Support Senator Warren’s request to audit of President Trump’s finances — here’s how

You can support Senator Warren’s request to audit President Trump’s finances for conflicts of interest. Here’s how.

Write this email

Subject line: Audit for Trump’s financial concerns

Dear Ms. Siggerud and Mr. Minnelli,
I’m writing in support of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s request for an audit of our incoming President Trump’s finances, to prohibit conflicts of interest that would prevent him from carrying out the responsibilities of the office without corrupt influence.

Send to these people
cc: (this address is tracking people who are urging the audit)

Share this information with your friends and remember to call your congressman (202-225-3121) often.

Thanks to my friend Karen for sharing this information with me.

My u.lab learning journey at Boston’s Hubweek

I am currently taking the edX course “u.lab: Leading from the Emerging Future.” One of the choices for the week 2 assignment was to take a learning or sensing journey, which is defined like this:

Sensing journeys pull participants out of their daily routine and allow them to experience the organization, challenge, or system through the lens of different stakeholders. Sensing journeys bring participants to places, people, and experiences that are most relevant for the respective question they are working on.

IMG_0649I chose to make Boston’s Hubweek my u.lab learning journey. Hubweek is, “A weeklong celebration of innovation and creativity in Greater Boston, founded by MIT, Harvard, Mass General and The Boston Globe.” This blog post is a slightly edited version of the journal entry I wrote to complete the assignment. I went to dinner this past Friday with friends and one was so genuinely interested in my Hubweek experience that I decided to publish it here for her and others to read.

There is no question in my mind that Entrepreneurship is on the rise and people are looking to engage with emerging technologies in new ways. In my view, a subtle shift has also taken place: the libertarian / Ayn Rand vibe, where the focus of every start-up was “getting rich,” has transformed into discussions of inclusion, community, sustainability and impact. Although everyone may not appreciate the accelerating nature of technological development (artificial intelligence, genetics, robotics and others are called “exponential technologies”), there was surely an awareness that the ground is shifting under our feet and the only solution is to adapt together.

Monday began in Roxbury, which is one of the most economically challenged sections of Boston. Nevertheless, the event was hosted in a new “innovation center” where teams of high school students were showing off their innovations and talking about their plans to start a business. One young man was such a good salesman that I bought his product: a simple rubber holder for an eyeglass wipe that can attach to a belt or key chain. I keep it in my car now. A young woman had studied the use of sunlight to fight depression in the winter and was showing off a window valence for a bedroom with a built-in full spectrum light (patent pending). I learned about BUILD, which is, “dedicated to proving the power of experiential learning through entrepreneurship, and igniting the potential of youth in under-resourced communities.” I talked to the people at the booth, and was struck by a couple of facts: 1) 97% of kids who graduate from Build’s 4-year program graduate from HS on time, and 2) 95% are accepted to college. This is impressive considering that all these kids remain in public school, significant since the charter school question is on the Massachusetts ballot this November. I also ran into NuVu Studio, which is an educational program based on the studio model. This school sounds interesting and MIT News answered a question on my mind:

Such programs are difficult to implement broadly, Arida (NuVu Studio founder & MIT alumnus) admits, and private institutions tend to favor them, rather than public schools. But this fall, NuVu is entering its first public-school partnership, with Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, which will send 10 students for the entire semester — and those 10 students will earn credit. It’s a step in the right direction, Arida says.

Starting on Tuesday, I was joined by my friend, Chitra Dwarka, which made attending the events even more fun. We began at “Expanding Opportunity in the Digital Age,” hosted by Hubweek, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (MIT_IDE) and MIT Solve. Leading the discussion were Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mcafee, authors of The Second Machine Age (a book I reviewed in detail back in 2014). Given that MIT_IDE is a sponsor of the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium (Chitra and I are both on the organizing team), and the background reading that I’ve done, I felt more or less at home with the topics and messages in this session. What struck me most was the parallel goals between this session and the one in Roxbury, yet the very different vibe, academic reasoning vs. in the trenches transformation. For example, “inclusion” was a topic at both events (and a topic that came up later in the week); MIT_IDE sponsored an Inclusive Innovation Competition to, “inspire and reward entrepreneurial solutions that enhance the economic prospects of workers in the Second Machine Age.” The Boston Globe reported on the winners. Some of the organizations represented at this talk were The Joyce Foundation, which strives to “develop and advance policy reforms that promise to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and strive for a fair society,” and Opportunity@Work, which is “dedicated to re-wiring the labor market so that all Americans can work, learn, and earn to their full potential.”

