Pushing the Limit
Monte Jade West Science and Technology Association
29th Annual Conference
- by Ping Hsieh
At the Monte Jade West Science and Technology Association (MJW)’s 29th Annual Conference, the spirit of “Pushing the Limit” was channeled by Keynote speaker Brian Wang, a futurist and blogger at NextBigFuture.com, which has over one million active subscribers. Wang regularly covers a wide range of bleeding edge science and technology topics and got a chance to share his knowledge of modern innovations during “The Future of You” Keynote. His talk took on a problem-solution format that presented challenges we face today followed by answers based on modern tech and scientific advancements.
Wang began by introducing the audience to the possibility of activating brown fat within our bodies as an alternative to traditional dieting and slimming methods. Rather than simply storing calories like white fat, brown fat burns energy to produce heat and is usually activated when we are cold. Wang then tackled the age-old challenge of inevitable old age. As Wang put it, “aging just sucks.” He compared human lifespan to a lottery and went on to parallel gene editing to a lottery in which everyone wins. Wang provided Rejuvenate Bio as an example of a company presently making strides towards transposing their dog anti-aging research to a human platform. When it came to cancer, wearable cancer detection and AI detection were Wang’s solutions, as early detection is key for successful treatment. He shared that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AI can predict breast cancer to 99 percent accuracy.
The Keynote went on to tackle the food problem with both policy and technology. Wang insisted that the challenges we face when it comes to feeding people aren’t necessarily rooted in not having enough food, but in effective distribution of food. With a quarter of our food going to waste, Wang proposed that we could save 500 million pounds of food per year just by following in France’s footsteps in implementing policies that require supermarkets to give away or significantly discount food items that are soon bound for the waste bin. Moreover, Wang envisions that supercrops can triple food production, robotic greenhouses currently being used in the Netherlands can increase crop yield by 30 times, and advancements in growing meat in labs--birthing the viral Impossible Burger--is a path towards feeding a growing population that should be pursued.
When it came to climate change, Wang’s solution turned back towards using nature to fight growing levels of greenhouse gasses, namely using trees and kelp to process carbon dioxide. Current technology can allow two people to plant 400 thousand trees per day with the help of drones--at a rate of two trees a second. This can scale up to total ten billion trees being planted per year. Turning the audience’s attention towards the oceans, which act as carbon sinks and thus are becoming increasingly toxic for life due to the formation of carbonic acid, Wang proposed using submarine drones to plant kelp, which grows at incredible rates and efficiently draws carbon out of the water--and will greatly spur the growth of fish populations too.
Wang moved the conversation onto the next generation of transportation and the rise of self-driving car, which will greatly alleviate congestion on the roads. With every new Tesla automobile equipped with the hardware necessary for Full Self-Driving, it will just take some refining of the software to make this a reality. Commercially, self driving trucks will cut shipping time and costs by eliminating the human plight of needing rest--a nonissue for our robotic counterparts. Wang suggested that as automobiles continue to become increasingly autonomous, they will metamorphosize from the current form of a driver-oriented automobile to resemble a room in a home.
Then, Wang turned his attention towards space and its soon-to-be transformation from final frontier to tourist destination. With ongoing tests and dozens of successful launches and landings from multi-flight-proven reusable SpaceX rockets, Wang’s research leads him to believe that a journey to space may soon cost just five to ten thousand dollars after scaling. Apart from tourism, innovations in space will further connect the world, as SpaceX’s Starlink project is currently in the process of launching a 12,000 satellite constellation in order to provide high-speed global internet. Wang also touched on the possibility of rocket travel to anywhere in the world with a measly one hour travel time.
“So people become closer and the world will become merged entirely,” Wang said. “So that’s a future with 150 year lives, cancer is history, we have a lot of food, a lot of trees, a lot of fish, a lot of vegetable burgers, no traffic and a fast moving world where we can go anywhere in an hour. And I’ll be that happy guy with a six pack.”
The Annual Conference was held on May 19, 2019 at the Residence Inn by Marriott San Jose Cupertino in Cupertino, CA. With an overarching theme of “Pushing the Limit,” the Conference’s Afternoon Program presented a myriad of panelists and guest speakers. Topics covered included Trade Tension in the modern business climate, current and moonshot Space Ventures, as well as contemporary research on bringing humanity closer to Living Forever. The Afternoon Program was followed by an Evening Event at Alexander’s Steakhouse to celebrate MJW’s sponsors, key board members and core VIPs.
