From the Futures Forum - Experts Identify Critical Challenges and Opportunities

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Thu, 11/11/2004 - 18:03.

NEOSA and REI staged a remarkable economic development event
in this Future Forum, and Myers University Club was a great venue -
congratulations to all the organizers and presenters. The objective was to
"focus on the impact of new and disruptive technologies and trends -
helping us to visualize the potential and possibilities as well as the risk
inherent in all change" and attendees certainly got alot to think about.
To put things in blunt conclusion, the future is terrifying.

First presenter: David Beach, Executive Director,
EcoCityCleveland - Sustainable Development-Designing NEOhio in Balance with

David Beach starts the forum with the revelation we are consuming 20% more
natural resources than Earth produces - we must change our footprint. Points
out recent articles in the PD about the melting icecaps - and the Pentagon's
investments in dealing with our failing ecology, being a greater threat then

He suggests visiting,
which analyzes how your lifestyle impacts ecology - how much biologically
productive land is required to support your lifestyle - he confesses he learned
there that we need 26 acres to sustain his lifestyle (and he considers himself
a good ecological citizen), and if everyone on earth lived the way he does we'd
need 6 planets for all the earth's citizens.

He wants our region to start thinking about how to live in
balance with nature - reduce global warming gases we produce... green
building... wind turbines, which would keep our fuel dollars here (e.g. wind
conference)... smarter land use to reduce impact of transportation - making
cities livable reduces driving and emissions, and gets people walking and
healthier - make cars more ecological - grow more food close to home - consider
transportation required to bring food to table - make healthier food in the
process (Clevelanders are among world's least healthy). Shift land use toward
agricultural balance. Appreciate the diversity of partners required for this
movement - new institutions and leaders and that means new jobs.

Why become a climate neutral region? Feel good (morally and
physically), yes. More important, we must change for Earth to survive - regions
which figure these things out first - early adopters - will be more successful
- higher quality of life - greater prosperity - healthier... Vancouver did a
long term plan called sustainable urban systems and we should follow their
model - continually renew!

Bottom line, we need to transform how humanity lives on this
planet and we can start working on that right here today in NEO.

David was the optimistic messenger of the forum, dealing
with the most familiar territory!


Dr. Lawrence Krauss, Chairman, Department of Physics, CWRU -
Revolutionizing Biology - Nanotechnology and Information Processing

In his cosmological sense, next decade is the present -
longer term is next generation and 50 years, and that is still nearly the

When one considers nanotechnology one often sees talk of
nanobiotechnology - further, we're doing quantum engineering at the atom level,
and look to building devices at the atomic level, and building biological
materials at that level. Symbiotic relationship - ripe for opportunity -
healthcare and technology - can create new jobs in NEO. Yet considering the
recent political controversy around stem cells and realize they are the tip of
the iceberg, as far as risks of current biology - if you are scared of that,
just wait for nanobiology. Don't worry about impact of any of this because it
will be done, and that will change the nature of life... if it can be done
it will - reality of science world-wide.

Regarding IT - the first diode was invented 100 years ago -
start of information technology - Moores law has held true and will continue to
- at the rate we're going we'll be able to create teleporter in less than 200
years. No evidence human consciousness is anything more than information
processing - in the not too distant future computers will be self aware and
self programming. Next issue is quantum computing - many things happen at the
same time - computer with that principle can do billions of things at the same
time - convergence of changing technology and biology will develop computers
that will become self aware and more powerful than biology, meaning we will
integrate computing into biology - making borgs - this will happen. Scary yes -
but from local perspective also opportunity, and may as well stay at the
leading edge here.

Unless you really like Star Trek (which Krauss does), you do
not like the picture of the future forming at the Future Forum so far.Â
Only the beginning...


Dr. Stan Gerson, Director, Ireland Cancer Center - Stem Cell
Research-Where Do We Go From Here?

Stem Cells - NEO's already known for high level of research
on stem cells. Now learning how to use for organ transplants - treat heart
disease - heal fractures - exciting time in our healthcare world - $25 million
in NIH money here for stem cell research. Exploring neural stem cells - blood
stem cells.

