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Biotech and Beyond

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December 8–9, 2015
San Francisco, California

Library Selection
Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots (Ecco, 2015)
By John Markoff



agenda


MONDAY, December 7
6:00 PM
First-Timers Reception
6:30 PM
Welcome Reception
7:00 PM
Dinner

TUESDAY, December 8
7:30 AM

Breakfast

8:30 AM
Len Kleinrock, TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
Conference Welcome
8:45 AM
Benedict Evans, Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
Mobile Is Eating the World
The future has always looked like a toy that canít be used for real work. Bellís Law says every decade or so, we create a new, smaller generation for computingómainframes, minicomputers, workstations and PCs, and now mobile. Each generationís step-change in scale allows it to become the new ecosystem and the new center for innovation. iOS and Android smartphones alone are now outselling PCs 5:1, not even counting tablets, and that will rise to closer to 10:1 in the next few years. So, this is the new scale ecosystem. But does mobile kill PCs, and if so how? Each new computing platform will never be used for real work, but the platform gets better and the work changes to fit the new platform. Itís time to invert our mental model and think of the PC, not the smartphone, as the limited device.
9:30 AM
Subhasish Mitra, Director, Robust Systems Group, Stanford University
Computing Performance: The N3XT 1000X
Next-generation information technologies will process unprecedented amounts of loosely-structured data, including streaming video and audio, natural languages, real-time sensor readings, and contextual environments. These newly available data far exceed the processing capacity of existing computing architectures. The N3XT (Nano-Engineered Computing Systems Technology) approach overcomes these challenges through recent advances across the computing stack: (a) one-dimensional carbon nanotubes and two-dimensional layered nanomaterials for high performance and energy efficiency, (b) high-density non-volatile resistive and magnetic memories, (c) Ultra-dense (e.g., monolithic) three-dimensional integration of logic and memory for fine-grained connectivity, (d) new architectures and runtimes for computation immersed in memory, and (e) new materials technologies and their integration for efficient heat removal. Compared to conventional approaches, N3XT architectures promise to improve the energy efficiency of abundant-data applications significantly, in the range of three orders of magnitude, thereby enabling new frontiers of applications for both mobile devices and the cloud.
10:10 AM
Coffee Break
10:40 AM
Dennis Sylvester, Professor and Director, Michigan Integrated Circuit Lab, University of Michigan
Designing Cubic Millimeter Computers
The Michigan Micro Mote (M3) is a fully autonomous computing system that acts as a smart sensing system. An early version, based on a processor design called Phoenix, was small enough to be inserted into the human eye to monitor intraocular pressure, a critical measurement for people with glaucoma. Todayís version is a multi-layered integrated circuit with built-in solar cells, battery, microprocessor, sensors, radio and memory. The Michigan motes currently come in three types, measuring temperature, pressure, or images (160 x 160 pixel resolution). The motes are powered by a battery or by harvesting light energy with a photocell (or both). The key technology behind M3 lies in ultra-low power circuit design techniques that allow for orders of magnitude improvements over commercial state-of-the-art with corresponding size reductions and lifetime improvements. The aforementioned Phoenix microprocessor, for example, consumed only 35 pW of power in standby mode. (By comparison, a single human cell consumes 1 pW.) The Michigan Micro Mote was recently featured in an exhibit at the Computer History Museum.
11:20 AM
Christine Smolke, Associate Professor of Bioengineering, Stanford University
New Bio-Based Supply Chains for Drugs
