Exploring the outer reach of technology and personal development, assessing where our world is going

The Tanque Verde Ranch, Tucson, Arizona, 5-7 March 2020

Thursday 5 March 2020

18:00 – Onwards
CottonWood Grove
Registration of participants, welcome drinks.
19:30 – 21:30
CottonWood Grove
Outdoor Barbecue Welcome dinner
Who do you think you are? Our quest for identity in a global world
The evening is an opportunity to fellow participants to get to know one another and for an interactive discussion on how each of us defines her/his identity, why identity is assuming an even greater importance in our global world, and how we can address one crucial challenge of our times: Managing the right trade-off or mix between the need for endorsing and leveraging diversity in a global world and the increased quest for – and even anxiety about – identity that globalization generates.   

Discussion Initiator:
Homa Tavangar, Co-Founder, The Oneness Lab

While enjoying the traditional Southwest Barbeque.

Friday 6 March 2020

07:15 – 08:00
Saguaro Salon

Yoga Master Tara Rochlin will lead the group through a Yoga session awakening mind, body and spirit for the rest of the day.

Should you wish to start your day with Yoga or not, Breakfast will be served starting at 7:30am in the Kiva Dining Room where you will be free to join Ranch Guests and Agora Fellows.

09:00 – 10:00
Saguaro Salon
The years of living dangerously: A new era of Geopolitical and economic risks   

We not only have entered a new era of great power confrontation but also of tremendous stress on the global economic and trade system. Many of the basic premises and assumptions that have shaped the environment and rules under which every company and most governments around the world had been operating have become obsolete or have been turned upside down. As the rivalry between the US and China is not only economic, technological and strategic, but takes an increasing ideological tonality, as trade is being weaponized and protectionist practices and policies spread, and as populist, nationalist forces assert themselves and claim for legitimacy, companies, countries or even individuals can all of the sudden become collateral casualties of crises or confrontations in which they play no role.

  • Will this new global paradigm prove to be transitory or are we there for the long haul?
  • What are the two or three most “sensitive hot spots” that could trigger a chain reaction of events getting out of control?
  • Are there winners or losers that could be identified in this new context?

Discussion Initiator:
Claude Smadja, Founder & Chairman, Smadja & Smadja Strategic Advisory

10:00 – 10:30 Networking break
10:30 – 11:30
Saguaro Salon
Now to your life and your business: The Ubiquitous AI and how it changes (almost) everything
AI is already prevalent in our daily lives, business activities, interactions with others – more often than not in many ways that we don’t even suspect. This is however just the beginning as the accelerating expansion of AI applications to a number of domains and activities is changing almost everything. What about AI being used for faster and more accurate medical diagnosis, or for programmable robots that will cook your food? There are of course examples of quite a number of positive or benign applications that we have come to expect from AI developments. However, these developments are also – and most crucially – focused on creating machines and robots, capable of human-like intelligent activity and behavior and even being more capable than humans at performing some autonomous tasks.   

  • What are the next AI developments we should envision and prepare for in the next three to five years?
  • How to ensure that these developments don’t lead to the creation of “monsters”, in other words, generating tools and capabilities that would prove to be hugely detrimental to society, or providing new and huge powers and benefits that would remain in the hands of a minority of companies or individuals?
  • What should be the guidelines of an ethics for AI?
  • Whose role and responsibility should it be to define and implement these guidelines or rules?

Discussion Initiator:
Jessica Groopman, Founder, Kaleido Insights

11:45 – 12:45
Saguaro Salon
You are what you eat… And it goes even beyond that   

Can you imagine that already in 1826 Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, presumably the first gastronomic book author, wrote: “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”, but it is much later that the notion that food controls health became a popularly accepted one. However, make no mistake: the issue here is not about counting calories or about some new miracle weight-loss recipe but to take food seriously as a key element to help our body, brain and soul develop their potential, to help fight quite a number of avoidable diseases and to improve our psychological well-being and mental health.

  • What are the Dos and Don’ts in our eating habits?
  • What are the body mechanisms that make the food we eat impact so directly not only on our physical but also on our mental health?