Moving from lab and early clinical phase to healthcare based
on how to use cells - 10-20 years from now, will supplant drug therapy to
replenish organs - we will all be living longer if we have access - Once you
start considering you may manipulate body using cells and add nanotech for
diagnosis and treatment, you realize we have strengths here in all areas.

As an example, here is how we'll use this to cure diabetes -
introduce stem cells and sensor proteins for gene therapy - transplant into
body with blood vessel engraftment - add MEMS sensors that monitor glucose, add
nano-drug delivery to insure normal blood sugar - all can be done with existing
technology - just need to complete trials to put to market.

Sounds good - NEO is expert in healthcare already, and
leading research into stem cells and nanotech and nanomedicine - we have the
destiny to prolong human life - and the next presentation considers that and
the implications...


Tom Zenty, President and CEO, University Hospitals
Healthcare System -The Future of Health Care in the US…and the World

Consider our exceptional cancer research center -
demographic impact - within next 20-30 years.

But, consider serious global healthcare issues! By 2025 most
of world's developed nation's populations will be over age 60 and world
population is expected to double over the next generation - to over 10 billion
(raising seriousness of David Beach's eco-concerns). Disease is transferring
between nations - and antibiotics are declining in effectiveness - have nots
are going to become more hostile and haves more "secretive" about
their health-gap - healthcare costs are going to keep rising (around 18%/year
right now) - huge proportion of people are uninsured and that is increasing -
economy has shifted to lower level lower paying jobs and concern is rising
about controlling 1) low cost, 2) high access and 3) high quality and
realization you can only have 2 out of these three outcomes - especially as
average life expectancy is becoming 90+.

Year 2020 - convergence of biology & technology for
predictive systems - molecular diagnostics - minimally invasive treatments -
focus on aging process - management of chronic conditions - pressures on
Medicare/aid - increased care-giving to parents/elderly - 2 people working for
every one retired - shift to longer living aging population.

2020 IT applications to patient diagnostics - elimination of
retiree health benefits - people working into 70s - 80s - 15-20% healthcare
cost increase per year - entitlement disappearing.

Improving people's health - genetic markers - nanotech -
stem cells - wearable diagnostics and monitoring - lots of money going to all
of this world-wide now and in future.

Personalized healthcare in 2020 - genetic links to diseases
- predictive and probability analysis - monitoring what you are likely to get -
targeted diagnostics - more options in treatment selection - individualized -
treatment monitoring making results better.

Shifts in direction - interconnectedness of data will change
organization of healthcare - treatment will be based on measurable outcomes -
more shopping and buyer assumptions - move more healthcare out of hospitals
into outpatient - home interventions - focus on prevention, molecular
intervention and lifestyle. He considers difference in lifestyle here vs. LA -
NEO has most smokers, most fast food restaurants, least opportunity for
exercise - all bad for NEO - considering incentives for healthier lifestyles.

Patient bed days per 1000 – in LA 3.5 - in OH 4.5 - but
rapid declines overall so soon may be excess hospital beds. Aging population
presented in charts - cost of healthcare goes up dramatically per person as
aging - 12% of people over 60 are 40% of costs - end of life care consumes
10-12% of healthcare costs - 1/3 of Medicare is spent on fatal conditions - 27-30%
is spent on last year of life and 40% of that is spent on last month of life -
hospice care is important option to save on that.

Of healthcare costs rising, hospital costs are lowest rate
per year - drugs are by far the highest portion - 20% annual increases and


Q&A –

Grant Marquit (Sr. Manager of Education Programs at COSE)
asks David Beach how his talk relates to other presenters – Beach sees
challenge in America today to free open intellectual and scientific inquiry at
the Federal Government level - and just as stem cell research is held hostage
we see ecological thinking help hostage... putting USA behind with each –
Krauss sees David’s viewpoint on dangers in our ecology as too optimistic and
sees energy crisis as only being addressable with new power generation
technology – or we are in deep trouble.

