Ideacity 2013: Live Blog, Day 3

And that wraps up Ideacity 2013! Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s conference, whether in person or online. For those looking to get a head start on buying tickets for next year’s event, click here for pricing info and to purchase. And don’t forget to send us your thoughts on the conference on Twitter at @Zoomer and @ideacityNews (#ideacity), on Facebook, or tweet me at @MikeCrisolago.

7:13: And now, “The Flashback Band” ABBAmania takes the stage to play Ideacity 2013 off in style!

6:50: Robert wraps up to great applause, and we’re preparing for the final prize giveaway!

He wants us to examine every idea with a “very critical eye for the upsides, and the downsides.”

Also, we need to think of bettering humanity, not just profits, when talking technological entrepreneurialism.

6:40: Robert believes Cody Wilson, who spoke yesterday, was bang on when he said the single most important thing that must happen at a technological juncture is to get the downside into the dialogue as quickly as possible, and talk about the negatives as well as the positives.

He notes that a lot of the great ideas we’ve heard were presaged in science fiction — from the flying cars discussed (The Jetsons) to the glowing plants (Avatar).

Robert asks what’s the difference between a geek and a nerd: “A geek wonders what sex is like in zero gravity. A nerd wonders what sex is like.”

He has a laser pointer and notes the first suggestion of a laser beam in literature was all the way back in H.G Welles’ War of the Worlds.

6:32: Up next is the final speaker: a writer who’s work Moses says is “amazingly believable” and “completely engaging,” the “Sci-Fi Scribe” Robert J. Sawyer.

Conrad responds: “I believe it has to be but I’m not sure it’ll be quite in the way he has in mind. I’m sure that he’s right, but I’m not sure he’s right in the way that’ll make him the next Prime Minister.” He also notes that, while he disagrees with Daniel Bell’s ideas about benevolent dictators, it’s an honour to be on the same show as he was on and that he admires his work.

He believes democracy and capitalism are the best systems we have. No society is perfect, he notes, “but I think we’re doing quite well.”

6:28: Moses takes the stage and asks Conrad if he thinks that the previous speaker, Michael Nicula, was right that the Internet will be a political game changer around the world?

Technology has nothing to do with political gridlock, and is not the answer. The answer is rooted in modern American history.

In Canada, we have a “relatively serene political climate” compared to the U.S., which employs “idiots on the right and left shouting at each other making no sense at all.”

Conrad describes a civil war in American media which reflects the American policy makers and political battles. He says people do nut trust the network media.

He says the national media “betrayed and destroyed” Nixon’s successful presidency.

6:17: After listing the multitude of reasons for his impeachment, Conrad calls it “throwing spaghetti against the wall,” saying none of them were actually credible. He blames it on Nixon’s bad relationship with the media and “mismanagement” of the “investigation.”

He says Nixon’s approval-rating was at 70 per cent when he stepped down and it slipped in the months after he stepped down, leading to calls for his impeachment.

Conrad begins discussing the “undeclared war” that was Vietnam, pivotal cultural events of the time, and praises the work of Richard Nixon in the ensuing years leading to his re-election.

6:07: Moses introduces “The Historian” Conrad Black.

Michael closes with the humble plea: “This is my idea, and I hope you will like it and will support our candidates.”

Michael notes that if the Online Party of Canada was in power today, marijuana would be legalized. That got the audience clapping.

Accountability is what’s missing, Michael says, in the relationship between elected officials and voters.

“The Internet is going to change politics as we know it…not just in Canada, but everywhere. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

5:58: Initiatives are presented and presented and ratified based on majority votes. MP’s have to vote according to the outcome of the public vote. This is where the contract mentioned earlier comes in.

The Online Party, formed in 2009, is a “participatory democracy.” He says people are not Liberal, Conservative, or Green, but rather a mix and it changes when it comes to different issues. The party requires elected officials to sign a contract to ensure they follow through on their mantras and promises. It’s also non-partisan: anyone from any party can register to vote on issues.

“The Internet is changing everything.” Exhibit A: the Arab Spring.

