Month: May 2018

Surfing the hype curve

I’ve spent most of my career on the uncomfortable edge of technology. This meant that I was often the one who got to deal with gear that was being pushed into production just a little bit too early, just a little bit too fast, and just a little bit too aggressively for everything to go smoothly.

This has left me more than a little bit jaded on marketing hype.

Not too long ago I posted a snarky rejoinder on a LinkedIn thread. I said that I had a startup using something called “on-chain AI,” and that we were going to “disrupt the nutraceutical industry.”

I got direct messages from serious sounding people asking if there was still time to get in early on funding me.

Not long after that, a local tech group put out a call for lightning talk abstracts. I went out on a limb and submitted this:

Quantum AI Machine Learning Blockchains on the IoT Cloud Data Ocean: Turning Hype Into Reality

It's easy to get distracted and confused by the hype that surrounds new computing and data storage technologies. This talk will offer working definitions and brutally practical assessments of the maturity of all of the buzzwords in the title.

Somewhat to my horror, they accepted it.

Here are the slides. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Bio-IT World

We’re back around to one of my favorite events of the Boston biotech year, The Bio-IT World Expo.

This conference has been host to a bunch of critical conversations for me. My favorite example happened in 2004. That was the year that the founders of BioTeam and I stepped away from the sessions and the exhibit floor, sat on benches in the stairwells of the Heinz convention center, and worked out the details of how I would become their very first employee.

I don’t think that any of us could have predicted that, 14 years later, we would be hosting a two hour panel in the main auditorium to close out and wrap up the conference. Last year’s version was tremendous fun. I’m super excited to get to moderate it again.

We’ve made a few adjustments this year to make the session even more interactive and fast moving. At the same time, we’re keeping the throwable microphone, dynamic and emerging topic list, and the online question submission / topic tracking system.

The panelists brainstormed up an incredible list of topics:

  • Team culture, keeping it healthy
  • Engineering for nation-state scale projects
  • Identity management in federated environments
  • The changing face of the end-user scientific computing environment, specifically notebook style analysis environments
  • Rapid prototyping of data-driven products
  • Diversity – how, specifically do we intend to empower and amplify emerging voices in our community?
  • What does it take to “validate” a process that was born on a research HPC environment?
  • The maturation of cloud-native, serverless architectures and its uncomfortable collision with current information security and governance processes
  • Data lakes, warehouses, marts, ecosystems, commons, biospheres, bases, gravity, movement, and so on and on
  • Notes from the field as machine learning and AI settle in as mature and productive tools in the kit
  • Emerging technologies like blockchain and how to separate the hype from the reality
  • … and many more …

If you have questions, topics, opinions, or suggestions – please write me or any of the panelists a note.

I’m looking forward to seeing many of you there.


Over the past year, I’ve had the privilege to serve as the chair of a working group (computing) for the GP-Write project. I’m spending today at GP-Write’s annual meeting in Boston.

GP-Write is a highly international, rapidly evolving collaboration with a goal of rapidly advancing the technology and ethical / legal framework necessary for forward engineering of complex genomes. I’m particularly proud of the fact that the very first working group to present is, “Ethical, Legal, Social Implications.” It’s nice, for once, to see the question of what we should do discussed prior to all the excitement about what we can do.

My (brief) slides are below.