#141 Healthcare Data Revolution: Dr. Joe Habboushe

Wouldn't it be great if consumers could access all their personal medical records quickly and share them with doctors, family members and others they trust?

This could lead to revolutionary changes in patient outcomes with less bureaucracy and fewer medical mistakes and unnecessary tests.

In recent weeks, major announcements by Apple and Google, plus a new healthcare alliance by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase are signs of accelerated change.

No one is better equipped to interpret these changes than physician and entrepreneur, Dr. Joe Habboushe, our expert guest on this episode of "How Do We Fix It?"

Joe is CEO of MD Calc--a leading online medical tool for clinical decisions by physicians-- and a specialist in emergency medicine at NYU Medical Center in New York.

On this show we look at opportunities and hazards in the changing relationship between doctors and parents. We discuss privacy concerns and examine how data, smartphone apps and other innovations could reduce costs and lead to better diagnosis of common illnesses and physical ailments.

#140 The Truth About Self-Driving Cars

It's time to put the brakes on the hype about self-driving cars. Despite industry and media forecasts, it may be more than a decade before many fully autonomous vehicles are on the road. Lawsuits and patent disputes are among the many hurdles that face auto manufacturers and tech firms.

But this doesn't mean that technology is being thrown into reverse gear. Semi-autonomous cars with vehicle assist and other features are much safer than earlier generations of automobiles. Self-driving delivery trucks and vans are no longer a fantasy.

"Fix It" guest Eddie Alterman, Editor-in-Chief of Car and Driver magazine is deeply skeptical about the widely-touted changes proclaimed by major manufacturers. "It's a scary concept anyway you look at it," he tells us. "The autonomous car is a very inelegant, very complex and a very fraught solution to the problem of texting while driving... and of information coming into the car when people should be driving."

For Google, Apple, Microsoft and other big data companies, autonomous cars are a big opportunity. Instead of keeping their eyes on the road, motorists would use their driving time to consume more digital media. 

But Eddie says a mix of self-driving and traditional vehicles on the road would create danger. "People will deal with or accept flawed humans crashing into each other. I don't think people will accept supposedly fail-safe machines crashing into each other."

Solutions 

  • Understand the risks of mixing traditional cars with self-driving vehicles on the same roadway.
  • Promote the use of semi-autonomous background technology to make driving safer. Examples: cruise control, vehicle stability, lane departure warning systems.
  • Adopt autonomous vehicles in "closed" environments such as industrial sites.
  • Encourage car-sharing and other initiatives to reduce commute times.  
  • Resist the temptation to encourage drivers to surrender control of their time behind-the-wheel.

#139 When Will Wall Street Crash? Diana Henriques

The U.S. stock market has soared about 40% since the Trump election. But is it over-valued and ready for a meltdown?

Shortly before the worst one-day crash in history in November 1987, the market had been charging ahead, with a 40% rise that year. The economy was on a roll, just like today.

What would happen if giant investment funds bailed out of stocks at the same time? Would there be another financial crisis, even worse than the events in 2008?

"We are more vulnerable to a radical readjustment," says our guest, New York Times journalist, Diana Henriques, author of the widely praised  "A First Class Catastrophe: The Road to Black Monday, the Worst Day in Wall Street History." She is also the author of “The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust,” a New York Times bestseller

"It is important for us always to remember that markets go up and they go down, says Diana. "What we need to worry about is do they fall apart when they fall."

"Even professional money managers today are alarmed at the fragility of market structures on which they rely."

In this episode, we look at potential solutions, including streamlined financial regulations, guaranteeing that authorities have a 360 degree view of where financial brushfires are erupting, and scrapping the highly fragmented system that we have today. We also take a second look to the findings of the Brady Commission, the post-mortem report after the "catastrophe" in 1987.

Hear more about the financial system and its flaws from our previous guests:  Roger Lowenstein on why we need The Federal Reserve; Rana Foroohar, of The Financial Times, on Wall Street's giant threat to the economy; ABC News Chief Business, Technology and Economics Correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis, on fixing everyday money mistakes.

Web Extra: How can you tell if a mutual fund is a good investment and or well regulated?

#138 50/50 Nation? No! Morris Fiorina

From the recent government shutdown to strict partisan votes on taxes and healthcare, official Washington lurches from one fight to the next, with no end in sight.