In 1989, he took part in a bloody rebellion against a Romanian dictatorship, and saw how the party collapsed. He also recognized the importance of media. In 1996, he immigrated to Canada. He’s also travelled to North Korea and all sorts of other oppressive or war torn places. He says he’s seen half the world and observed all the different political systems.

“I broke a door into the political establishment.”

5:49: He’s dealt a lot with unions and government in his career. The online party is his hobby. A few months ago it became the 19th political party in Canada. It’s not just a theoretical idea — it’s a federally-registered party.

Michael has a masters of architecture and an executive MBA and is a soon-to-be CPA certified accountant.

“The challenge is how do you uses the power of the Internet to…bring the power back to the citizens.”

5:45: Moses introduces “The Online Official” Michael Nicula, who founded a new Canadian political party — the Online Party of Canada.

Daniel admits he isn’t saying its a perfect system, but possibly style of system to consider.

Hopefully one of these experiments starts helping all of the Chinese citizens living in poverty.

He argues a system of various political experiments around regions of China make it a very decentralized political system, not a centralized one.

Daniel proposes a “vertical model”: meritocratically elected officials at the top, democratically elected officials at the bottom, and room for experimentation in the middle.

Sometimes, as in China and the U.S., voters vote with the interests of the community in mind. The problem is that the votes affect the non-voting community, ie. future generations.

5:33: First way of reconciling democracy and meritocracy: leave it to the voters to decide. Unfortunately, he says, the voters aren’t always rational and misunderstand the economic interests. Also, voters often vote in an immoral manner — we vote according to our short-term economic interests.

We want political leaders with who exercise their powers over us in a reasonable way. And we want leaders who aren’t corrupt. I guess Daniel hasn’t been keeping up with the latest not he senate spending scandal.

He says the standard story that there hasn’t been any political reform in China in recent years is wrong. He says its been happening since the 90s.

“We have to challenge the political intuitions we learn as children.”

From Montreal, Daniel spent more than a decade teaching political theory in Beijing.

Moses asks, when it comes to politics, “Does the west know best, or does the east?” And to help answer, here’s “The Confucian Scholar” Daniel Bell

5:25: We’re back with what Moses calls “a session dedicated to policy wonks.”

4:48: Time for a quick, 20 minute conversation break and then we’ll be back!

They hope to help people “stop and notice the unexpected moments of beauty that are around you in the world everyday.”

4:42: Pretty cool — they also created a surface with material that emitted specific glowing colours depending how you touched or even layer on it. A very personal experience.

4:39: They also aligned the fabric with the light to create a unique visual landscape.

One acoustical intervention they created was an acoustical sound stair: they manipulated the conditions inside a stairwell that was constructed of concrete with loud echoes and acoustics. There was also a singular void that connected all the levels in the stairwell. Light came in from the top of the stairwell too. They tested different fabrics in the stairwell and designed a three-point pivot structure that let fabric flow between floors. The first floor had one layer of fabric in front of it and by the time you got to the fourth there were 16 layers of fabric. From the top to the bottom, reflections increased so people had to talk louder and louder as they went to each floor.

They hope to make people more aware of their environments as they move through them.

They formed the collective mk+H. They’ve created a vest called “Like a hug” developed at the MIT media lab that actually gives you a hug when someone “likes” your status on Facebook.

4:29: Moses introduces “The Cyber/Space Crusaders” Melissa Chow & Helena Slosar.

Moses notes that a lot of people think it’s a stunt. Mike says if it is, it’s a long-term stunt. You can buy stocks of Mike here.

Overall, he learned that he had to trust the shareholders, and that they could trust him. The experiment works. There’s a flow of 6,000 shares of Mike on the market right now.

To make the leap into a full-fledged relationship, they needed a multi-page contract to work out the details of money to be exchanged, etc.

4:19: At one point, one person he was dating bought 50 shares, which means she had lots of voting power about his life and dating and could see all of the reports.

The Romance Advisory Board is the shareholder group that decides on his love life. He’d go on dates, share experiences with the Board, and get an approval rating on who he was dating.

Any time he’d normally ask friends for advice, he asks his shareholders and they vote and decide for him. As a result, he was mandated to register as a Republican, became an ordained minister, and worked on many other projects.