Discussion Initiator:
Randall Stafford, Professor of Medicine, Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford School of Medicine

13:00 – 14:00
Cactus View
14:15 – 15:00
Saguaro Salon
What my horse taught me and what YOU need to know to get along…   

Discussion Initiators:
Yaël Smadja, Chief Executive Officer, Smadja & Smadja USA
Marte, Head Wrangler, Tanque Verde Ranch

15:15 – 16:15
Saguaro Salon
Please help me to get the truth. Finding our way through fake news and social media distortions   

We all know about famous examples of fake news, manipulation and deceptions on social media. But beyond some spectacular examples – and new ones keep coming up with a worrisome regularity – the flow of distorted realities and fake news distilled insidiously through social media platforms is having a deleterious impact on the way our political and social systems function. And this is even more worrisome as surveys show that a very significant percentage of teens and students in different countries cannot distinguish between fake and real news and have thus their perceptions and opinions distorted as the very moment in their lives when many of these opinions and perceptions are being shaped.

  • Are we equipped to detect fake from real news? Are there some basic tools or methods that we can use in our approach to news?
  • What can we do to ensure that the fight against fake news will not be a losing battle?
  • How to draw the line between control of social media contents and censorship?
  • Could the new tough laws in Germany and France obliging social media platforms to eliminate fake news within 24 hours of their detection lest they would incur very severe fines work and should they be emulated?

Discussion Initiator:
Matthew A. Baum, Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications, Professor of Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

16:15 – 16:30 Networking break
16:30 – 17:30
Saguaro Salon
Crispr/Gene editing: The Genie is out of the bottle. How are we going to rein it AND leverage it?   

When Chinese scientist He Jiankui revealed in November 2018 that he had “engineered” the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies, the condemnation was almost universal as these unprecedented gene edits will enter the human gene pool, with uncertain consequences. A Russian geneticist is now planning to edit a gene associated with deafness for five deaf couples. We are now entering an uncharted territory in gene editing, and the “genie is out of the bottle” leaving scientists and society to grapple with the crucial issue of whether to ban or severely discourage rogue human gene editing. Two international commissions – set up by the World Health Organization and the National Academies of Sciences – have been created to make recommendations on the medical and ethical application of germline editing. But will it be too late by the time these reports come out?

  • What does the discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 as a revolutionary gene editing tool means for the healthcare and biotech industry?
  • Is an international moratorium on new experiments on gene-edited babies warranted? Or should we continue a dialogue until there is an international consensus on what is permissible in this domain?
  • Is the concept of “designer babies” a science-fiction fantasy or a genuine medical possibility?
  • Does the era of genome editing change the way we conceive of life and the accepted notion of what is a human being?

Discussion Initiator:
Kevin Davies, Executive Editor, The CRISPR Journal, Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

17:45 – 18:45
Saguaro Salon
The anxious entrepreneur: Keeping your mental balance   

We all know about entrepreneurs’ success stories. The other side of the coin in many cases is the unrelenting pressure and the sleepless nights. Quasipermanent anxiety or even depression is a situation many entrepreneurs – as successful as they may be – have to deal with; and in many cases without even being able to acknowledge it or speak about it. Some surveys show that entrepreneurs are more likely to suffer from mental health problems compared to the population at large.

  • Beyond the importance of good sleep or even good diet what kind of mental discipline can help and how to acquire/achieve it?
  • What kind of adjustments in business practices/strategies might help?
  • How crucial is it to understand the importance of the environment you are in and to realize what changes or adaptations to make?

Discussion Initiator:
Louise Nicolson, Entrepreneur and Author

19:30 – 21:30
Desert View Terrace
Meet the Chef and discover local tastes AND… Relax while taking in the view…

Saturday 7 March 2020

07:15 – 08:00
Saguaro Salon

Yoga Master Tara Rochlin will lead the group through a Yoga session awakening mind, body and spirit for the rest of the day.

Should you wish to start your day with Yoga or not, Breakfast will be served at the Homestead.