One track that I did not make was MIT Solve, which is described as, “an organism for solving the world’s most challenging problems.” Looking at the website, the mission and tracks remind me of Singularity University (I attended the summit in San Francisco this past August). Although I did not make any events during HubWeek, I signed up for the newsletter and will keep my eye out for future events.

On Tuesday afternoon, I went to the Broad Institute, “a collaborative community pioneering a new model of biomedical science.” They hosted a talk about the intersection of art and science and they have an artist in residence, Naoe Suzuki, who engages with the scientists. I was really impressed with how Naoe looked at science through the lens of an artist, for example, transforming whiteboard scribbles (equations and diagrams) into an artistic collage. She is also crowdsourcing her investigation into our relationship with water, and you can participate here. I’ll highlight a few other points from this discussion. Naoe’s perspective of exponential technologies is the compression of time, although it is an emerging thought for her. All the speakers noted that the processes of innovation are not that different between art and science. Finally, one person said that, as scientific data became more freely available on the web, the term “data parasites” emerged to describe researchers who leveraged this data to make new discoveries. Get your own data, said some. But, that position has been rebuffed as the larger community has asserted that freely available data sparks discovery.

Next, I went down the street to the Venture Cafe to hear a talk on, “Driving Startup Growth: Building an Innovation Ecosystem.” I’m familiar with this group as they hold a networking night every Thursday (very valuable, but fast paced, so you need to go with a clear objective in mind). The importance of ecosystems, as well as ESOs (entrepreneurial support organizations), were discussed at length. One of the speakers was Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, who is a researcher on the topic of inclusive organizations (and will be releasing a report by the end of the year). One of the interesting things that she said was that start-ups need to think about diversity prior to hiring employee #9. After that, the mold is set and hard to undo. Opening the lens a bit, other threats to the innovation ecosystem discussed were inequality, climate change, culture. Tim Rowe, CEO of Cambridge Innovation Center, said that, by far, the most net new jobs in the US are created by startups (see the pic here).

On Wednesday, I joined Chitra for a single late event, the Benton Throwdown, which features student teams, representing 10+ local colleges and universities, that have created start-ups. Audience members hear 3-minute pitches from each and then vote using monopoly money. Winners are announced at the end. The evening began with a bit of sage advice from venture capitalists — think of getting money as a sales process (don’t cold e-mail investors), they see proposals every day (don’t ask them to sign an NDA) and be sure to tell them what the future holds and why you believe in it. The winner of the contest was “Ask Molly” (MA College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences), which is a database of illicit substances and describes interactions with prescription drugs. The second place team was “DropZone” (Babson College), which is a search engine for Vets to ensure that they get all the benefits they deserve. The third place team was “Echo Me” (Boston College), which is an in-sync music service (you can subscribe to the music someone else is listening to). Other projects were also notable, but I won’t go through them all.

By Thursday I was getting tired, and almost decided to stay home, but pulled on my energy reserves to go to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to hear “The Hype and Promise of Blockchain.” On my way, I got a message from Chitra, who decided to go with her friend Steve, who works in the financial industry. That was lucky because I was late and they saved me a seat in the second row (the room was packed). Tom Ashbrook, from WBUR, led a panel discussion. A key point, predictable in many ways, was that banks like to talk about blockchain, but no one wants to be the first to adopt it: current systems work, so they are not motivated to risk switching. Nobody on stage wanted to stick their neck out and assert that block chain would transform our economy and society. As a counterpoint, watch this TED talk that I posted on my Facebook page almost a month ago. In fairness, the speaker in this talk wrote a book, but still I feel that the panel speakers were erring on the conservative side. Regardless of one’s level optimism, this is an important topic. My prediction is that this technology will not enter the mainstream via Bitcoin, or the banks, but rather will rise somewhere else, where there is less resistance. It is imperative that it does.

Besides the panel, there were a number of very good speakers. Anders Brownworth, who teaches Blockchain at MIT, did an excellent job explaining the fundamentals of blockchain, along with an online demo (try it yourself via this link). Chelsea Barabas, head of social innovation, digital currencies, MIT Media lab, made a lot of good points about how this technology would impact society (similar points are made by Don Tapscott in the TED talk). Her main story, that I liked, was about how the internet as started as a democratic constellation of people publishing their content, became a place where a few big players (Banks, Media, Google, Facebook, etc.) have too much control and may evolve into something very different — a place where people in the future will share power and control. This is of great importance as millions of people come online in coming years. Finally, I want to shine a light on Ariel Ekblaw, a graduate research assistant at the MIT media lab. She is a very impressive young women, working to use blockchain to make it easier to share medical records while ensuring patient privacy (abstract of her paper here). One last call out goes to Nimit Sawhney, CEO of Voatz, which is a blockchain powered mobile voting app. There were other speakers, but these were the best, in my opinion.