He built his own market to trade himself on. Today, he’s trading for $13.75 a share.

4:10: We’re back, and Moses is introducing the world’s first “Publicly Traded Person” Mike Merrill, who, in, 2008, divided himself into shares for $1 a piece and lets stockholders decide what he should do with his life and who he should date.

3:50: Quick stretch break in the auditorium. We’ll be back shortly.

Even math-related love stories can have a fairytale ending.

“It turns out there is an algorithm for love, but you have to write it yourself.” She says you have to create your own and go after what you want and not be afraid. Know what you want and try hard to find it.

Also, optimism counted for a lot. And timing matters. And those “showing skin in a healthy way that didn’t look smutty” in photos seemed to be key. She adjusted her profile accordingly and got lots of replies, but they didn’t reach the point value she required. Except for one, who she ended up marrying. When she’d scored him, he scored more than 1000 points. They’re married with a daughter now.

She found that content matters a lot – 97 word profiles, and non-specific info (i.e. don’t mention a specific film you love, because others may hate it, but instead mention a genre.)

Was still not working because some men that she found didn’t want to be with her. So she created 10 fake male profiles to see who the female competition was. Each profile was a combination of the great points she was looking for in a man. All this was done in the name of science and love.

She decided that men would need 700 points for her to speak to, 900 to go on a date, and no less than 1400 for her to consider a long-term relationship.

She eventually realized the algorithms work, but it’s the bad data we enter that messes the process up. So she decided to reverse-engineer the online dating process by compiling 72 different data points of things she wants (i.e.. “Jew…ish, like me”, “works hard,” “someone who would weigh 20 pounds more than me at all times, no matter what I weigh.”) She then prioritized each point and assigned a value to each point. Instead of the algorithm matching her with someone, she used math to match herself with men.

Amy copied and pasted parts of her resume into her online dating profile. She says the algorithms still connected her with men who wanted to take her out. Of course, they were awful dates. Don’t believe her? One stuck her with a near $1400 bill after dinner.

She decided she could either take her chance with finding one of the 35 men in Philadelphia, or try online dating. She was attracted to the online dating algorithms. Algorithms, she says, were used by ancient Jewish matchmakers even thousands of years ago.

3:30: Amy wondered what the probability was of meeting Mr. Right in Philadelphia. After all factors were considered, her wants and needs, it came down to 35 men. “I had a problem.”

Moses thanks Marina, and then tells the audience: “Prepare for the next blow,” before introducing “The Data Dater” Amy Webb.

“To me, the economics of sex and love – that’s just the greatest love story of all time.”

3:29: Marina recites some unique bridal wedding vows with an economic bent. Basically, you, my new husband, aren’t the best looking person I know, and I’ll meet more enticing sexual partners, but I won’t cheat and when working on financial plans I’ll work on the assumption we’ll be together forever. Ouch.

“Access to the Internet has gone a long way to solving the problem created by the fact that we don’t have money by bringing people together…It’s actually encouraging people to raise their expectations.”

They also meet now in social network sites, games sites, and commenting on blogs.

3:24: The sex/love market has no money, but if you find it a thin market “you always have the option of lowering your expectations of what you’re looking for.”

Yep, that explains those five lonely years of high school.

So, the sex and love market is a barter economy. And, “barter economies are horribly inefficient.”

“On the market for sex and love, we’re all buyers and we’re all sellers.”

She notes the common theory seems to say that women are sellers of sex and men are buyers because men like sex more so women need to be compensated to encourage them to join in.

“It seems like if you’re a woman of practically any age, you’re a seller in a buyers market and people are constantly telling you to lower your price.”

Certainly beats jumping in to discussions of the GDP.

3:17: As a teacher, she wanted to find a better way of teaching economic theory to students to get them to become engaged in the subject. So, she started the first university course on economics, sex and love. The term began with how sexual services are priced.

Reading The Happy Hooker was an awakening for Marina as a teen.

Up first is “The Relationship Economist” Marina Adshade.

“All those here who are idealists in romance — leave now. This session will expose you to brutal facts.” — Moses introducing the next set of speakers.

3:05: The audience is seated and we’re almost ready to start the afternoon sessions.

