Each year, our annual summit covers our predictions for the top 10 rising trends in the upcoming year.
Our team at Hemi Ventures has been fortunate to partner with world class technology leaders to identify these trends in the forward thinking areas of neuromorphic computing, nanotechnology, explainable AI, next-gen sequencing, and other advanced solutions. Being aware of how the future technologies will shape our industry, humanity, and the greater good is only one part of having this foresight. The second part is nurturing and empowering the companies to progress the technology to mainstream acceptance.
Our sommelier has curated a variety of wines to pair with the technologies. From brain-computing interaction paired with Sauvignon Blanc, urban mobility with Chardonnay, to genomics with Zinfandel, everyone enjoyed the wine and food as well as the corresponding rising technologies.
The first session explored the future interaction of the human brain and computers. Mark Stefik, a research scientist from PARC research shared his insights on the latest developments in explainable AI. His talk, “From XAI to Mechagogy,” explains when AIs provide good explanations, users will understand when to trust them. His latest research shows breakthroughs in building AI common ground, layering common sense, and scaling to open-ended worlds and human concerns.
The second talk was given by Professor Wei Lu from the University of Michigan. His latest research focuses on brain-inspired computing. As Moore’s law is slowing and we encounter the von Neumann bottleneck, he questions what we can learn from the most efficient computer to date — the brain. His answers are parallelized computing and co-locating memory with logic. Prof. Lu explores a future where AI and human intelligence co-exist by directly integrating artificial neural networks with biological neural networks, for brain disease treatment, memory/function augmentation, and prosthesis.
Prof. John Rogers from Northwestern University is one of the most prolific scientists of our time, the author of 650 papers, and inventor of over 100 patents. He shared his insights on his latest discovery for treating cognitive decline in an aging population. Social interaction is one of the few interventions that can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s dementia. His ‘epidermal’ electronics couldbecome the first “loneliness meter” in the world.
The second session took a deep dive into tomorrow’s urban mobility. Today, there are over 500 megacities worldwide. Some megacities boast more than 20 million inhabitants. Daily urban trips worldwide are predicted to rise from 7.5 billion in 2005 to 11.5 billion in 2025. Our over-reliance on the private car is leading to congestion, poor air quality, and a lack of urban space. So what might the urban mobility of tomorrow look like?
Paul Kim, the CEO of Smart Radar System (SRS), is leading a digital democracy in image radar and the transformation of the analog radar world into a digital revolution. We all know the bottleneck of self-driving cars — human level perception. Unlike lidars and cameras, radar maintains functionality across all weather and lighting conditions. However, the technology has traditionally been limited by low resolution. Until now, that is. SRS is developing radar with one-degree near-lidar resolution: a 4D image radar with ultra-high-resolution functionalities to sense the environment in four dimensions: distance, horizontal and vertical positioning, and velocity.
Cities around the world are experiencing rapid urbanization, which is leading to greater demand for changes in public transit. Half of the world’s population uses just two percent of the earth’s surface. These roughly 4.2 billion people consume 70 percent of the world’s energy needs. Pascal van Hentenryck is a Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech and founder of Ritmo Mobility. His current research studies on-demand multi-modal transit systems. His socially-aware on-demand mobility projects are running in Ann Arbor and Atlanta, and have the potential to transform the future of public transport.
The second century of aviation offers the building blocks for another air transportation revolution. Soon passengers and goods will routinely fly aboard a new breed of cleaner, smarter air vehicles. But when will this actually happen? As a recognized expert in the fields of next-generation electric and autonomous aircraft, Marc Ausman, helps us explore what to look for in all the hype surrounding Urban Air Mobility.
Our third session focused on the revolution that’s happening in genomics and precision health. Jen Dionne, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University, became a member of the Stanford faculty at 28, and was listed on Oprah’s “50 things that will make you say ‘Wow!’” She shared with the audience her latest research in using new optical materials and microscopies to detect early disease and drug sensitivity testing. She postulates that light will be the next “handy” reagent in pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.
Daniel Cohen, an associate partner at McKinsey, shared with us the promise of digital therapeutics. In the early stage of development, digital therapeutics is a nascent modality with many definitions. His research explores the many improvement opportunities for digital modalities across the healthcare continuum, and how digital therapeutics VC funding is concentrated in diabetes and mental health.
Professor Anshul Kundaje’s lab specializes in large-scale computational regulatory genomics to improve detection and interpretation of natural and disease-associated genetic variations. His talk discussed the biochemical markers of cell-type specific functional elements, and how to apply deep learning models to interpret frameworks for genomics. By deploying interpreting models to decode the language of the genome, such technology can predict and explain disease-associated genetic variants and mutations. Thus, the future of personalized medicine is influenced by the future of AI.
Dr. David Collier has been pioneering a new business model for the development of promising drug candidates. He shared how deep neural network AI is accelerating the discovery of new pharmaceuticals. The pain point of picking a new drug out of a vast universe of possible molecules has halted the progress of drug discovery. He proposed that AI will shrink the drug discovery process from years to months, and possibly even days, as physical screening will be replaced by in silico screening. Soon, AI will be able to successfully predict small molecules binding to protein targets and the drug discovery process will be dramatically shortened and transformed.
We are grateful for the insights shared by our speakers and experts from top academic researchers at Stanford, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, Georgia Tech, PARC, the executive leadership at McKinsey and Airbus, and the most innovative startups including some of our portfolio companies. These early trend signals will impact and influence the general public in the coming years. Hemi Ventures’ perspective on these rising technologies will be to continue to foster mentorship and provide support to the world-class entrepreneurs who have the responsibility to positively transform the ecosystem.