But the American public is not as polarized as the pundits say.

While elected Republicans and Democrats appeal to their base, and are more divided than ever, the electorate has not changed dramatically in recent years. According to Pew Research and other pollsters, moderate independents outnumber either liberal Democrats or conservative Republicans.  

Stanford University political scientist Morris Fiorina confronts the widespread assumption that voters are neatly split into rival camps, and argues that neither party can hold a majority for more than a few years. His new book is "Unstable Majorities: Polarization, Party Sorting and Political Stalemate.

We discuss solutions, including open primaries, weekend voting, easier voter registration and independent redistricting-- all designed to encourage citizen involvement in the political system.

#137 The Dangers Of Utopia: Michael Shermer

By overwhelming majorities, human beings have faith in the afterlife. While fewer Americans believe in God, as many as 80% still believe in life after death. Surprisingly, this includes one-in-three agnostics and atheists. According to the Roper Center for Public Opinion the numbers have stayed stable in recent decades.

Does this human refusal to accept that all we have is the here-and-now lead to a dangerous belief in religious fantasies and utopia? Do we chase after myths while ignoring practical steps we could take now to improve life for ourselves and others?

Our guest, Michael Shermer, is the publisher of Skeptic Magazine and the author of the new book "Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia." Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calls him "a beacon of reason in an ocean of irrationality."

Michael walks us through efforts by "techno-optimists" to extend life hundreds of years into the future, from cryonic suspension-- efforts to freeze our brains with all of their neural connects and memories in tact--  to transhumanists, who want to transform us into super-humans.

He is profoundly skeptical of these well-funded efforts, saying that all we have is the present. "Make today count," Michael tells us. "Make every relationship you have count. Make your interactions with community, strangers and society count in just a tiny little bit."

#136 Ending Sexual Harassment: Claire Cain Miller

The fight against sexual harassment was the hot topic in Hollywood at the Golden Globes Awards, with outspoken and inspiring remarks by Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and others. But allegations of bullying or inappropriate behavior by powerful men are still being made almost every day.

 

Despite widespread outrage, little focus has been given to effective measures that can be taken by employers to reduce the number of cases and improve the workplace environment.

Our guest is journalist Claire Cain Miller, who writes about gender, families and the future of work for The Upshot, a New York Times site that covers policy and economics. She tells us what works and explains the challenges ahead in the fight for gender equality and respect. 

A recent survey found that nearly half of women said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment at work at least once in their careers. A 2015 study revealed that only one-quarter to a third of women who experience sexual harassment report it.

Solutions:
Empower bystanders to act, giving everyone the tools to help prevent harassment. Bystander training is still rare in corporate America, but it has been effectively used in the military and on college campuses.  In some cases, direct action may work. One example was Charles Sonder, in the Snackman case, who disrupted a fight on a New York subway train by standing between a couple and loudly eating chips. 

Other examples of how to disrupt harassment: Drop a book, ask the victim to come to a conference room or if they want to get coffee. Talk to the victim to make sure she is OK, You might say: “I noticed that happened. Are you alright with that?”

Encourage civility:  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission designed a program to create a culture of respect for everyone, such as spotlighting contributions by people who are marginalized. The program also offers helpful things to say in situations when you want to act but don’t know what to do.

Claire Cain Miller says frequent workplace training programs can help. Employees and managers should be encouraged to report harassment. Professor Ian Ayres of Yale Law School has written "information escrows"-- creative and safer ways to help harassment victims who may fear that reporting wrongdoing to harm their careers. 

Among other potential solutions: Gender equity with more women in senior executive positions; greater diversity in occupations now dominated by either men or women; generous workplace and family leave policies.

#135 What's Ahead in 2018: Richard and Jim's Forecast

2018 is certain to bring surprises. In this episode, Jim and Richard bravely venture out onto the high diving board of ideas and plunge into the pool of predictions. We also asked listeners and "How Do We Fix It?" guests for their forecasts of the year to come.

Well-known author and skeptic Michael Shermer says "2018 will be the best year in the history of humanity as measured by health, longevity, medicine, technology, science and culture."

Disruptive marketer and communications designer Geoff Colon tells us that "people are tired of how noisy the world has become. So I see more people deleting apps from their phones and spending less time in the Twitter-verse."