1:35: We’re breaking for lunch, and Jeremy will finish the portrait while we’re out. We’ll be back here on the live blog at 3pm. how are you enjoying day three? Let us know in the comment section below, on Twitter at @Zoomer and @ideacityNews (#ideacity), on Facebook, or tweet me at @MikeCrisolago.

You can use any non-reflective object and the tablet reads it the same as it reads a finger — anything from a brush to chalk to even chopsticks.

Now, Jeremy has Moses on stage and is painting his portrait again while explaining how the process and technology works.

1:22: Jeremy dances to Rick performing “Hound Dog.” The crowd is clapping along. Jeremy’s motions created some really interesting designs on the screen.

Even better, you can use multiple fingers at a time. It looks like he’s conducting a multi-coloured orchestra.

1:18: He’s using the next generation of the tablet he used 18 years ago, propped up on a wood easel. He has a 3D painting zone, and instead of a brush he “paints” with his finger in the air in front of the tablet. “It’s like learning a musical instrument.”

Jeremy notes that 18 years ago he painted a digital portrait of Moses. Jeremy now showing a video of himself creating a live, digital painting of Cirque Du Soleil performers. The images look like beautiful, vibrant watercolours.

1:13: Moses introduces our next “improvised” guest, Jeremy Sutton, “The Digital Painter,” who Moses met during the inaugural Ideacity.

Rick ends to raucous applause with Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” He tells Moses that Boom will be in Calgary, Quebec City, some U.S. locations, and should be in Toronto by 2014-2015.

He also tackles Pierre Eliot Trudeau.

1:05: Funny distillation of the perception of who won the presidential debate between JFK and Nixon with Rick overdubbing the voices of both on the original broadcast with impressions.

…Also a fun Buddy Holly and Chubby Checker.

12:59: Rick now giving us a live performance of excerpts from BOOM. Lots of impressions and humour. Rick does a great Churchill.

“I think how we remember and what we remember tells us…who we are now and where we’re going.” — Rick Miller.

BOOM premieres January, 2014, in Calgary.

12:54: Actor Rick Miller takes the stage to talk about a new project he’s working on called BOOM — “An explosive one-man stage documentary chronicling the post-war Baby Boom years…a thoroughly modern take on historical events” — covering the years 1945-1969.

We should all hope to be as insightful, charming, intelligent, and driven at some point in our lives, let alone being so at age 15. An amazing person — can’t wait to see where he’ll be in another 15 years.

12:50: Jack gets a standing ovation to conclude his speech. He also notes he just received an award from U.S. President Barack Obama. He tells Libby that it could take 10 years before the test clears all bureaucratic hurdles and makes it to market. He also notes he’ll only publish in open-source journals to hopefully set an example.

He also notes that “scientific journals have commoditized scientific knowledge…We need to unlock these paywalls. This is not acceptable.” The public funds this research and the institutions package it and sell it back to us. It stifles the flow of scientific knowledge and is “extremely detrimental to the entire field.” The crowd applauds in agreement.

Jack says most of the world “lacks the basic tools to innovate,” such as the Internet, which is one of the biggest problems.

The test costs three cents, takes five minutes to use, has so far shown 100 per cent accuracy, and can detect the cancer in its earliest stage. By tweaking the test Jack says you could eventually detect everything from HIV to heart disease

“How many PhD’s can we fit in a room?” Jack quips, remembering meeting the professor’s students.

He calls the professors who rejected him “buttheads.” Is that a scientific term?

12:40: He sent 200 professors, including at John Hopkins University, his research plan, asking to be able to use their lab. “Then reality took hold. I got 199 rejections.” One professor sent him a positive email in return.

He applied science to creating a paper-detector for cancer. “It’s about as easy as making chocolate chip cookies,” he says of the test.

After painstaking research, Jack discovered a protein in the blood that acts as a cancer bio-marker when someone has pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer, including in the early stages. He says he experienced his epiphany in high school biology class.

Jack was inspired by the death of a loved one from pancreatic cancer. He notes the tests for pancreatic cancer haven’t been updated for 60 years, and aren’t always great at detecting it.