08:00 – 09:30 Ride, Hike or just golf cart into the wild for Breakfast AND…   

Some food for thought

10:15 – 11:15
Saguaro Salon
What is going on with the global economy and the business landscape? Some key insights   

A number of well-established assumptions about the global business environment and the way the global economy functions have been turned upside down in the last few years. Businesses, new and well established, small and big are busy figuring out identifying and assessing the trends and forces reshaping the global economic and business landscape, what this “new normal” really is and what it means in the medium and long term, how to mitigate new risks and create or leverage new opportunities.

  • What are the drivers of change in the business and economic landscape and rules?
  • What does this mean for entrepreneurs looking at the future development and sustainability of their company?

Discussion Initiator:
Paul Sheard, Senior Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

11:30 – 12:30
Saguaro Salon
Sustaining creative innovation   

Every startup founder, every entrepreneur keeps struggling with the challenge of sustaining innovation and creativity in the company. How to stimulate our own creativity and innovation capabilities and those of our team? Are there conditions that can be created, mechanisms or recipes that can be used? Everybody will speak about the need for creating a culture and mindset of innovation. But beyond the standard answers on how to do that, found in most management books, how to balance a certain tolerance for failure, and empowering people for experimentation, with the need to set high expectations on yourself and the team around you? How to unbind creativity while maintain discipline on strategic priorities? How to create a process of ideas generation?

Discussion Initiator:
Dave Rochlin, Executive Director, Innovation, Creativity and Design Practice, The Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley

12:45 – 14:15
Cactus View
14:45 – 15:45
Saguaro Salon
The US-China Tech war: The winners and the losers   

The US and China are now engaged in a battle for technological and strategic supremacy – with tremendous business, economic and strategic stakes involved. Artificial intelligence and Deep Learning, advanced robotics, new materials, 5G are among the technologies defining the commanding heights of the 21st century economy. While the US had a clear technological leadership position ten years ago, the picture is now much blurred with China now a leader in some domains and the US still leading in other domains. The prospect of a Tech cold war is now with us as the Trump administration is engaged in a full-fledged containment policy to slow down or even thwart Beijing’s ambitions in key technologically strategic areas. With new US regulations on technology transfer and export controls, on Chinese investments in the US and on US investments in companies even linked indirectly and loosely to Chinese official entities, there is now a significant risk for even non-US or non-Chinese companies to become collateral casualties of this situation, and/or to see their margin of maneuver quite reduced.

  • As China accelerates its technological drive to achieve self-sufficiency in critical domains, what could a potential technological division of the world between a US and a China center mean?
  • Who could end up being the winners or the losers in such a situation?

Discussion Initiators:
Rebecca Fannin, Journalist, author and media entrepreneur
Peter A. Petri, Carl Shapiro Professor of International Finance, Brandeis International Business School, Senior Fellow of the East-West Center

15:45 – 16:15 Networking break
16:15 – 17:30
Saguaro Salon
Emotional intelligence: The secret behind success   

It has now been more than 20 years that Daniel Goleman’s book “Emotional intelligence, why it can matter more than IQ” attracted worldwide attention as it showed how the ability to understand and manage emotions – one’s and others’ emotions -significantly increases our chances of success. So, while knowledge-based education is still generally seen as a condition for success, there is now an increased emphasis on so-called “soft and transversal” skills that can make us practical and pragmatic, able to adapt to new situations and to lead successfully. It is not anymore only IQ but also EQ that counts.

  • As emotions are our guide to take action but anger or anxiety are not necessarily our best guides. How can we learn to flow with our emotions through awareness to focus and maximize our energy?
  • What qualities do we need to nurture to manage our own emotions and – may be even more importantly – to identify and understand other people’s emotions

Discussion Initiator:
Cary Cherniss, Professor of Applied Psychology, Rutgers University

17:15 – 18:00
Saguaro Salon
Connecting the dots: A few things to take back home
18:30 – 21:00
Rincon Terrace
Until the next time… A drink, or more, southwest snacks and future plans