Opioids are the primary drugs used in Western medicine for pain management and palliative care. Farming of opium poppies remains the sole source of these essential medicines, despite diverse market demands and uncertainty in crop yields due to weather, climate change, and pests. It is now possible to engineer yeast to produce the selected opioid compounds thebaine and hydrocodone starting from sugar—a process that combine enzyme discovery, enzyme engineering, and pathway and strain optimization to realize full opiate biosynthesis in yeast. This is a proof of principle, and major hurdles remain before optimization and scale-up. Open discussions of options for governing this technology are also needed in order to responsibly realize alternative supplies for these medically relevant compounds.
12:00 PM
Members’ Working Lunch
1:15 PM
Steve Cousins, Savioke
Service Robots (Demo)
1:55 PM
Julia Greer, Professor, Materials Science and Mechanics, California Institute of Technology
Materials by Design: 3-Dimensional Nano-Architected Meta-Materials
Creation of extremely strong yet ultra-light materials can be achieved by capitalizing on the hierarchical design of 3-dimensional nano-architectures. Such structural metamaterials exhibit superior thermomechanical properties at extremely low mass densities (lighter than aerogels), making these solid foams ideal for many scientific and technological applications. The dominant deformation mechanisms in such metamaterials, where individual constituent size (nanometers to microns) is comparable to the characteristic microstructural length scale of the constituent solid, are essentially unknown. To harness the lucrative properties of 3-dimensional hierarchical nanostructures, it is critical to assess mechanical properties at each relevant scale while capturing the overall structural complexity. We present the fabrication of 3-dimensional nano-lattices whose constituents vary in size from several nanometers to tens of microns to millimeters and discuss the deformation and mechanical properties of a range of nano-sized solids.
2:35 PM
Dennis Whyte, Professor and Head, Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT
Smaller and Sooner Fusion Energy
Based around newly-available commercial superconductors, researchers have proposed a new design for a practical compact tokamak fusion reactor. The use of rare-earth barium copper oxide superconducting tapes to produce high-magnetic field coils makes it possible the magnetic confinement of superhot plasma—that is, the working material of a fusion reaction—in much smaller devices than older designs, which, in turn, makes the system less expensive, faster to build, and allows for new features in the power plant design. Practical fusion power might be realized in as little as a decade.
3:15 PM
Coffee Break
3:45 PM
Paul Braun, Ivan Racheff Professor of Materials Science, University of Illinois
Microbatteries
Microbatteries typically have very limited power and energy, and any attempt to increase the power decreases the energy and vice versa. Over the last few years, we realized that by 3-D structuring the anode and cathode (basically giving them both a sponge-like structure at the nanoscale), microbatteries that are both high power and high energy could be realized. Using this approach, weíve made high power Li-ion microbatteries thinner than a sheet of paper and only a few mm across. These microbatteries may provide the necessary power for emerging microdevices ranging from consumer to medical.
4:25 PM
Sean McDonald, President, Bitwater Farms
Bringing IT to Cricket Farming
The folks in tech startups have a tremendous amount to offer, but also to learn from farmers. We have a 60-year-old technology industry meeting a 6000-year-old agricultural industry. Consider animal feed. If you put a chicken in a soy field, it’s not interested in the beans, but it starts hunting insects immediately. For their part, the insects are impressive creatures that convert waste into protein, iron, and other nutrients using very little feed and extremely small amounts of water. Crickets provide more protein than soy and corn, while using as little as 20% of the of the gross water inputs; they’re high in nutrients and include essential micronutrients that poultry need. Best of all, a farm's waste stream may provide the majority of what the crickets themselves consume, and cricket manure can be recycled into fertilizer for the farmer’s other crops. Using information technologies and data science—and treating farmers like "hackers" who solve problems quickly and resourcefully—we can create a nearly perfect food cycle that saves energy, water, and money.
5:00 PM
Close of First Day
6:30 PM
7:00 PM

