FiRe conference goal: use technology to address world issues
September 23, 2016
Future in Review conferences, an event known as one of the leading global events that intersect technology and the economy, are different than other gatherings, according to Sharon Anderson Morris, program director for Strategic News Services Events and Future in Review events.
"It's not about going and listening to people that make you feel good and you then go home," Anderson Morris told The Park Record. "The Economist calls us the Best Technology Conference in the world because we get results. We, on average, have 15 world-changing announcements that come out of each of our events."
The 2016 Future in Review (FiRe) Conference, which is a Strategic News Service event, will be held Sept. 27 to Sept. 30 at Stein Eriksen Lodge.
"This is our 14th year for the conference and second year we are holding it in Park City," Anderson Morris said. "What we've been doing is bringing technology leaders from all over the world together to address major challenges that we can solve with technology."
Until 2014, the conference was held at Montage Laguna Beach.
"When Stein Eriksen finally opened up, I got to bring FiRe home," Anderson Morris said. "People seemed to love it up here. They love being in the mountains."
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The conference will feature speakers, presentations, workshops and documentary film screenings that tie into FiRe's focuses.
"We will take a look at channels in our business — those are health care, pure science, environment, global initiatives, economics, finance, energy computing, communications and education," Anderson Morris explained. "We look at all of the challenges in these channels three to five years out and bring the technology leaders in to identify and agree on the challenges and then ask, 'what can we do now as a world to avoid anything further from happening in these channels — the ocean, the environment, air and our species?' and then we come up with action items."
Unlike other conferences, participants work on these solutions year-round.
"A typical example is a woman, Katia Moritz, whom I met four years ago through our local FiRe Films Ambassador, filmmaker Geralyn Dreyfous," Anderson Morris said. "Katia, who is a therapist for kids with ADD and who are on the autistic spectrum, is an undiagnosed patient, which means she has an ailment but doesn't know what's wrong with her."
Moritz — the clinical director of the NeuroBehavioral Institute in Weston, Florida — told Anderson Morris that she wanted to make documentary film about being an undiagnosed patient.
"She realized that this is an epidemic," Anderson Morris said. "You see, we have old disease names, no treatments and people are dying, so she wanted to make a film and show it to the world."
Anderson Morris introduced Maritz to all of the FiRe technology leaders who are involved in health care and got them all involved with the film, which Moritz hopes will be finished in a year.
There is also now a global initiative of undiagnosed diseases from Harris and Harris, which is a group out of New York and Strategic News Service, according to Anderson Morris.
"We had our first huge meeting with technology companies that measure accurately things in our bodies that we haven't measured before — DNA sequencing, DNA disruptions familial, metabolism differentials — all the things that aren't just a blood test," she explained. "We have new diseases and we are working on finding out what those are and how we can cure them, so we are totally changing how the world looks at health care.
"The children who are in the film are working with these technology companies who are analyzing their symptoms and, hopefully, they will be able to survive," she said. "I would eventually like to get Microsoft and Oracle to create a gigantic database so that people who know someone who is undiagnosed can input their symptoms and we can all take a look to see what they really have."
This year's conference will feature an update on the film.
Other topics will include: animal rights, stopping human trafficking and the word's energy flows.
"We have a huge crisis in global warming and sea levels rising," Anderson Morris said. "When we study the energy flows, which create temperature change, we can see where the oceans are warmer and how that will affect the air surrounding the area and, in turn, how that will affect the animals.
"We know that we can't turn back the things that are done and happening," she said. "We can, however, hope to slow them down, but more so, we can learn what we need to do to adapt.
The topics emerge from FiRe staff research.
"We do a lot of reading and we look at the different channels to see what we can work on," Anderson Morris said.
Education is another channel that FiRe has in its crosshairs.
"We know we have tremendous work to do there, so, after our FiRe conference, we will take (the concepts) to the grade-school level and teach children how to look at the world the way we are as technology leaders," Anderson Morris said. "We want to let them start there and have them get excited about our world from that point of view."
Presenters at the 2016 conference include Hyperloop Transportation Technologies Chairman Bibop Gresta, entrepreneur Emmanuel Weyi, Warburg Pincus Managing Director and Senior Advisor William Janeway, Bellamica Pictures Founder Adriana LaCorte, Microsoft Chief Economist and Vice President R. Preston McAfee, Cyon Research Corporation President and CEO Brad Holz, Filmmaker Chris Hegedus, Aromyx CEO Chris Hanson and University of Utah SCI Institute Director Chris Johnson, to name a few.
"We'll open the conference with a cocktail reception on Tuesday and a speech by Utah's Lt. Governor Spencer Cox," Anderson Morris said. "We'll also introduce our FiReStarters throughout the conference."
The FiReStarter program, now celebrating its 10th year, showcases 12 businesses that are poised to change the world. They are selected by Strategic News Services investment members, according to Anderson Morris.
Some of these businesses this year include Atrin Pharmaceuticals, Aromyx, 24-Hour Solar Roof, OtoNexus and NanoXplore.
"Once we showcase these companies, we continue to work with them and keep our relationships going," Anderson Morris said.
Registration for the conference is open and can be done by visiting http://www.futureinreview.com.
"We cap it to 200 people, because when you get a really large group, you really can't get anything done," Anderson Morris said. "We are also offering a special rate for Utahns. We save a certain number of seats for them and this year, we will give a $2,500 discount to Utahns who want to attend."
The Future in Review (FiRe) Conference will be held at Stein Eriksen Lodge from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30. For more information and to register, visit http://www.futureinreview.com.
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