Warren Hatch on Seeing the Future in the Era of COVID-19 – #50

Steve and Corey talk to Warren Hatch, President and CEO of Good Judgment Inc. Warren explains what makes someone a good forecaster and how the ability to integrate and assess information allows cognitively diverse teams to outperform prediction markets. The hosts express skepticism about whether the incentives at work in large organizations would encourage the adoption of approaches that might lead to better forecasts. Warren describes the increasing depth of human-computer collaboration in forecasting. Steve poses the long-standing problem of assessing alpha in finance and Warren suggests that the emerging alpha-brier metric, linking process and outcome, might shed light on the issue. The episode ends with Warren describing Good Judgment’s open invitation to self-identified experts to join a new COVID forecasting platform.

Michael Kauffman on Cancer, Drug Development and Market Capitalism – #48

Steve and Corey speak with Dr. Michael Kauffman, co-founder and CEO of Karyopharm Therapeutics, about cancer and biotech innovation. Michael explains how he and Dr. Sharon Schacham tested her idea regarding nuclear-transport using simulation software on a home laptop, and went on to beat 1000:1 odds to create a billion dollar company. They discuss the relationship between high proprietary drug costs and economic incentives for drug discovery. They also discuss the unique US biotech ecosystem, and why innovation is easier in small (vs. large) companies. Michael explains how Karyopharm is targeting its drug at COVID-induced inflammation to treat people with severe forms of the disease.

COVID-19, Blockchain, and the Global Startup Scene – #39

Steve and Corey talk to Kieren James-Lubin and Victor Wong of the blockchain technology startup, BlockApps. They begin with a discussion of the COVID-19 epidemic (~25m): lockdown, predictions of ICU overload, and helicopter money. Will personal contact tracking become the new normal? Transitioning to blockchain, a technology many view as viable even in times of widespread societal disruption, they give a basic explanation of the underlying cryptographic and consensus algorithms. Kieren and Victor explain how BlockApps was founded, its business model, and history as a startup. They conclude with a comparison of startup ecosystems in China, Silicon Valley, and NYC.

Yang Wang on Science and Technology in China, Hong Kong Protests, and Coronavirus – #34

Yang Wang is Dean of Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Professor Wang received his BS degree in mathematics from University of Science and Technology of China in 1983, and his PhD degree from Harvard University in 1990 under the supervision of Fields medalist David Mumford. He served as Chair of the Mathematics department at Michigan State University before joining HKUST.