Another attendee asks if, based on increasing costs of all
research surfaced in all this, is there the hope to shift healthcare costs
down? Zenty says it is less costly to cure problems than treat them to death –
but cost will continue to be a big portion of GNP for foreseeable future.
Points out policy follows money and statistics say the more supply and demand
is based on cost to individual of healthcare - coming out of our literal
pockets (which is inevitable, as insurance and entitlement models fail) then
behavior patters will change – end of life costs will be a big issue – means
testing will change what care people seek – sees interest in complimentary

Question on how to make things better here – Krauss points
out none of these issues were subject in the Presidential election so we who
care about these issues need to be more activist and outspoken. Gerson stresses
we need to take more responsibility for our own lifestyles – that will change
the economics – Beach certainly sees opportunities at the individual level and
at the community level… points to how unhealthy Clevelanders are and the cost
of that for society.

Acme Express CEO Don Scipione asks how do we convince
national and community leaders to push economic development in the smart,
sustainable, right direction – Cleveland State Pres. Michael Schwartz says
agenda shifted to fear of gays as a transferal, so to speak – he sees that the
population at large is not educated to understand the issues discussed in the
room today so instead people debate and fear what they can understand – surface
morals – Krauss believes if we believe in democracy then we need to put trust
in informing the people and letting them make good decisions – need to spread
word – toward that end, Krauss was one of the 60 globally renowned scientists
who signed the letter to Bush saying that important information about science
issues was not flowing freely and honestly in America – administration's denial
about global warming is the example.

Q. Someone ask how do we make education work – can’t educate
politicians… need to educate people who put them in power. Fear that the
hostility of the underclass leads to defensiveness and aggressiveness of ruling
class – e.g. war. Zenty points to local vs. national vs. global issues/politics
– take advantage of integration of strengths in NEO as a good start to have
impact everywhere else. Gerson points out we spend 17% of GDP on healthcare -
$1.7 trillion per year – Greenspan is the guy who has raised the issue we need
to change Medicare/aid policy – no politicians will touch it, e.g. last 30 day
of life costs (who wants to say unplug your mom?).

Beach says we need to continue the forum – we need to share
our side – need to make the information sexier and more interesting – business
CEOs are realists – they will drive the debate, because it impacts their bottom

The group here has presented a unique question – if it’s not
sexy and interesting to think about all these issues how to do so – attendee
says lets put the framework at the 5th grade level... Krauss jokes that's still
shooting too high – put fear factor at the right level... get Spielberg
involved spreading the word through popular media – Krauss did meet with and
put that challenge to Mr. Spielberg, and he is interested…

My closing thoughts...

Conclude from all this the world is headed for louder crises
than anything we've ever heard in Cleveland before, or any terrorist attack (as
Beach points out the Pentagon has realized) and the crises are ecological, accelerated
by population growth, to become worse as better healthcare makes people live
longer, as the wealthy expand their healthcare gap from the poor, at great
expense and economic impact in developing nations, to the detriment of people
in undeveloped nations, whose people will increasingly suffer and die in
outrage - and consider how NEO should fit into this future, and

First, we should become one place on earth that considers
our impact on ecology - be an EcoCity - build green, invest in sustainable
energy solutions - develop a livable city - use public transportation - etc.!
By excelling at all this, we move ahead of the curve, becoming a more desirable
place to live, work and invest, and gain strengths in related businesses and
industries (for an example of this opportunity surfaced at the
Wind Power Conference this week
, Pennsylvania invests in wind power
generation and now is becoming a center for wind generation equipment

We should continue to pursue to be a global leader in every
piece of the puzzling future - hand's on health-care, nanotech, nanobio, MEMS,
stem cells, quantum computing, etc. - but we should also lead in the
development of smart health management solutions for our people at home -
predictive and preventative public health (including getting people to quit
smoking, improve diet, increase exercise - live smarter), pain management,
hospice care - become healthy people in a healthy place, making the rest of the
world healthier in the process.

More to post on next steps from this Future Forum in the
near future... next step is help save the world.