Jim and Richard give their predictions on the 2018 mid-term elections and the new tax code (they go out on a limb here). Both forecast troubled days ahead for Facebook, Google and other giant internet firms, as they run into a buzz saw of criticism over their business practices. 

On the international stage, Richard predicts the U.S. will continue its recent retreat from diplomacy and be weaker as a result.  China's strength will grow. Jim says U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will be a shining star in the Republican party.  

What are your predictions? Go to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Tell us what you think, using the hashtag #FixItForecasts. Our Twitter i.d. is @fixitshow. Find us at "How Do We Fix It?" on Facebook and Instagram.

#134 Food & Health: Science vs. Myth: The Science Moms

It's time to shift the narrative about food and health from fear to facts. Popular culture promotes all sorts of anti-scientific myths, from astrology and conspiracy theories to vaccine denial and misinformation about GMOs.

On this episode our guest is "Science Mom" Kavin Senapathy, one of five mothers of young children who decided to collaborate on communication and push back against a conspiratorial mindset around biotechnology. They argue that there's an epidemic of bad science and fear-based marketing largely aimed at parents of young children.

Kavin writes for Forbes and Slate. Other Science Moms are writers and working scientists with PhDs—in biology, genetics, neuroscience. The crowdfunded Science Moms documentary is available for download on the Science Moms website.

On this episode, Jim, Richard and Kavin look at solutions, such as fighting back against hype and anti-science ideas with better education for children and adults. We examine how social media has weaponized debate, including attacks on academics who base their findings on careful research. Too often, science-minded parents are drowned out by shamers and "Celeb Moms" who make bogus claims about food and health.

#133 Facebook and YouTube Threats: Zeynep Tufekci

Billions of people use Facebook and YouTube. But do social media platforms threaten our privacy and our freedom?  The problem goes well beyond hate messages and other forms of inappropriate content, or fake news and "dark posts"— targeted ads not visible to the public.

"The crucial problem here is we have no protections about the data that's collected," says our guest, Professor Zeynep Tufekci. "We have no protections about how that data is used and we have a business model where we are the product and not the customer."

Zeynep is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, "Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest." At the University of North Carolina, she teaches a class: "Big Data, Algorithms and Society."

"They have all our data...They control all the gatekeeping," Zeynep says of Facebook and other internet giants. "The threat that I fear is that we're building the infrastructure for a sort of soft authoritarianism."  

Much of the information these companies have collected on us is "sold to the highest bidders whatever they may be peddling.

The ability of tech firms to spy on us, while nudging and seducing users into different forms of behavior, is constantly changing. "The past five years have been mind-blowing. We are growing a form of machine intelligence," says Zeynep. Unlike the past "this one is learning itself and we don't understanding how it's doing what it's doing." 

"How Do We Fix It?" is a solutions podcast. This episode examines potential remedies, including the need for greater corporate transparency, sunsetting data, government regulation and voluntary actions by Facebook and other big tech firms. Those of us who use social media sites should inform ourselves about how they work. This show is a good place to start.

#132 The Truth About Robots: Peter Cappelli

Once again the alarm bells are ringing. A new study by the McKinsey Global Institutes estimates that within 12 years, up to 800 million of today's workers may be replaced by robots or some other form of automation.

Other recent research reports on the impact of technology are even more disturbing. A survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the professional services company, claims 38% of U.S. jobs are at high risk of being replaced by robots and artificial intelligence over the next 15 years.

But what if many experts are wrong? 

Peter Cappelli, Director for Human Resources at the Wharton School is our guest in this episode. His research is both contrarian and eye-opening. Peter has been named one of the most influential thinkers of the decade by HR Magazine, and is the author of "Why Good People Can't Get Jobs." 

In this episode, we discuss the paradox of the tax code, which gives incentives to companies to spend money on new technology INSTEAD of re-training workers. Peter also gives constructive insights into business culture and why it needs to change. 

#131 Why Migration is Good: Leonard Doyle

What do you think of when you hear the word “refugee” or “migrant”? If over-crowded rafts or vast tent encampments come to mind, you are not alone.

But there’s a very different— and much more positive side to migration. Across the world, record numbers of people are on the move in search of new opportunities and a better life.

