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Club of Amsterdam Journal, September 2016, Issue 187
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2016, Issue 187

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Welcome to the
Club of Amsterdam Journal.

Watch the new edition of The Future Now Show with Valery Spiridonov, first ever human head transplant patient, Russia and Katie Aquino

Don't miss our event in Amsterdam!.
15 Nov 2016, morning
Fashion Meets Impact
A Blue Ocean Investment Strategy for the Global Textile & Garment Industry
in cooperation with impact economy

Felix F Bopp, Founder & Chairman

Smart health: The death of hospitals

The Future Now Show with Valery Spiridonov and Katie Aquino

The Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry Barlow

News about the Future: Inferring urban travel patterns from cellphone data / EnergieTracker

Asteroid Mining

Recommended Book:
Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

Futurist Portrait: Jaron Lanier


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.ySmart health: The death of hospitals

By Ed Currie. Ed is a UK-trained medical doctor with over 25 years’ industry experience in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical devices, precision medicine and digital health.

This article first appeared in Perspectives 2016

Dr. Ed Currie explains why although there will always be a place for hospitals, they will be much smaller and unrecognizable from how they are today. And why that is great news.

Who would choose to spend time in a hospital unless absolutely necessary? They are dangerous and hugely expensive places to be (see infographic at the bottom of the article).

The US leads the pack at an average of over $4,000 per bed per day – the price of a luxury suite in a five-star hotel. Prices elsewhere are lower, but still painful. Surprisingly, these costs are often not visible to patients or healthcare professionals.

However, there is now a move towards increasing the transparency of hospital pricing, driven by growing awareness of the unsustainability of healthcare costs. Payers are beginning to limit reimbursement for hospital stays, and in several countries will not now pay for readmissions within 30 days of hospital discharge for the same condition, or complications arising from it. It is perhaps no surprise that Castlight, a health IT company that provides visibility of healthcare cost to enterprises, attracted such interest for its IPO.

Hospital without beds

In his book The Patient Will See You Now, Eric Topol describes a hospital that seems to be pointing the way forward: The new Montefiore Medical Center in New York City has 280,000 square feet, over 11 stories, 12 operating rooms, four procedure rooms, an advanced imaging center, laboratory, and pharmacy services – but no beds!

What is driving this reduction in hospital beds? First, a steady improvement in the efficiency of medical procedures over the last decades means that many that used to require a hospital stay – such as coronary angiography, organ biopsies, surgeries – can now be done on an outpatient basis. Even those that require hospitalization now require much shorter stays.

Second, healthcare is seeing a shift from illness to wellness. Preventing a disease is always preferable to treating it. Whether it’s avoiding smoking, managing stress through meditation, eating more healthily, or exercising, more people are taking responsibility for their own health. Although many members of society resist health advice, insurance companies are beginning to provide data-driven incentives to those who take steps (in some cases literally) to live more healthily. In September 2015, Google Capital invested in Oscar, an innovative US health insurer that provides Misfit step trackers to its enrollees, and rewards those who use them.

Better outcomes

Third, if you’re unlucky enough to develop a disease, then earlier detection and intervention will increase your chances of a good outcome, and reduce your need for hospital visits. For example, diabetic patients who are diligent at measuring and controlling their blood sugar have fewer complications.

Cancer is another area that is seeing big advances in early diagnosis and effective treatment. Increased awareness through public health campaigns, improvements in diagnostic technologies like imaging, and the development of new tests, such as breathalyzers for stomach and lung cancer, will allow doctors to pick up the disease while it is more treatable.

In future, we are also going to see an increase in the use of molecular diagnostic tests in treating and diagnosing cancer. For example, in the UK the NHS 100,000 Genomes Project is sequencing genomes from 25,000 cancer patients, which will lead to personalized (precision) medicine and diagnostics. The interoperability of data from all sources with medical records will be critical in allowing deep analytics on which to base treatments, as will robust data privacy and security to ensure trust.

Stay at home

Fourth, the delivery of medical care at home, either instead of a hospital stay or after a short one, means that “the hospital room of the future will be the bedroom,” according to Eric Topol. Primary care physicians, specialists and hospitals are now offering medical consultations via video or Skype. Nurses, who are alerted and authenticated by algorithms monitoring the patient’s vital signs, may supplement these with home visits.

