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DYK that around the world, four billion people don’t have an address? Without one, it can be difficult to access medical care, digital services, and disaster relief, as well as the ability to vote and get a driver’s license. To tackle this global issue, Facebook and the MIT Media Lab have teamed up to create a solution that uses AI to analyze satellite images, an approach that has so far created addresses for 80% of the affected areas. Boston is also working on breaking down barriers to civic participation: Proponents of the BostonOneCard municipal ID argue that several hundred thousand residents would take advantage of the program — especially homeless, transgender, and undocumented individuals — who could use it to obtain civil services, open bank accounts, and access other opportunities.



Last summer, Harvard researchers made news with their plan to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into gasoline. More recently, some of the same scientists have made a new proposal to slow the warming of our planet: solar geoengineering. In an attempt to mimic the cooling effects of volcanic eruptions, the plan involves releasing calcium carbonate — the same substance you might find in an antacid — into the stratosphere to examine whether it deflects some of the sun’s rays. Another futuristic plan to “sunblock the stratosphere” is also underway at Harvard, this time involving spraying a sulfate aerosol into the atmosphere from a yet-to-be-created aircraft. Back on earth, Boston is trying to protect the environment as well, instituting a plastic bag ban that will take effect next week.



 A new report released this week as part of the Boston Creates cultural plan investigates the accessibility of performance and rehearsal spaces in Boston, and uncovered a “misalignment” between the supply of facilities and the high price tags that too often take them out of reach for most artists. Proposed solutions include working with developers to include spaces that serve the artistic community and repurposing existing, underutilized venues. In the visual arts, a variety of organizations are providing opportunities for artists: the Edward M. Kennedy Institute currently has an open call for art, and Emmanuel College is looking for a new artist in residence for 2019. 



Last week, Forbes released its Top 50 Women in Tech list, which featured female leaders in fields from cybersecurity to aerospace to education. We’re especially proud of the Boston-area nominees, including Affectiva’s Rana el Kaliouby and the MIT’s Joy Buolamwini, who are doing groundbreaking work on humanizing robots and fighting algorithmic bias, respectively. Importantly, women in science and tech are also paving the way for their female colleagues, bringing the #MeToo movement into the lab. MIT recently awarded neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin, scientist-consultant Sherry Marts, and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke the Disobedience Award for their “ethical, nonviolent acts of disobedience in service of society” that have helped expose and fight sexual harassment and discrimination.



Massachusetts doctors are increasingly going the startup route, choosing to become entrepreneurs after medical school rather than going into practice. They’ve founded companies that are working to fight obesity, deliver drugs with silk fibers, and more, all with the goal of improving the health of more people than they could, as one doctor said, “with my two hands in 24 hours.” Boston’s biotech companies are innovating in all areas of the health space, including “taking on aging” and using genomic testing to personalize cancer treatments. Thinking of founding your own startup but not sure how to protect your intellectual property? Recent college grads (and a few friendly pandas) have got you covered: Patent Pandas uses simple language and animations to explain one of the most complicated legal topics in a way that everyone can understand.


Practical Online Virtual Reality in Higher Education

Thursday, December 6, 7:00PM—10:30PM, Brookline Interactive Group

46 Tappan Street, 3rd floor, Brookline, MA 02445



ICA Harbor Market

Saturday, December 8, 11:00AM—4:00PM, ICA Boston

25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, MA 02210



Women Who Lead: How Workplaces Can Support and Advance Women of Color

Monday, December 10, 4:00PM—6:00PM , HubSpot

2 Canal Park, Cambridge, MA 02141



1 Million Cups Boston December: Treat Yourself!

Wednesday, December 12, 8:30AM — 10:00AM, BUild Lab

730 Commonwealth Avenue, Brookline, MA 02446


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Mirza CifricLINE-8

CEO, Veritas Genetics

Mirza Cifric is co-founder and CEO of Veritas Genetics, the first company to introduce whole genome sequencing and interpretation to consumers and their physicians for under $1,000. He leads Veritas with the mission of driving global accessibility to genomic information as the company builds the first, large-scale service capable of sequencing and interpreting hundreds of thousands, and eventually millions, of human genomes each year. The company operates globally from its offices in the U.S., Europe and China and has been recognized twice by MIT Technology Review as one of the 50 Smartest Companies in 2016 and 2017. 

Q: Where do you see the fields of genomics and genetic testing headed in the next five years? The next 25? What excites you most about the future of these areas?

A: I believe that in the next five years, genome sequencing will be $99 and everyone who wants to have access to the data will have it starting at birth. Next 25 years? I would answer by saying that we are entering the era of exponential growth in computing, biology, and artificial intelligence. I am comfortable making one prediction: Things that took 25 years to happen last century will be happening in one or two years 25 years from now. It will be the most exciting time in our history, until its replaced with even more exciting times. And oh yes, we better become interplanetary species by then, just in case.

Read the full interview with this week's Change Maker Mirza Cifric


Veritas Genetics CEO Mirza Cifric at HUBweek 2017 showing us the sheer size of the genomic data made available to us with sequencing technologies like his, and why artificial intelligence is the only way to make sense of it all.