Learnings from Milken

Sometimes referred to as the “Davos of the West,” each year the Milken Global Conference brings together the world’s leading financiers, politicians, economists, and philanthropists to “effect real change and tackle the world’s greatest challenges.” 

The 2018 Conference theme “Navigating a World in Transition” truly came to life as discussions around #MeToo and #TimesUp took center stage alongside discussions about the future of medicine, AI, and, of course, the markets. The caliber of speakers didn’t disappoint – from household names like Ashley Judd, Tom Brady, and Jane Goodall to some of the biggest names in finance, like Mary Callahan Erdoes, Michael Corbat, Scott Minerd, and David Solomon. 

There are a handful of topics we heard discussed at Milken that we’re very interested in and will continue learning more about as we believe these are advances – whether social or technological – that will truly change lives.

#MeToo #TimesUp – It’s Just the Beginning

What’s Next: “Harnessing the Momentum of #MeToo and #TimesUp” was an impactful panel moderated by Alex Witt, Anchor, MSNC and Correspondent, NBC News; Ashley Judd, Actress, Humanitarian and Global Goodwill Ambassador for UNFPA; Catharine MacKinnon, James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard Law School; Kerry Kennedy, President, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights; Stacy Smith, Founder and Director, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, University of Southern California; and Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Actress and Activist, Times Up X WOC. While much of the panel discussion centered on the progress we still need to make in the workplace and society to protect people from sexual harassment and hold those responsible accountable, the panel provided two examples of organizations that are ahead of the curve on these issues:

  • The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW): Originally organized in 1993 to better the farm community and lives of the agriculture workers, CIW is an internationally recognized organization that has led the way in preventing sexual harassment and assault in the Florida agriculture industry, specifically Florida tomato growers, through the Fair Food Program, which requires companies like McDonald’s and Trader Joe’s to meet farmworkers’ demands for workplaces free from violence, coercion, slavery, and sexual assault.
  • Callisto: Founded by Jess Ladd in 2015, Callisto supports 149,000 college students across 13 college campuses and allows survivors of sexual assault to create secure, time-stamped records of their assault. This year, the Callisto platform is expanding to detect repeat perpetrators across different sectors and guide victims through the reporting process, their options, and will even provide them the choice to connect with other victims of the same perpetrator.

The Future of Medicine Can Be Predicted

At this year’s conference, attendees became data sources in a three-year research project led by Weill Cornell Medicine and funded by WorldQuant. The microbial data gathered at Milken by swabbing people’s phones will be used to inform health officials of possible pandemics, aid in the creation of new drugs, and address the overuse of antibiotics. A key focus of this study is to predict where antibiotic resistance is moving through the first global map that tracks hot spots of antibiotic resistance. Utilizing predictive medicine in this way should save millions of lives.

Milken hosted many panels on the development and future use of AI this year. The general tone from the executives of technology organizations building AI solutions was optimistic about the potential benefits of AI while the tone of the audience was slightly more concerned about the potential downsides, which include massive job loss, potential rogue AI, and viruses. Featured panelists discussed many uses for AI, including transforming the field of medicine by reducing the amount of time it takes to discover new drugs and revamping the fashion and retail industries through the creation of an “AI personal stylist,” an idea Amazon and Walmart have invested in.

Our Takeaway

Being onsite at Milken, there was an obvious feeling of optimism in the air. Even as panelists discussed difficult and controversial issues, the tone of many was that even if things aren’t the way we want them now, people are collectively striving to make the world better. We are enlightened and encouraged by the conversations from Milken and hope you are as well.