Remote monitoring of health parameters has for some years been a reality for diabetics (blood glucose), and is beginning to extend to multiple parameters, both active (blood pressure, pulse rate, weight, electrocardiogram) and passive (motion sensors in rooms and under mattresses, gait-measuring sensors in the floor, activation sensors on the fridge and in smart pill boxes, as well as health-relevant temperature and air quality sensors, like Google Nest).

Data collection, with patients’ consent, need not stop at the home, but can extend into their car, workplace, or doctor’s office, and can be integrated with their electronic health record to allow analysis.

No longer alone

Finally, many elderly people stay in hospital for longer than they need, or have to go into a care home, because they have no one to look after them at home. In the UK, delayed discharges account for over 1 million hospital bed days blocked per year. One approach, still in its infancy but being trialed, is robot caregivers.

While robots cannot yet replace humans, especially from the emotional perspective, they are expected increasingly to supplement human caregivers, and are becoming ever more lifelike: Nadine, a robot assistant developed in Singapore, gives a glimpse of the future. Robots, combined with remote monitoring and telemedicine, might be enough to tip the balance towards a patient being able to cope at home.

Robot Nadine (right) is modeled on real-life Nadine (left)

There will always be a role for hospitals – for example, for complex surgery or acute care after accidents – but their role will change significantly. A combination of preventive wellness, early disease detection, minimally invasive medical procedures, precision medicine, and remote, monitored homecare (eventually supplemented by friendly robots), will steadily reduce the need for hospitals. In the future, the smartest cities will be the ones with the fewest hospital beds.

.The Future Now Show with Valery Spiridonov and.Katie Aquino


Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges - sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we're making - and what we need, from strategy to vision - to make the best ones.

The Future Now Show

September 2016

first human head transplant

Valery Spiridonov, first ever human head transplant patient, Russia
Katie Aquino, aka “Miss Metaverse”, Futurista™, USA
Paul Holister, Editor, Summary Text

Daily Mail: Valery Spiridonov will undergo the first ever human head transplant. The 31-year-old is wheelchair reliant due to a muscle-wasting disease. The operation will allow him to walk for the first time in his adult life. His pioneering procedure is expected to take place in December 2017.

Future Now Show

yThe Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace
yby John Perry Barlow

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don't exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract. This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge. Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland
February 8, 1996

.News about the Future

Inferring urban travel patterns from cellphone data
Researchers from MIT and Ford Motor have developed a new computational system that uses cellphone location data to infer urban mobility patterns. Big-data analysis could give city planners timelier, more accurate alternatives to commuter surveys.

“In the U.S., every metropolitan area has an MPO, which is a metropolitan planning organization, and their main job is to use travel surveys to derive the travel demand model, which is their baseline for predicting and forecasting travel demand to build infrastructure,” says Shan Jiang, a postdoc in the Human Mobility and Networks Lab in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “So our method and model could be the next generation of tools for the planners to plan for the next generation of infrastructure.”

“The great advantage of our framework is that it learns mobility features from a large number of users, without having to ask them directly about their mobility choices,” says Marta Gonza´lez, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering (CEE) at MIT and senior author on the paper. “Based on that, we create individual models to estimate complete daily trajectories of the vast majority of mobile-phone users. Likely, in time, we will see that this brings the comparative advantage of making urban transportation planning faster and smarter and even allows directly communicating recommendations to device users.”


The EnergieTracker is a tool for the automatic capture, storage and transmission of meter readings by smartphone.

EnergieTracker's recognition technology for meter readings is the result of very intensive development work involving all common models of electricity and gas meters.

.Asteroid Mining

This video continues our look at Colonizing Space by examining the idea of Asteroid Mining and setting up colonies on Asteroids. We explore the science as well as practical issues of engineering, economics, legality, and psychology of such distant outposts.

.Recommended Book: Rise of the Robots: Technology and
.the Threat of a Jobless Future

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
by Martin Ford

What are the jobs of the future? How many will there be? And who will have them? We might imagine - and hope - that today’s industrial revolution will unfold like the last: even as some jobs are eliminated, more will be created to deal with the new innovations of a new era. In Rise of the Robots, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford argues that this is absolutely not the case. As technology continues to accelerate and machines begin taking care of themselves, fewer people will be necessary. Artificial intelligence is already well on its way to making “good jobs” obsolete: many paralegals, journalists, office workers, and even computer programmers are poised to be replaced by robots and smart software. As progress continues, blue and white collar jobs alike will evaporate, squeezing working- and middle-class families ever further. At the same time, households are under assault from exploding costs, especially from the two major industries - education and health care - that, so far, have not been transformed by information technology. The result could well be massive unemployment and inequality as well as the implosion of the consumer economy itself.

