A place of hope - Transformative Technology Conference
Over thirteen hundred people convened in Palo Alto at the Transformative Technology Conference to discuss a wide range of topics all centered around improving our state of consciousness. You can get a flavor for the content in the table below:
This was the second year that we attended the event, which was packed with a stimulating collection of presentation, talks, and interactive programing. Diet, sleep, light, meditation, implants, psychedelics, supplements, and VR were all showcased as mechanisms to address everything from stress, depression, obesity, Alzheimer, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's, and a wide range of other diseases. It's a lot to unpack, but here were my main takeaways:
Breakthroughs? - hundreds of different companies were present, which have cumulatively raised hundreds of millions of dollars to target some of the most pressing ailments in society. While very exciting, it was tough to delineate which showed true efficacy as the sample sizes were fairly small and didn't represent the normal population. Consequently, very few of the projects have yet to receive FDA approval. But you have to start somewhere, and seeing this community first hand gives me confidence that we have the right people leading the charge.
Corporate innovation - businesses see an opportunity and need to get more involved in the behavior health of their employees. This includes major global institutions like LinkedIn, Salesforce, and Phillip Morris. While these initiatives require a significant investment, they have been able to demonstrate a positive ROI through higher productivity and retention of their workforce. However, by offering these services they acknowledged that they are leaving themselves open to questions about their increasing role in the lives of their workforce. But if they don't do it, who will?
Hacking the human psyche - while we still don't know much about the brain, we know a lot about human behavior. Massive businesses are raking in huge profits by "weaponizing" our data against us to stimulate engagement. Rather than exile technology, we need to educate society about the externalities and repurpose their UX and gamification tactics to combat these trends. As one panelist quipped, "We haven’t ended up in the best places but we can go from here."
1% - The event was a reminder about all of the possibilities of humanity, that is of course, if you have the intentionality and the means. As the saying goes, “The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed”. We need to collectively keep pushing the envelope and creating a rising tide for all boats.
It is comforting knowing the some of the brightest people in the world are focused on these challenges, but we are just scratching the surface of the challenges in mental health and mental illness.