Sometimes the chocolate and peanut butter come together to make the most delectable treat in the world, and that’s what I think we’ve achieved for this year’s epic fireside chat on opening night at SynBioBeta. You may think it will be hard to beat last year’s fireside chat with George Church and Vinod Khosla, and you might be right — but I think this year’s fireside chat will give last year’s some tough competition by adding Steve Wozniak to the mix.
Yes, Steve Wozniak — the father of the homebrew computer club and co-founder of Apple — will be live on stage with one of the synthetic biology industry founders, Harvard and MIT professor George Church. This epic clash of titans will be moderated by none other than the co-founder of BioCurious and researcher at the Institute for the Future, Eri Gentry. This session will provide the rare opportunity to learn from two world-class entrepreneurs who have successfully created industries that have changed our world.
We all know inventor, tech entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Steve Wozniak for co-founding tech giant Apple, Inc., and for the seminal contributions he has made to the company throughout the years. But he has been active outside of Apple: in the 80s founded a universal remote company, which produced the world’s first universal remote. Unsurprisingly, he has been awarded 10 honorary degrees from different U.S. institutions and has been inducted into notable halls of fame, like the National Inventors Hall of Fame. As a philanthropist, Wozniak’s kind heart shows through best, with a considerable amount of his money going toward the next generations of tech leaders: K-12 students. Not only did he sponsor the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, but he also financially covered the entire technology program at his local school district in Los Gatos, CA.
If you’ve heard of the efforts to bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction, then you know George Church. He is a CRISPR pioneer (which has led to the woolly mammoth efforts) and founding investigator of the Human Genome Project and Personal Genome Project. Church was also among a group of scientists who proposed the $100 million BRAIN Initiative that President Obama launched in 2014. Church has an unquenchable entrepreneurial spirit and has founded over a dozen companies and is named on over 40 patents. Church is always pushing the edges of synthetic biology a little further; one of his most recent endeavors is the somewhat controversial GP-Write project, which aims to create genomes (including human genomes) entirely from scratch. It can be hard to keep up with George Church, but you can check out a website maintained by his lab to stay on top of his latest projects.
In the spirit of pushing electrons vs. pushing carbon, Wozniak and Church will share their wisdom with us as they explore — from the tech angle and from the biotech angle — several high interest topics:
Tech vs. Biotech. The tech and biotech industries, while on opposite ends of the spectrum, have changed the world as we know it in equally significant ways. Church and Wozniak will compare and contrast the two industries, focusing on Moore’s law, first robotics, iGEM, electrons vs. carbon, and more.
DIY Bio and the Homebrew Computer Club. How are DIY biohackers similar to members of the homebrew computer club? How does each community make meaningful contributions to their respective sector? Church and Wozniak will expound on the do-it-yourself communities that are thriving both in biology and the tech world, and the importance of these communities in the growth of each industry.
The benefit of hindsight. Church and Wozniak have successfully boarded the rocketship that all entrepreneurs hope to ride one day — building a new industry that completely changes the world. But their journeys weren’t easy. Each will share what the gift of hindsight has taught them, and what they would have done differently on their way to success — and how you can benefit right now from what took them years to learn.
Lady luck. In a unique opportunity to hear candid stories from the two industry leaders, Church and Wozniak will delve into the role that luck had — if any — in their careers. They’ll share parallel stories, showing the audience that the path to industry giant isn’t so different after all, even in disparate sectors.
Stretch goals. We are probably all wondering what two of the most successful men in the history of the planet have to think about how their respective industries can be stretched in the future. During the fireside chat, Church and Wozniak will share their visions for their own industries — and for each other’s.
Both Church and Wozniak will also be available during a one-hour meet-and-greet session, where you can ask even more questions from these industry greats. Please check out the event website for more details on this event, and mark your calendars now for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.