Knowledge Rules

The top 5 things I learned while getting high at the Up Experience

The top 5 things I learned while getting high at the Up Experience

The UP Experience, crowd, auditorium, Stafford Performing Arts Theatre
The Up Experience hosts some dozen speakers of global repute who share their latest research in fields ranging from education, medicine, technology, philanthropy and current events. The UP Experience/Facebook
Marc Goodman at the UP Experience 2013
Marc Goodman Courtesy of The UP Experience
Dr. Eric Topol at the UP Experience 2013
Dr. Eric Topol Courtesy of The UP Experience
Janine Driver at the UP Experience 2013
Janine Driver Courtesy of The UP Experience
Dan Pallotta the UP Experience 2013
Dan Pallotta Courtesy of The UP Experience
Sugata Mitra at the UP Experience 2013
Sugata Mitra Courtesy of The UP Experience
Jack Andraka at the UP Experience 2013
Jack Andraka Courtesy of The UP Experience
Crowd at the Up Experience 2013
The crowd at the 2013 Up Experience. Courtesy of The UP Experience
The UP Experience, crowd, auditorium, Stafford Performing Arts Theatre
Marc Goodman at the UP Experience 2013
Dr. Eric Topol at the UP Experience 2013
Janine Driver at the UP Experience 2013
Dan Pallotta the UP Experience 2013
Sugata Mitra at the UP Experience 2013
Jack Andraka at the UP Experience 2013
Crowd at the Up Experience 2013

I got high at the Up Experience. Not from sniffing smelly markers or from imbibing purple drank, but from a barrage of nonstop are-you-serious intel that blows your mind and reframes how you view the world.   

The yearly, daylong conference, held at the Stafford Centre, hosts some dozen speakers of global repute who share their latest research in fields ranging from education, medicine, technology, philanthropy and current events. These influentials are the innovators of today — among them are authors, doctors, inventors, researchers, business leaders and entrepreneurs — who collectively have the pulse on current trends that predict the future.

It's an impossible task to capture every detail, thought and statistic that was shared in each 20-minute presentation. Instead, below find my top five things that will surely remain ingrained in my gray matter — for better or for worse.

Cyber Blackmail

Why do criminals rob banks? Simply put, because of economies of scale, as in more loot in one hit.

It's the rationale for infamous train robberies of yesteryear, and it's the impetus behind the growth of global Internet no-nos. Criminologist and author Marc Goodman estimates that 600,000 people are cyber hacked every day.

I f you control the code, you control the world. More connections equals more vulnerability. 

Take the Chinese government, for example, which employs more than 3,000 tech geeks to infiltrate firewalls. Blackmail and extortion is big business. In Japan, users of child pornography platforms were threatened with revealing their identities if they didn't fork over large sums of cash. Nevertheless, Goodman warns against attributing virtual misdeeds to international espionage activities.

Let's not forget why Julian Paul Assange and Edward Snowden gained notoriety in the first place.

Lesson learned? If you control the code, you control the world. More connections equals more vulnerability. The solution, Goodman proposes, is crowdsourced security, because public safety is too important to leave it only to the professionals.

The doctor will see you know, her name is Siri

The modern version of a practicing physician is a dying vocation, posits Dr. Eric Topol. Whereas the general practice of medicine has concentrated on creating protocols that affect the masses, a revolution that has increased the use bio sensors attached to personal mobile devises has the potential to focus on the individual.

Cars have more than 400 sensors, cellphones have more than 10. Imagine what can happen if personal objects like necklaces, gloves and socks had sensors that could measure vital signs? Diagnose an ear infection via apps? Even predict a heart attack days in advance?

The future is now. Mobile phone imaging capabilities are in use. Topol predicts that science data analysts will rule the medical industry of tomorrow.

Your body cannot lie

There's no fooling former CIA agent, body language expert and author Janine Driver, who can read body language to uncover the hidden stories behind casual, matter of fact statements. Driver, however, advises not to assume that gestures such as shoulder shrugs and half smiles or smirks indicate that a lie has just been told. Instead, automatic responses disclose that there's information withheld. Don't settle for the first response. Ask follow-up questions.

Driver's tip to look secure and powerful: Adopt the Steve Jobs pose, make a fist and rest it below your chin.

Charity Paradox

"We have a visceral reaction to the idea that anyone would make very much money helping other people," Dan Pallotta says. "Interesting that we don't have a visceral reaction to the notion that people would make a lot of money not helping other people."

Pallotta speaks of what nonprofit organizations label as "overhead," the ratio of administrative costs in comparison to dollars that directly benefit a cause. Two percent of country's gross domestic product is donated to charity, a number that hasn't increased since it began being measured in 1970. 

How can the nonprofit sector grow if it isn't "allowed" to compensate their leaders competitively, if advertising dollars are limited and if risk-taking is frowned upon? If you prohibit failure, you kill innovation — something that's true in any endeavor.

Leave children alone and they will learn

Sugata Mitra, professor of educational technology at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, studied how children interact with unknown objects when left unattended. When a computer was installed in a public space in a rural village in India, his research shows that in nine months children's computer literacy grew to the same level as a typical secretary in more developed societies.

Mitra says that groups of children can learn most things on their own, something that's readily evident in wunderkind Jack Andraka, who at age 15 devised a test for the early detection of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer.

Andraka, now 16, inspired by the loss of a close family friend, began his journey with Google searches and Wikipedia articles, but found difficulty in accessing information guarded by pay walls that inhibit the free flow of information, particularly scientific journals. If institutions such as Harvard University can't afford the cost of publishing journals, the price is steep for curious minds who have the ability to change the world.

And what have you done lately, may I ask?