Hubweek ended for me at Demo Day at the Hynes Convention Center, which was a gathering of the “highest impact start-ups and companies” in the Boston area. I went to a talk about “Strategies to Accelerate Growth,” which was hosted by the IBM Global Entrepreneur Program. As it turns out, IBM has a blockchain offering for start-ups. I talked with the folks on the panel (and it eventually came out that I’m an ex-IBMer), got on their mailing list, and got a few pointers to educational materials. The core of their educational offerings is on the developerWorks portal (in my case the Architecture Center was of particular interest). The developerWorks portal hosts a variety of online education classes, including one for blockchain. Unlike Microsoft, IBM does not participate in mainstream MOOCs, such as edX and Coursera, which I think is unfortunate as I’ve found Microsoft’s data science curriculum on edX to be outstanding. Nevertheless, the IBM team did tell me of Coursera offering for blockchain, by Princeton University.

In the expo, there were lots of start-ups, and I will highlight a couple. To begin, there was Cambridge Blockchain, offering a blockchain platform. I did not talk to them, but I imagine many start-ups popping up, along with open source solutions. Of specific interest to me was Voatz, which is a blockchain based mobile voting app. The founder of this company spoke at the blockchain event on Thursday, so I was excited to meet him in person. I took an entrepreneurship class some months ago and had to make a list of 10 possible innovations for an assignment. Here’s an excerpt from the note I made to myself, “An app that provides secure and reliable voting from your mobile device; eliminates the need to visit the voting booth. Leverages technology from cyber currency. The benefits are obvious and there is a lot of desire.” Imagine how interesting it was for me to talk to an entrepreneur who had a similar thought, fully developed it, and now has a viable implementation! Nimit added me to his list of beta testers, so I’ll be able to try his app during the November elections. How much fun! Another app in this space is We the People, which attempts to increase voter participation. I’ve already downloaded it to my phone. Add these two start-ups that want to improve democracy to the three that I met at the Singularity University Summit and it becomes clear that change is in the air.

In conclusion, a lot of new voices have been added to my Twitter and Feedly feeds. These are exciting times and I’m glad to part of a movement to reimagine our economy and future. All I can say is that there are a lot of smart and inspiring people out there. 

Cambridge: Internet of Things


View of Boston from the MIT Media Lab

On April 27, 2016, I attended a panel discussion about the Internet of Things at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. The discussion was sponsored by the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the panelists were:


  • Sanjay Sarma, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT
  • Jeff Baer, Founder and CEO, LinkeDrive, Inc.
  • Frank E. Gillett, Vice President, Principal Analyst Serving CIOs, Forrester Research
  • Dip Patel, Co-Founder and CEO, Ecovent

The invitation to the event describes the excitement about the Internet of things this way:

Far faster than we realize, the objects around us are being embedded with sensors and intelligence that let them talk to one another, make decisions, and talk about us. The next tech wave isn’t just an economic battlefield — it’s a revolution likely to touch everyone personally.

Here’s a summary of the discussion. What is IoT? It is not a technology or product (you can’t buy it), and it is not a platform. IoT is a new design language that enables an entirely new way of thinking about the world. This is evident when you observe a child interact with objects such as Amazon’s Echo. Children expect the device to respond intelligently, and also expect the device to have awareness of its surroundings — their brains are wired differently. We need to adapt and find new words for this type of thinking and these types of interactions, otherwise we’ll fall behind. IoT is about applying technology to things, not people. A digitally enabled device is able to answer three questions about itself: 1) What is it? 2) What’s happening? and 3) What action can it take? By building devices with this capability, IoT connects the digital and real world, allowing business to better respond to their customers. Interoperability is not about making all devices talk to each other (it is unlikely that a door lock will need to interoperate with a toaster, but it might with a video camera or other security device ), it is about creating value from meaningful device interactions. Many companies are vying to get into the home. To position themselves for this future market, they are selling cheap devices to get their foot in the door (Apple sells AppleTV for only $100.00).

My recording of the entire session is here:


This was one of a series of events, in different cities, that MIT Sloan has sponsored, and the Twitter feed (#MITIoT) can be found in Storify.



We need a media revolution

Why don’t national media outlets spent less time covering Donald Trump (who is completely unqualified to be President) and more time covering Bernie Sanders (who challenges us to move toward a better society)? As reported on Alternet (and witnessed by anyone watching TV last Tuesday):

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was among the presidential candidates speaking on Tuesday night. But as the Young Turks reported during their coverage of the evening’s primaries, national media outlets refused to show his remarks.

