Video and Audio
Select video and audio from Spotlight Health and the Aspen Ideas Festival. All video and audio is from 2017.
High drug prices have seized headlines, angered patient advocates, and prompted congressional hearings. Many causes have been suggested — among them, a fragmented pharmaceutical market that limits competition, the quest for profits (whether to fund expensive R&D or otherwise), and government regulations that bar Medicare from negotiating prices. Harder to find are solutions for patients who cannot afford their therapies.
Artificial intelligence has rapidly and deeply permeated our lives; and for much of the public, these infiltrations were unexpected — some even remain unrecognized. As we develop machines driven by human-created algorithms, it is imperative for us to examine how our moral and ethical biases and assumptions inform our creations, which will in turn change the world. Can and should we approach a consensus on what ethics to instill in AI?
Together, organizational behavior professor Matthew Feinberg and sociologist Robb Willer have extensively studied why liberals and conservatives so rarely succeed at persuading each other — and how to overcome these challenges. They find that people tend to make arguments that appeal to the ethical code of their own side, rather than the values of those they are trying to persuade. This, they say, is because people tend to view their own moral values as universal.
The Aspen Challenge presents three high school teams from Philadelphia and one team from Chicago who developed brilliant solutions to issues they see plaguing their communities. See these young change-makers take to the stage to prove that effective community solutions can be created at any age.
From election meddling and economic espionage to financial fraud and personal identity theft, it’s becoming clear that cybersecurity is increasingly central to every aspect of the way we live. Both state-sponsored cyber-spies and transnational organized crime groups pose urgent threats online to our nation’s critical infrastructure, our security, and our fundamental values in a democratic society.
Rachel Dolezal is a white woman who has identified as African American. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has identified as Native American. Both women have expressed feelings of solidarity for demographic groups that some would argue they ought not claim as their own. What’s wrong with claiming to belong to a historically subordinated population group? This spring, Rebecca Tuvel published an essay, “In Defense of Transracialism,” in the respected academic philosophy journal, Hypatia.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation giving birth to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1937, he brought a decade of political wrangling to a close and created the world's foremost cancer research and training infrastructure. Eighty years later, with an annual budget of some $5 billion, NCI remains at the forefront of investigations into cancer biology and clinical trials that sustain cancer patients around the globe.
Scientists at the cutting-edge of neurobiology are studying the rhythms of electrical activity within the brain and learning more about how malfunctioning neural circuitry links to mental illness. Kafui Dzirasa, one of the pioneers in the field, is trying to build a “pacemaker for the brain,” drawing on new technologies to stimulate neurons, alter electrical patterns, and change the communications pathways that underlie complex social behavior.
The impacts of cybercrime and the proliferation of cyberattacks are unsettling at best and very dangerous at worst. Not only are we experiencing increases in nefarious activity for personal gain, we are seeing threats against nation-states, the likes of which society has not experienced before. Is it time for the world’s governments to implement international rules to protect citizens’ use of the internet?
Can a transformative solution built on the conservative principles of free markets and limited government save the planet? Now that the United States is backing out of the Paris climate accord, many believe that any significant reduction to greenhouse gas emissions must be led by the business community. Can such a business-led effort to promote carbon dividends — carbon taxes whose revenues are rebated to citizens — pave the way for a much-needed bipartisan climate breakthrough?
By every measure — including life expectancy, infant mortality, and rates of heart disease and cancer — people of color fare worse than white people, even after controlling for education and income. Social policies that foster segregation, discriminatory employment and housing practices, and inequities in the criminal justice system can all have dire health consequences.
Technology used to be a lot more accessible, open, and ethical. It was driven by optimistic tinkerers rather than big companies. That changed. The entire industry and ecosystem is now ruled by a handful of companies rather than upstarts. American tech giants are now among the most powerful institutions in the world, rivaling governments in their power over media, culture, and politics.
As climate change increasingly becomes a fact of daily life, the health hazards of rising sea levels, catastrophic storms, water and food shortages, respiratory and vector-borne diseases, and temperature extremes are coming into sharper focus.
“When we [Americans] talk about the rule of law, we assume that we’re talking about a law that promotes freedom, that promotes justice, that promotes equality,” US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said in 2007. The rule of law is fundamental to our democracy. Critical challenges loom, however, as our citizens today disagree sharply over some of our nation’s most vexing issues, ranging from national security to our economic future to the very functioning of our political process.
It has become almost impossible to have a reasoned conversation about reproductive rights. From birth control to abortion, this minefield is strewn with political passion, convictions of faith, and seemingly irreconcilable moral choices. Women’s health writ large is in jeopardy as a result. What do women want and need? How do we engage in reasoned dialogue in search of common ground?
As the United States leaves the Paris Agreement, how will the leadership vacuum be filled? Will China continue to surge ahead, tackling air pollution and investing in renewable energy? Will India soon abandon its commitments, favoring coal development over clean air? If choices that individual countries make in regard to their energy mix have planet-wide consequences, does abandoning Paris signal the end of the US-led international order?
In the innovation process, ideation is the creation of a great idea. But that’s not enough. Scaling is required to create value for great ideas, and this stage requires skills the entrepreneur often does not natively possess. Braddock Scholars is a response to this need. This Aspen Institute program chooses promising business ventures, profit or not-for-profit, from the widespread Aspen innovative family, and couples them with a handpicked mentor, who works with the business for a year.
It’s been called one of the worst self-inflicted political wounds of modern times. British Prime Minister Theresa May, seeking to solidify her mandate for a hard exit from the European Union, called for snap elections on June 8th, which ended up dealing the Tories a massive political blow and producing a hung parliament.
Can companies determined to support solutions to some of society’s larger dilemmas make the kinds of returns that Wall Street — which judges bottom-line performance above all — happy? Yes. Take a cue from Capricorn Investment Group, born from a belief that values-based, sustainable investment practices can enhance return rates.
Many of the people doing today’s most consequential environmental work — restoring America’s grasslands, wildlife, soil, rivers, wetlands, and oceans — would not call themselves environmentalists; they would be too uneasy with the connotations of that word. What drives them is their deep love of the land — they feel a moral responsibility to preserve their heritage and ensure that their families and communities will continue to thrive.