.Futurist Portrait: Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, author, and composer.

As a writer:

Lanier is one of most celebrated technology writers in the world, and is known for charting a humanistic approach to technology appreciation and criticism.

He was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2014. His book "Who Owns the Future?" won Harvard's Goldsmith Book Prize in 2014.

His books are international best sellers. "Who Owns the Future?" was named the most important book of 2013 by Joe Nocera in The New York Times, and was also included in many other "best of" lists. "You Are Not a Gadget," released in 2010, was named one of the 10 best books of the year by Michiko Kakutani, and was also named on many "best of year" lists.

He writes and speaks on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technological practices, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism. In recent years he has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, one of the 100 top public intellectuals by Foreign Policy Magazine, and one of the top 50 World Thinkers by Prospect Magazine.

His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Discover (where he has been a columnist), The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Harpers Magazine, Nature, The Sciences, Wired Magazine (where he was a founding contributing editor), and Scientific American. He has edited special "future" issues of SPIN and Civilization magazines.

As a technologist:

Lanier's name is often associated with Virtual Reality research. He either coined or popularized the term 'Virtual Reality' and in the early 1980s founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products. In the late 1980s he led the team that developed the first implementations of multi-person virtual worlds using head mounted displays, as well as the first "avatars," or representations of users within such systems. While at VPL, he and his colleagues developed the first implementations of virtual reality applications in surgical simulation, vehicle interior prototyping, virtual sets for television production, and assorted other areas. He led the team that developed the first widely used software platform architecture for immersive virtual reality applications.

Lanier has received honorary doctorates from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Franklin and Marshall College, was the recipient of CMU's Watson award in 2001, was a finalist for the first Edge of Computation Award in 2005, and received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE in 2009 for contributions to Virtual Reality.

Lanier has been a founder or principal of four startups that were either directly or indirectly acquired by Oracle, Adobe, Google, and Pfizer. From 1997 to 2001, Lanier was the Chief Scientist of Advanced Network and Services, which contained the Engineering Office of Internet2, and served as the Lead Scientist of the National Tele-immersion Initiative, a coalition of research universities studying advanced applications for Internet2. The Initiative demonstrated the first prototypes of tele-immersion in 2000. From 2001 to 2004 he was Visiting Scientist at Silicon Graphics Inc., where he developed solutions to core problems in telepresence and tele-immersion. He was Scholar at Large for Microsoft from 2006 to 2009, and Interdisciplinary Scientist at Microsoft Research from 2009 forward.

In the sciences:

Jaron Lanier's scientific interests include the use of Virtual Reality as a research tool in cognitive science, biomimetic information architectures, experimental user interfaces, heterogeneous scientific simulations, advanced information systems for medicine, and computational approaches to the fundamentals of physics. He collaborates with a wide range of scientists in fields related to these interests.

Jaron: “But the Turing test cuts both ways. You can't tell if a machine has gotten smarter or if you've just lowered your own standards of intelligence to such a degree that the machine seems smart. If you can have a conversation with a simulated person presented by an AI program, can you tell how far you've let your sense of personhood degrade in order to make the illusion work for you?

People degrade themselves in order to make machines seem smart all the time. Before the crash, bankers believed in supposedly intelligent algorithms that could calculate credit risks before making bad loans. We ask teachers to teach to standardized tests so a student will look good to an algorithm. We have repeatedly demonstrated our species' bottomless ability to lower our standards to make information technology look good. Every instance of intelligence in a machine is ambiguous.

The same ambiguity that motivated dubious academic AI projects in the past has been repackaged as mass culture today. Did that search engine really know what you want, or are you playing along, lowering your standards to make it seem clever? While it's to be expected that the human perspective will be changed by encounters with profound new technologies, the exercise of treating machine intelligence as real requires people to reduce their mooring to reality.”

Who Owns the Future?


15 Nov 2016


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