12:34: Libby notes we need a routine test that can detect pancreatic cancer while it’s still curable. This brings us to the introduction of Jack Andraka, a 16-year-old who developed quick and affordable tests for detecting various types of cancers. 

At the conclusion of the video, Moses introduces his sister Libby Znaimer, who is discussing pancreatic cancer and her own experience battling the deadly disease.

12:20: We’re taking a moment to remember Dr. Henry Morgentaler, watching a video of him at a previous Ideacity.

12:15: We’re back! Moses is on stage and tossing Zoomer beavers and t-shirts to the crowd.

11:15: Francis wraps, and we’re taking quick break. We’ll be back at noon with the next set of speakers.

“Turn the waste of the past into a self-sufficient, sustainable home…That, to me, is the true meaning of technology.”

Some of these have been built in Africa, and in Quebec, and “everywhere” according to Francis. Could be part of the solution to global housing problem.

11:10: The photos of these houses that are already built look intriguing – kind of like how a 21st century, urbanized Tarzan may live. Very bright and involved with nature.

The house basically runs on physics. Pretty interesting. Water harvesting replaces traditional plumbing. It harvests water from the rain and is pulled into the house and through a filter. The water that you use, say, in a shower, drains into the greenhouse to water the plants, and is also filtered back into the washroom for toilet water, etc. It can be recycled about four times, so you don’t run out.

11:04: These houses need no heating and cooling. They way they’re build, using all natural materials and built into the Earth, the houses stays on average at 19-21 degrees Celsius all year round.

Old glass bottles are used as colourful little portholes.

Keep in mind, when you can see Francis’ slides illustrating all of this it’s a bit easier to comprehend.

One example: they uses tires to build walls. Yes, tires. They’re evidently cheap and much better than concrete.

10:59: These houses, “Earthships” can be built anywhere and are independent of power sources. Houses need to be oriented properly to interact with natural phenomenon (sun, wind, rain). This includes a mound of earth on one side, an attached greenhouse, planters for water harvesting, etc.  The house also uses garbage and turns it into building material.

Sustainable buildings that are resilient need simplicity (accessibility for all), independence (if the building itself produces food and shelter for the residents, the economy could collapse and the people would survive), and to be environmentally friendly to thrive and work.

10:53: The final guest of the first session is “The Earthship Eco-techt” Francis Gendron, whose interest, Moses notes, “is sustainability.”

Great job by Michael and the crowd applauds.

10:49: “We need to build high-tech schools out of high-tech materials. And I think wood is the answer.” — Michael Green. The images of examples of this architecture are beautiful.

10:47: Harvesting of the wood from forests can be done responsibly with respect to forest ecology to indigenous people’s rights if the right rules are put in place.

10:45: They’re now building the world’s tallest wood building in Northern B.C. — 30 storeys. It’s a start, he notes.

The world will be 70 per cent urban in 25 years. “It means we have to re-invent the materials we build our cities with.”

The other big reason for this is the fact that a billion people in our world need homes. If we were to meet the demand with concrete and steel, we’d have a real environmental problem.

10:35: He notes this way of building is more environmentally friendly — almost half of our greenhouse gasses come from the building industry. Making concrete also leaves a massive carbon footprint. Michael proposes we need to use less concrete and steel in building. Wood, meanwhile, actually absorbs carbon and holds it for life.

Michael’s team makes individual building panels out of wood that are 64-feet long and 8-feet wide. So we’re not talking flimsy matchstick buildings here. The “jumbo building blocks” make for speedier building and are cost effective.

10:32: The architecture firm that built many of the world’s tallest buildings recently proposed a 42-storey building, which made him excited. He notes architecture is a very slow-moving industry.

10:30: In North America, law says you can only build up to four-storeys out of wood. Seems strange, Michael says, when we have massive trees. He’s pitching a 30-storey building out of wood. This was five years ago and created lots of controversy.

He notes that wood is like a snowflake — no two pieces are the same.

Michael’s idea begins with photosynthesis, which helps provide life of everything on Earth.

10:27: Up next is , “The Timber-techt” Michael Green, who Moses notes “proposes to build tall buildings out of wood.”

This idea, deservedly, is getting a lot of attention worldwide.

