Blouin Leadership Summit

Sep 24, 2012, 5:35 PM EDT


Middle East – Syria, Iran and Regional Dynamics Post Arab-Spring

Since the Arab-Spring in late 2010 that saw the collapse of the political orders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, the balance of power within the region has been irrevocably changed. This change not only resulted from an absence of leadership, but from the emboldenment of Iran as a growing power in the region as well. With the twin ambition to develop a capacity for nuclear arms production and to act as the source of spiritual leadership for the Shia community, Iran has grown more influential on the governments of Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories and Egypt. As a result of this increase in reach, both Saudi Arabia and Israel have been placed on the defensive, each fearing the incitement of conflict. This has led to two policy outcomes by each country. In the case of Saudi Arabia $66 billion in military supplies have been purchased from the United States, primarily in the form of missile shields and other defensive measures, to safeguard the Gulf region. In the case of Israel, an active policy discussion has been advanced that proposes to attack Iran in order to curb its nuclear ambitions. Within this complex set of relations that has far-reaching impact on world affairs, this panel will ask: (a.) how can regional stability be achieved, both in respect to the cessation of civil conflict and the establishment of ‘normal’ diplomatic relations in a post Arab-Spring context; secondly, (b.) what is the likelihood of further armed conflict within the Middle East and what are the best strategies to avert another conflict?   



- Asymmetric threats

- The future of insults to Islam

- Post-Arab Spring



Global Business Strategies


While the current U.S. Presidential contest contrasts national job creation against the perils of so-called ‘outsourcing,’ it is a plain fact that once a business is created, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, it immediately enters a global marketplace. This marketplace is defined not only by access to new markets and audiences, but by a competition for human capital in the form of skilled workers, access to capital and expertise, as well as the challenge of protecting intellectual property and working effectively across multiple jurisdictions. This panel will, then, ask: (a.) what are the realities of global business at various scales, and second, (b.) what strategies can be put in place to engender new growth opportunities?

- A warning on protectionism



Cyber Security - National Priorities, Personal Concerns


Cyber security, warfare and crime have become key priorities for government, business and the individual. On the one hand, Western governments have become increasingly concerned about security vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks issued by competing nations - for instance, in 2011 the network of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was completely exposed for 6 months to the Chinese Army. On the other hand, nations such as the United States and Israel have been on the forefront of the development of cyber-weapons, such as in the case of Stuxnet, designed to impede the further development of Iran’s nuclear capability. However, as nations and their respective security agencies develop defensive and strategic cyber capabilities, business and the individual have also found themselves exerting positive principles of cyber awareness; namely, the right to privacy, as well as the opportunity to develop alternate distributed cyber security infrastructures. How can the complex, yet increasingly important issue of cyber security governance be addressed? How far should nations be allowed, even if in a covert manner, to develop strategic cyber weapons if there is recognition that these very weapons can be used in a retaliatory fashion? How can individual rights be protected if national cyber security defenses are developed – for instance, does the U.S. Cyber Intelligence and Protections Act passed in 2012 provide adequate privacy protections? What alternate methods can be developed to provide cyber security?

- Cyber Security: Be Part of the Conversation

- Transparency as the middle ground for cyber security

- Governing the internet: considerations and quandaries



Innovation Economies – Technology and the Creation of New Organizations

Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, co-founders of PayPal, have recently argued that the pace of innovation within Silicon Valley is “between dire straits and dead.” They argue that current forms of digital innovation are only solving small problems, instead of setting their sights on larger transformational issues impacting humanity. However, with 44 technology IPOs in 2011 and 30 to date in 2012, investors have shown a belief that innovation is, in fact, not dead. If innovation is indeed alive, and there is sufficient capital able to facilitate the development of new projects, proposals and companies, what else then must be done to enable transformational breakthroughs? What innovations are coming from our greater understanding of social networks, hard science developments, or new communication platforms? Importantly, how can corporations and organizations change their culture in order to become more innovative and respond to a rapidly changing social, technological and economic landscape?

- Research: the true driver of innovation, and what entrepreneurs need to tap

- The individual versus technology: enhancing human communications and innovation

- The need to harness technology to advance science in the age of ‘personal health’



Encode: Advances in Bio-Engineering

Since the mapping of the human genome in 2003, great anticipation was created both in the minds of the public, as well as within the medical community in respect to the creation of new treatments for disease – if not the eradication of disease altogether – based upon the newfound knowledge of the ‘blueprint’ of life. Although this anticipation has not yet been fulfilled, a number of research endeavors inside and outside of academia have begun to yield results: namely, those research projects connected to the treatment of disease and, surprisingly, within the context of the development of alternative fuels, fibers and plastics. For instance, in August 2012, Nature published findings by deCODE Genetics of Iceland that provides insight into the genetic underpinnings of autism and schizophrenia, resulting from a genetic mutation linked to the age of the father. Furthermore, in respect to heavy industry, chemical companies, such as DuPont, have come to rely on “naturally occurring sugars from crops” to underpin the industrial chemicals used in the creation of fabrics, carpet and other such products. With these examples in mind, this panel will ask: (a.) has synthetic biology finally found a footing as a mature science that can yield the dramatic discoveries promised to alter humanity? and (b.) if so, what are those new discoveries and how far away are we from cures to our most pressing health needs?

- Interdisciplinary Science rules at the Blouin Leadership Summit

- Science, medicine and the future of humanity

- Global Health