Here is the video, “Bernie Sanders Primary Night Speech on Super Tuesday #3 March 15,2016 Phoenix Arizona [FULL]:”

You may or may not agree with Bernie Sanders, but we should be discussing the issues of our time, not the ridiculous claims of a narcissistic demagogue. To quote David Brooks:

Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

Sensational stories improve ratings, but they also rob voters of knowledge. National media outlets can and should do better. They need to cover all the candidates and focus on the real issues. Enough is enough.


An economy for our shared future

Allan: Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes a very good post about current and future economic challenges. Put aside the debate as to whether this is best characterized as the third or fourth industrial revolution, and instead focus on what we all need to do to cope with these changes and build an inclusive society. Inside this post are many good references, which I would also encourage people to read. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, writes:

We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

For those that read this Blog, you know that I have long been concerned about challenges that will face the workforce between now and 2025. Irving Wladawsky-Berger references a Pew Research Center study, Digital Life in 2025, that predicts the impact of the Internet on humanity by 2025. This is a perfect follow-up, and this study makes expert predictions that can be, “grouped into 15 identifiable theses about our digital future – eight of which we characterize as being hopeful, six as concerned, and another as a kind of neutral, sensible piece of advice that the choices that are made now will shape the future.” The most important conclusion, I think, is #15:

Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’

The issues are extremely complex; nevertheless, the future is ours to build.

Originally posted February 23, 2016
Irving Wladawsky-Berger: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond was the central theme of the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) that took place earlier this year in Davos, Switzerland.  The theme was nicely explained by Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman, in the lead article of a recently published Foreign Affairs Anthology on the subject.

Dr. Schwab positions the Fourth Industrial Revolution within the historical context of three previous industrial revolutions.  The First, – in the last third of the 18th century, – introduced new tools and manufacturing processes based on steam and water power, ushering the transition from hand-made goods to mechanized, machine-based production.  The Second, – a century later, – revolved around steel, railroads, cars, chemicals, petroleum, electricity, the telephone and radio, leading to the age of mass production.  The Third, – starting in the 1960s, – saw the advent of digital technologies, computers, the IT industry, and the automation of process in just about all industries.

“Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century,” he noted.  “It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

Most everyone agrees that there was a major qualitative distinction between the First and Second Industrial Revolutions.  While some believe that the Fourth is merely the evolution of the Third, Schwab argues that they’re qualitatively different for 3 major reasons:

  • Velocity: Compared to the previous three revolutions, “the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.”
  • Scope: Disruptions are taking place in “almost every industry in every country.”
  • Systems impact: “The breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

View Original 1111 more words

Conversations with Bob Livesay

IMG_0445On February 4, 2016, I flew to Corvallis, OR to visit with my 91-year-old father-in-law, Robert Benton Livesay, Jr. Bob lives at Timberhill Place, which is a 10 minute drive from his son Dave, and his wife Maggie. During retirement, Bob and his late wife Louise wrote a substantial number of stories about their lives, which I read ahead of time. At 91, Bob’s physical activities are limited, but his mind remains sharp and he enjoys conversation. As I was visiting Bob, Dave and Maggie for four full days, I decided that Bob and I should do a project together. With his agreement, I recorded a series of conversations where we discuss his life. In this post, I collect his writings and these recordings.


Air Force Plane

Let me begin with my collection of Bob Livesay’s writings:

  • My Father: Bob talks about his father and best friend, Robert Benton Livesay
  • Great Depression: Bob describes the great depression through his eyes, as an eight year old boy
  • My First Car: Bob reflects on his 1936 Chevrolet coupe after learning to drive in 1940
  • Brown outs and black outs, World War II — Beginnings: Bob describes how people in California cope with the break out of World War II, as seen through the eyes of a high school senior
  • My Hidden Talent: Bob talks about being the star of the high school play, “Incognito” in 1942
  • Incognito Playbill: A high school production where Bob Livesay plays the lead, Fred Collins
  • The Import of Pearl Harbor: Bob describes how the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in the summer of 1941, changed his life
  • Learning to Fly: Bob shares his impressions and feelings as an 18-year-old man, who had enlisted in the Army Air Corps on March 1, 1943
  • Joy: Bob reflects on how the birth of two sons, Robert and David, fills him and Louise with joy
  • A Christmas Story: Bob and Louise each tell their story of a difficult pregnancy that ultimately resulted in a special Christmas gift: the birth of a daughter, Luanne
  • The Hat: Bob attempts to adjust to New York City customs while working for Texaco, and buys his first (and only) “top of the line” Stetson hat
  • My Retirement Toy: After retiring from Texaco in 1987, Bob embarks on off-road adventures in a Jeep Cherokee with Louise
  • A Visit Evokes Memories: In August, 2004, Bob and Louise visit the newly dedicated World War II memorial
  • Grandad’s Hair -o- wing Experience: A story written for Devon by Grandad Robert Livesay
  • Smoked Turkey Breast: Bob shares secrets for making smoked turkey breast
  • A Letter from Bob Livesay: June, 2010, Bob writes to Rob and Jo, Dave and Margaret, and Allan and Luanne to express appreciation for a trip to the east coast
  • A Sushi Experience – Up Close and Personal: Bob and Louise learn to make sushi from their friend Vi Omoto