Reception
Dinner


WEDNESDAY, December 9
7:30 AM

Breakfast

8:30 AM
Alicia Jackson, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Drawbridge Health, Inc.
Biology is Technology: From Science Fiction to the Lab
Where is biology headed? Synthetic biology is exploding as a new industry, from turning turning microbes into factories, to engineering mosquitos that can eradicate malaria, to synthesizing new types of RNA and DNA vaccines. The promise is immense. However, cellular biology is still incredibly complex, making it difficult and costly to predict and engineer the biology that produces the outcomes we need. A new paradigm is emerging: high throughput automation, big data analytics, and new genetic engineering tools are transforming our ability to design and write genomes, transforming how we approach the problem. Big data enables parallel searches of new biological programs, while advances in automation makes high-throughput genome assembly and testing feasible, reproducible and cost-effective. At the same time, similar engineering tools are transforming Neurotechnology, enabling augmentation and improvements to human functions ranging from memory to the immune system.
9:15 AM
Seok-Hyun (Andy) Yun, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School
Intracellular Microlasers 
Scientists have figured out how to create miniature spherical chambers of mirrors that can be placed into cells—either soft chambers made of oil droplets or hard chambers made of solid beads of polystyrene. The interactions between the surfaces of these droplets and beads make their interior walls act like mirrors to certain frequencies of light. The narrow-band spectrum of light emitted by these intracellular lasers would allow us to label thousands—in principal up to a trillion—of cells individually, and the very specific wavelengths emitted by these microlasers also would allow us to measure small changes within a cell with much greater sensitivity. Applications range from diagnosing disease to new forms of biometric identification.
9:55 AM
Paul Woskov, Senior Research Engineer, Plasma Science and Fusion Center, MIT
Into the Bedrock by Full Bore Millimeter-Waves
Drilling into deep crystalline basement rock is a bottleneck technology to accessing vast resources of geothermal energy and to a possible solution to the nuclear waste storage problem. Commercially available high power millimeter-wave sources developed for fusion energy research could be a drilling game changer by enabling full bore directed energy penetration. This wavelength range propagates well through optically obscure paths and is well absorbed by rock melt, it can be efficiently guided long distances, and sources come in megawatt average power size units that are over 50% efficient. The electricity costs to melt or vaporize through a hard rock formation could be less than 1/10 of current costs of a deep mechanical drilled hole in softer rock. Melt/vaporization experiments of granite and basalt with a 10 mm wave beam have established its feasibility in the laboratory at MIT.
10:35 AM
Coffee Break
11:05 AM
Cun-Zheng Ning, Professor, Arizona State
White Lasers and Possible Applications
The recent demonstration of a monolithic semiconductor laser that emits white light opens the door to a wide range of important potential applications, such as solid-state lighting, full-color displays, visible color communications, and multi-color fluorescence sensing. These nanolasers can be dynamically tuned to emit over the full visible-color range, covering 70% more perceptible colors than the most commonly used illuminants.
11:45 AM
John Markoff, New York Times and Michael Hawley, TTI/Vanguard
A Conversation: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots
In the past decade alone, Google introduced us to driverless cars, Apple debuted a personal assistant that we keep in our pockets, and an Internet of Things connected the smaller tasks of everyday life to the farthest reaches of the internet. There is little doubt that robots are now an integral part of society, and cheap sensors and powerful computers will ensure that, in the coming years, these robots will soon act on their own. This new era offers the promise of immense computing power, but it also reframes a question first raised more than half a century ago, at the birth of the intelligent machine: Will we control these systems, or will they control us?
12:30 PM
Members' Working Lunch
1:45 PM
TTI/V Announcements
2:00 PM
Dmitriy Tseliakhovich, Co-founder and CEO, Escape Dynamics
Disrupting Aerospace
Exponential technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, 3-D printing, and nanomaterials, are impacting the way we fly and transport cargo in the atmosphere and into the Earth orbit. They are also enabling novel forms of space launch, space exploration, and aerospace propulsion. These disruptive aerospace developments will help solving many of the humanity’s greatest challenges and will have a dramatic impact on our businesses and projects here on Earth.
2:40 PM
Michael Rubinstein, Research Scientist, Google
Invisible Motion in Video
A new method, Eulerian Video Magnification makes it possible to reveal temporal variations in videos that are difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye and display them in an indicative manner. It takes a standard video sequence as input, and applies spatial decomposition, followed by temporal filtering to the frames. The resulting signal is then amplified to reveal hidden information, such as the flow of blood as it fills the face. The system runs in real time to show phenomena occurring at temporal frequencies selected by the user.
3:20 PM
Bob Lucky,TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board
Conference Reflections
4:00 PM
Close of Conference


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