2014 AANS Annual Report - page 8

Opening Ceremonies Program Showcases Digital Technology, World Hunger
“Brain surgery has replaced rocket science as an expression of the almost-miraculous and the impossibly
difficult for humans to do, thus conveying an almost god-like stature to those who do it,” stated Sir Bob
Geldof, musician, activist and founder of the Live Aid concerts, in his speech during AANS’ second annual
Opening Ceremonies program, which took place the evening of Sunday, April 6.
Geldof, well-known for his anti-poverty efforts in Africa, discussed how he became so impassioned about
conquering hunger and poverty and how his career in rock-and-roll led him there. “Of the ten fastest
growing economies in the world, seven are African,” Geldof said, commenting on the current state of
Africa’s economic progress; stressing the burgeoning continent’s dire need of assistance in developing their
technology and social infrastructure.
After decades of charity work, the next step in his journey
to combat poverty, Geldof noted, is to close the gap
between humanitarianism and government, in order
to promote and develop the necessary infrastructural
changes. “If you want change, then you must engage
with the agents of change, who in our society are the
elected leaders,” stated Geldof, going on to describe
his policy, research and lobbying efforts in Washington,
D.C., London, Berlin, Paris, Brussels and Africa. “Along
with the miracles that seem to be occurring in your
business and in other areas,” Geldof added, referring to
neurosurgery, “Africa will be one of the economic centers
of the 21st century.”
Keeping in step with the theme of technology development, Jaron Lanier, musician, computer scientist and
virtual-reality pioneer also spoke at the Opening Ceremonies program on Sunday, April 6. Discussing the
role of the emerging interaction between digital technology and economics, Lanier described how the two
have transformed the practice of medicine and how future improvement is needed.
“Computation has become the arbiter of wealth and power,” stated Lanier, describing how the world’s
wealth is no longer dominated by those in the oil or shipping industries, as it was a few decades ago; rather,
the world’s wealthiest now are those who own or control some kind of digital network, whether it be a mobile
phone network, social network, etc.
Lanier then went on to describe how computation affects the field of medicine and the future of our society
in relation to giant-scale computing, big data and its potential to shrink various markets through disruption.
Lanier cited a useful example of how the technology behind automatic language translation via the Internet
has almost entirely replaced language translation as a profession.
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