Did we mention this would be build in the city’s historic Zócalo Plaza?

“Green lobbies” at intervals would bring green  space below the surface, and the whole structure lights up in the evening.

Natural light comes through a glass void built through the middle of the structure. The building, stretching 300-metres underground, would contain retail, offices, a museum (for historic artifacts they may find when digging) , and housing.

10:15: His company’s major project is the desire to re-densify the centre of Mexico City to stop uncontrolled expansion. But how, when it’s full of historic buildings you can’t touch and no plots to build new buildings? Well, instead of building up, you build down. Instead of a skyscraper, you create an Earthscraper.

10:12: They also built an innovative dog house that curls, inspired by the fact that dogs chase after their own tails.

10:10: Estaban shows a gorgeous image of a glass chapel they built in a garden to let nature intertwine within the building. Twice a year, the sun sets exactly behind where the cross on the altar is built.

The team is made up of architects, designers, and urbanists.

The company creates unique cartoons representing how they feel they’re fighting from their bunker against conventionality.

“We think architecture is a serious business…that doesn’t mean we need to take ourselves so seriously.”

10:05: Moses introduces a surprise guest Estaban Suarez, owner of the architecture company called BNKR.

More than 30,000 people can live in one building. Moses notes the buildings would house, essentially, small towns. By next March, the first of these buildings will be built in China.

Natural gas, bio-gas, solar energy, and recycled waste provide the energy. Not electricity.

A massive skyscraper, much higher than 30 stories, can be built in seven months (four months for manufacturing the materials, and three months for assembly on site).

9:58: Juliet shows a video of a vision of “Sky City.”

The cost of building is 50 per cent lower than conventional construction practices.

9:55: The buildings also contain organic farms.

The buildings recycle waste to create energy.

Wow, maybe the OMB should be watching this.

The manufacturing is 90 per cent factory made and assembled on site. Juliet likens it to building with Legos.

9:49: These sustainable building provide “100 per cent fresh air, all of the time.” She shows stats that more than 60 per cent of human diseases are related to air quality. These buildings chop that down to size. Also, they are also energy efficient, and they cut omissions by a huge margin.

Joking aside, this is pretty amazing. The buildings are hotels, and they are resistant to a magnitude 9.0 earthquake. Very impressive.

9:47: Moses introduces “The Speedy Skyscraper Builder” Juliet Jiang, who shows a video illustrating her idea for a 30 story building that is assembled in 15 days. Oh boy. You think Toronto has a lot of condos sprouting up now….

Let’s just say our homes don’t like Walter imagined. Still, he was on the right track about news/information aggregation devices, smaller phones, and video capabilities. It’s just that the devices were about 50 times larger than they actually are today.

9:40: A video of Walter Cronkite exploring a projected “the 21st century home.”

Moses takes the stage to thank those who helped make all facets of the Ideacity conference a possibility.

9:38: Crowd loves him as he leaves the stage.

Victor now performing to a piece by one of his favourite poets, Saul Williams.

9:30: “Every creation that I make is a different experiment.” He uses yoga, martial arts, ballet, other forms of dance and other aesthetics, “strip them of their disparities,” and explores what’s left.

He created his own dance troupe because he craved the ability to express his own artistic vision. “In my attempt to make meaningful work, there’s always honesty.”

Victor calls himself a product of the hip-hop generation, where he went from the street to various dance studios, to New York with Twyla Tharp, to Montreal. He believes his unique path was/is destiny.

9:27: Starting off the day we have “The RUBBERBAND Man” Victor Quijada, artistic director/choreographer of Montreal-based, internationally-recognized dance troupe RUBBERBAND.

Also, in case you missed it, here’s a video of my interview with the amazing Gabor Forgacs, who I spoke to yesterday about the leather he creates from the cells of cows. It’s real leather, doesn’t contain the blemishes of industrial leather, and, best of all, no animal has to die for us to look oh so cool in our jackets and shoes. Check it out!

8:47: We’re almost ready to kick off Ideacity day 3! As always, don’t forget to voice your opinions and ideas in the comment section below, on Twitter at @Zoomer and @ideacityNews (#ideacity), on Facebook, or tweet me at @MikeCrisolago.