The Conference was kicked off with opening remarks by 2019 MJW Chairman David Jeng, who provided an overview of the history of the Association and thanked the many volunteers in attendance. volunteers and reflected on the events that the organization hosted in the past year. He highlighted that MJW held over 20 events in the last year, which celebrated both technology and the successes of leaders in Silicon Valley. Jeng also took time to recognize MJW’s volunteer-driven Mentorship Program--now in its 15th year--which marries Asian executives with up-and-coming mentees over the course of 8 months and focuses on overcoming the hardships that East Asians tend to face in the modern Western corporate environment.
“Our annual conference is targeted to focus on ideas that are leading in the future--that are pushing the envelope,” Jeng said. “We’re not here to just talk about the cool, awesome things that are happening right now. We want to make sure our community knows what’s going to happen in the next 5, 10, 15 years.”
After Wang’s Keynote, the “Changing Landscapes and Implications in Global Trade” panel then discussed the present-day climate of international enterprise. With harsh tariffs and quotas being tossed between countries, the panel provided insight into how recent trade policies impact not only impact global economies in a macro sense, but particularly Silicon Valley companies in targeted industries like manufacturing and technology. The panel was moderated by Wen-Fang Liu, Managing Director of Global Transfer Pricing at Deloitte Tax LLP; and featured Lucas Chang, SVP and General Counsel at United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC); Daniel Koh, VP of Global Procurement at Flex; and Angelica Tsakiridis, Senior Manager of the Global Trade Advisory at Deloitte.
Cynthia Shen of Morgan Stanley and Dr. Guoliang Yu, CEO of Apollomics, then hosted a session titled “Extending Life: Best Practices for Personal Longevity.” They offered insight into scientifically proven methods for extending life.
Then, panel moderator and Founder of Boom Capital, Celestine Schnugg, urged conference goers to look towards space as an entrepreneurial platform during “A Tour Through the Space Economy at Every Orbit.” The panel hosted Mike Safyan, VP of Launch at Planet; Jane Poynter, Co-founder and Strategic Advisor at World View Enterprises; William Miller, Principal of SpaceCap Investments; and Chris C. Kemp, Founder of a stealth space company and Former CTO of NASA.
As the Afternoon Program came to a close, Alexander’s Steakhouse opened its doors for MJW’s sponsors, board members and VIPs. The guests mingled throughout the space or took advantage of the open seating areas after visiting the charcuterie bar or grabbing a goblet of wine. Throughout the night, wait staff served a selection of hors d'oeuvres including soy-glazed pork belly with spicy mustard, fried Kuruma shrimp with sriracha aioli, coconut watermelon gazpacho, spicy tuna on crispy rice and truffle shiitake gougeres. A silent auction of art by HRH Princess Kamariah and Gloria Tang also took place through the night.
After the guests got settled in, emcees Maggie Li and Nana Tseng stepped up on the stage to welcome everyone and introduce Jeng to the stage. Jeng expressed his gratitude for MJW’s sponsors, namely UMC and Deloitte: “without your support we would not be here today… It is so important that these sponsors do what they do so that we can do what we do.” Jeng then invited Event Chair Tze Yeoh Tai to the stage, insisting that because of Tze, “to be honest, I do very little work. I come here and I look pretty and I wave, and that’s what I do. So thank you Tze for your support.”
Tze reflected on her introduction to MJW and her appreciation for the organization and its members. “It was exactly 20 years ago on this day, May 19, 1999 that I was first introduced to Monte Jade in Taiwan,” Tze shared. “Over the past two decades, I have marveled at the unwavering commitment and dedication that the Monte Jade founders, chairs and ex-chairs, board members and volunteers devote to annually organize an event so that the Monte Jade community can come together and learn, engage, contribute and celebrate.”
When it came time to present the annually bestowed Lifetime Achievement Award, Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office in San Francisco (TECO)’s Science and Technology Division Director Tom Yeh and Secretary Yamei Chang Kao presented a thorough run through of recipient Dr. Jen-Chang Chou’s fruitful career and accomplishments.
“In my life, this is the most detailed introduction I have ever had, thank you so much,” Dr. Chou joked as he took to the stage. “After 17 years of retirement, this is really a surprise to me--to receive this award. It means that you remembered and recognized our times together. My time with the science division of TECO and at the same time working with Monte Jade was the most important time in my life. Working together with all the people with who I gained so many lifelong friends really left fun and cherished memories. With the growth of Monte Jade, I really consider that the most important spirit that Monte Jade shares is serving others without any sense of ego. I think I speak to that in the presence of so many people who have served Monte Jade, which keeps Monte Jade sustainable. Thank you so much.”