Nexus of Artist Innovation + Health + Exponential Technology

Posted by Josh Miller, Theo Edmonds, Dec 03, 2015 0 comments

Crowd-sourced genomic data, 3D printed hearts, robotic surgeries, dramatic shifts in medical education and population health–the future of how we think about, define and create health is exponentially changing–which is why we are pioneering new roles for artists in this ever-changing industry and societal landscape.

At Singularity University’s Exponential Medicine conference, co-founder Peter Diamandis said, “You are the CEO of your own health.” But, when there is systemic racism in clinical trials, inequality in access to care, and discrepancies between how medical practitioners define health and how different communities do, new approaches must come forth which empower both people and systems to fully realize a culture of health.

Peter Diamandis

This is where artists can become a catalyzing force for making new options visible for an industry in transition and for the communities it serves.

IDEAS xLab has created a framework for artists to become catalytic agents of change, outcomes-driven innovation consultants, within corporations like Humana and GE, nonprofits like YouthBuild Louisville, and even within the Metro Louisville government. Artists have an amazing ability to synthesize seemingly disparate resources, reframe challenges and expand possibilities. 

That is what we are doing with a new, multi-year initiative called the Cultural Blueprint for Health–an evidence-based portfolio of artist-led strategies to measurably improve community health outcomes.

As artists become agents of change in the emergent disruption of the healthcare industry, we believe that technology will play an increasingly democratizing role.

Our team was honored and excited to be invited to attend Exponential Medicine, our second Singularity University conference this year with the first being Exponential Finance.

Singularity University’s mission is to “educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.” 

“At our core, we are really about social impact,” said Singularity University’s Executive Director of Conferences Will Weisman as Exponential Medicine kicked off on November 9, 2015 in San Diego. “We are about making the world a better, healthier and more equitable place.” 

First, let’s talk about exponential technologies.

Think about the iPhone. Before it, we had a multitude of separate devices including a calculator, a camera, GPS system, TV, computer, telephone, flashlight, calendar, etc. But advancements dematerialized all of these devices into one, democratizing the technology and making it accessible to billions of people.

During Exponential Medicine, hundreds of physicians, practitioners and leaders at the forefront of healthcare, medicine and technological innovation gathered for a 4-day deep dive into everything impacting our understanding of health and how it is created.

As Dr. Daniel Kraft, Founder of Exponential Medicine and Chair of Medicine for Singularity University said, “The future of health and medicine isn’t about any one field, it’s the convergence and overlap, and appreciating how fast they [exponentials] are moving (faster, cheaper, better, smaller) and how we can leverage those to address big challenges in healthcare.”

During a panel on omics and biotech, Dr. Esteban Burchard of UCSF posed the question, “Is precision medicine really precise?” He described how a majority of clinical trials are conducted on people of European descent. How a leading asthma medication is more likely to kill African Americans. How many people of Asian and Hawaiian descent can’t metabolize the blood thinning medications they are being prescribed.

There is a problem in how we conduct trials and disseminate information. This type of inequality is one that must change as we seek to create a culture of health on a national and international scale.

“We have to empower people from the bottom up,” said Jamie Metzl of ORIG3N Inc. “People need to be empowered through technology … empowered to create their own future.”

To help share the information and expand the conversation outside of the conference, IDEAS xLab facilitated the online conversation #CultureMedic, tweeting out information and questions to an international group of artists with the help of Residency Unlimited to see how artists envisioned incorporating exponential concepts into their work.

Just a few participating artists included Australian born Kristin McIver, Creative Capital artist Andy Kropa, Brooklyn-based Man Bartlett and David Helbich in Brussels.

From McIver’s The Selfie Project, which explores the complexity of online identity and surveillance through Facial Recognition Data generated via social media networks to Kropa’s Hacking Alzheimer’s Project which more closely connects those with Alzheimer’s to family members, caregivers, healthcare professionals and research scientists -- artists are already leveraging exponential tools to reconceive pathways to health.

“I love the idea that art and science both search for new concepts of health - physical and mental,” said Helbich. “What is a healthy body, head and person? What does it mean to take care of these bodies? This research, both the artistic as the scientific, is most successful by being discursive.”

Consider how pairing an artist-innovator with a genomic research team could change perception, understanding and participation in crowd-sourced clinical research. How might an artist help clinical care delivery teams reframe challenges around continuum of care. Or, even how artists might help communities catalyze changes in health behaviors to interrupt generational narratives of poor health due to diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

These cross-disciplinary teams are what IDEAS xLab is assembling as we seek to tap into the talents of more than 2 million BFA/MFA degreed artists in the United States, using our framework to change the WORK of art and to build a creative, healthy, and equitable workforce. 

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