Next, here is a series of the four conversations that we had during my visit.

As an aside, since this is my first attempt at incorporating an audio format into the blog, I uploaded the audio files to two sites, Soundcloud and Mixcloud. I will likely settle on one or the other for future projects, but for these interviews you have a choice. Here are links to the playlists, as well as the individual tracks.

Talking about Bob’s life would be incomplete without including the writings of his wife Louise. They were married two weeks shy of 65 years. Here are Louise’s writings.


Louise Livesay

Talking to Bob and collecting this material was a lot of fun for both of us. Being able to speak from 91 years of experience gives Bob and unique and valuable perspective on the world. He and Louise lived dignified lives that enriched the world through their actions, as well as through their children and grandchildren. As an aside, by compiling all their information here, it will be included in the internet archive, which is a non-profit internet library. Thus, historians, researchers and scholars will have access to this post, and the contents of all the links, for years to come.




Add a seat to your table this Thanksgiving

Almost six months have passed since my last post. I’ve warned readers that my writing schedule would be irregular, and so it is. I could say that I’ve been busy, which is true, but there is more to it. I’ve taken a break not just from blogging, but from social media in general. Maybe, I needed some time to reflect. Nevertheless, I’ve posted on Thanksgiving day the past two years, and I want to continue this emerging tradition.

The first post was a poem written by Rev. Megan Lynes and shared at the Thanksgiving service at First Parish in Bedford on Nov. 24, 2013. I feel a personal connection to Megan because I was a member of the search committee that recommended that she be asked to join our congregation. Her poem captures Thanksgiving’s essence, and is as relevant today as it was two years ago.

The second post was a poem written by Wendell Berry, and read in honor of Ivan Robinson, who died on Aug. 4, 2014. Ivan was my brother-in-law. He survived my sister Joyce, who died in 2006. Ivan and Joyce were proud Atheists who practiced tolerance and hope. As part of their legacy, they left 42 acres of land in a conservation trust. I was the executor of their estate, which is a task that I will complete this year.

I want to again share a message of hope from a personal connection. This year I offer a video featuring Josh Leach, who is the new student minister at First Parish. Josh spoke at the service on Nov. 8, 2015, “Barring the Golden Door” (beginning at time 24:17 on the replay). I recently started my third year on the First Parish Internship Committee, and Josh is the second student that I have worked with. Josh is a young man who, like my own children, has grown up in difficult times. I have witnessed the stressors that are causing rising anxiety levels in this generation. Josh’s words give me hope that our children will overcome the challenges that they will face.

When I listen to a student’s sermon, I am listening for ideas that will give people hope and help them find meaning in their lives. When I visit a traditional Christian church, I know that the minister will achieve this by talking about the idea of God. In my church, where many view God only through a historical lens, the minister must speak to hope and meaning in more creative ways. We experience highly complex issues that cause suffering as part of the human condition. These issues are begging for solutions. The minister is not a scientist, policy analyst, activist or politician. Therefore, I neither expect nor want the minister to articulate comprehensive solutions to problems. What I do expect is that the minister will understand the complexity, acknowledge the difficulty in finding practical solutions, and most importantly shine a light in the direction of hope and justice.

On this Thanksgiving day, I am sharing Josh’s sermon because his wisdom inspires me. He begins with a poem by Warsaw Shire, about the reasons people leave their homes. He then reflects on the struggles of refugees around the world. Listening to him helped me set aside my fears of terrorism, most recently exacerbated by the Paris attacks, and be more understanding of the plight of people in Syria, Central America, and other places besieged with violence. Josh has increased my awareness, and I will strive to view refugees with compassion. Each year we take part in the UUSC Guest at Your Table Program, but this year I will do more. While complete solutions to problems associated to refugees remain elusive, I know the direction to go. I will “welcome others to freedom” and be more free myself.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.