Smart Solutions to the World’s Toughest Challenges

There is perhaps no greater force for change than a powerful idea. Thousands of ideas have come to life through the Aspen Ideas Festival, commanding the attention – and inspiring action – of millions around the world who share a desire to create a better future. Earlier this month, several of Stern Speakers’ most visionary thinkers and doers headlined the 11th annual Aspen Ideas Festival, joining some of the world’s most intriguing minds and other powerhouse speakers to discuss smart solutions to our toughest challenges.

  • Is smart technology the ultimate job repository with unlimited opportunity? Or has it made it even more difficult to start and keep a job without it eventually becoming outsourced by low-priced human labor or robots? Andrew Keen, an authoritative voice on the digital revolution and its impact on culture and the economy, and Jonathan Zittrain, the world’s leading Internet scholar who has made it his mission to protect the Internet’s promise of innovation while combating its greatest threats, square off in an impassioned debate on Smart Technology—Future Employer or Job Destroyer?

Zittrain, Harvard Law School Professor and co-founder and chairman of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, also discusses Data Ethics in the Age of the Quantified Society.

  • Time is running short for solving the greatest civilization challenges of our day, including climate change and universal healthcare. There’s the seductive view – one that innovation expert, technologist and publisher of MIT Technology Review Jason Pontin wants to believe – that the Internet is the answer. But Is The Internet Taking Us Where We Want to Go? Pontin ponders the question with the promise to delve deeper into the answer and potential solutions at MIT’s inaugural SOLVE conference this fall.
  • Always on, the Internet allows us to collaborate and communicate on a scale never seen in human history, but it’s far from perfect, cautions Sherry Turkle, who has spent the last 30 years researching the psychology of our relationships with technology. Machines have no friendship to offer, and yet we persist in the desire for conversation, companionship and even communion with the inanimate. Who Do We Become When We Talk to Machines? Turkle explores this provocative question and reminds us how to remember ourselves in “the robotic moment.”
  • Around the world, the struggle against infectious disease persists – the plague, HIV, SARS, MERS, Ebola. We can’t predict where or when the next one will appear, or how devastating it will be, but we know it’s coming, says Larry Brilliant, pioneering public health expert who helped lead the team that eradicated smallpox in India in 1980. Yet, children in many nations are dying from vaccine-preventable infections, and in the U.S., measles is on the rise. Infectious Diseases Are Here to Stay; we need to be prepared.

Brilliant also discusses Building Resilient Health Systems, and the integrated approaches needed to deliver healthcare effectively to individuals, mount vigorous public health responses to crises, and confront new and long-standing global health and development challenges.

Stern Strategy Group: