs.
Very interesting article on Hanes’ sustainability strategy! I agree that while their energy and GHG reduction initiatives appear to be successful, I think it would be important to next turn to developing a sustainability approach for sourcing their raw materials. According to IKEA’s sustainability report (http://www.ikea.com/ms/en_US/img/ad_content/2015_IKEA_sustainability_report.pdf), they source cotton from producers that align with the Better Cotton Standard, and through the “e3 Cotton Program” in the United States. Cotton farmers whose practices align with these initiatives not only use less water but also less fertilizers and pesticides and work towards biodiversity conservation. It would be great if Hanes could commit to sourcing a certain percentage of their cotton from farmers that adhere to the guidelines recommended by these same initiatives and programs.
Great article discussing the benefits and drawbacks of investing in electric vehicle R&D. I agree that for the time being given low gas prices and therefore low consumer motivation to purchase expensive electric vehicles, it’s important to invest in making gasoline powered vehicles more efficient. However, given the price of oil and gas is cyclical and it will undoubtedly rise again, I think it would be dangerous to neglect electric vehicle R&D. As gas prices rise, consumers may be more willing to invest in electric vehicles. If Ford’s competitors continue significant R&D into electric vehicles and eventually produce more reliable and cost efficient options for consumers, Ford may have a difficult time competing in this type of marketplace.
Very interesting article on Google’s dependence on energy and water to operate their data centers. I wonder whether there are additional methods to reduce the amount of water required to sufficiently cool servers and/or take advantage of the heat that is generated? For example, many industrial manufacturing companies reuse heat generated in their processes, convert to steam, and use a source of energy for turbine powered equipment. Perhaps Google could also harness the heat that the servers produce and reuse the energy for other purposes.