One solution to the vast increase in global migration is to gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges resulting from a more deeply connected world.

Former journalist, Leonard Doyle, head of Media and Communications at the UN Migration agency IOM, is our guest. 

This episode discusses immigration reform, the surprising impact of Facebook and other social media platforms in promoting migration and the great contributions many migrants and refugees make to the new societies they join.

#130 A Fresh Look at Freedom: Russell Shorto

We discuss the American Revolution through six different pairs of eyes with acclaimed historian and journalist, Russell Shorto, author of the new book, "Revolution Song."

This episode examines the meaning of freedom in a fresh new light and has special resonance during the week of Thanksgiving. 

As he did with "The Island at the Center of the World," which looked at the Dutch impact on Manhattan and the founding of the nation, this book examines American values, drawing deeply on diaries, letters and autobiographies to flesh out six important lives. They include an African-American man who freed himself and his family from slavery, a Seneca tribal warrior who became a wise and respected political leader, and George Washington himself. 

When he began working on "Revolution Song" six years ago, "I thought I was doing history," Russell tells us. "I thought these things were long ago settled. I didn't think I would be living in a time when freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom of speech would be even debatable or under attack."

"The intertwined stories of "Revolution Song" give a sense of how far-reaching a phenomenon the War of Independence was," wrote a book reviewer recently in the New York Times
Russell Shorto makes the case that the Revolution is still being fought today and its ideals are worth defending. 
 

#129 Fixes for Manufacturing: Krisztina "Z" Holly

This week we dismantle the myth that American manufacturing is in a death spiral. It’s not. Our guest is MIT-trained engineer and tech entrepreneur Krisztina “Z” Holly, host of the podcast, “The Art of Manufacturing."

Even as factory jobs have declined, manufacturing growth has surged during the past three decades. Manufacturing production grew 2.9% in October compared to 2016, according to the Federal Reserve. From construction equipment to food products and semiconductors, manufacturers are riding a tide of business optimism.

This episode looks at new innovations in manufacturing and how the future could be brighter.

In addition to her popular podcast, Z is Founder & Chief Instigator of LA Mayor Garcetti’s "Make it in in LA" manufacturing initiative.

#128 Solutions for America's Opioid Epidemic: Sam Quinones

America’s opioid epidemic is an addiction crisis like no other the country has ever faced. Deaths outnumber car crash fatalities.

Since 1999, 200,000 people have died from overdoses related to Oxycontin and other prescription painkillers.

The scourge is the result of a terrible double whammy: The relentless marketing of pain pills and the ruthless efficiency of drug pushers from one small Mexican town, who deliver heroin like takeout pizza.

Our guest, Sam Quinones, author of the highly praised book "Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic," is our guide to this complex tragedy. We look at the roots of the epidemic and possible solutions. 

From innovative treatment programs in Kentucky jails to drug courts in Buffalo, New York that offer help for addicts, but also demand accountability, there are ways to reduce the immense pain, suffering and damage.

"This issue allows us to come together as Americans," says Sam.  "Every addict cannot go it alone. They need to be surrounded by services and people who can offer help."

"We've destroyed community in this country in a million different ways and heroin is what you get when you do that."

#127 The Threat to Democracy: Reed Galen

One year after the election of Donald Trump, American democracy is under threat. Our civic life is in a shambles.

Our guest, Reed Galen, says America is a “dual-civilization society,” with each side viewing the other with suspicion, disgust and disdain.

The guardrails of democracy are banged up. Some dents were made years ago — the result of dysfunction In Washington D.C. Others are the result of the President’s sustained attacks on Congress, the judiciary and a free press.

In this episode we look at ways to narrow the gap — from non-partisan redistricting commissions and curbs on gerrymandering, to encouraging more independents to run for office.

Political strategist Reed Galen was deputy campaign manager for Senator John McCain's Presidential campaign and worked in the George W. Bush White House. Earlier this year, Reed left the Republican Party and is now Chief Strategist at Serve America Movement.

He works actively to narrow the great political divide and boost citizen involvement in civic life.

#126 Using Data To Predict the Future: Rebecca Costa

Can data be used to prevent mass shootings, dramatically reduce opioid addiction and tell elderly people that they about to fall? Our guest, Rebecca Costa, says it can.

In this episode we look at why predictive analytics may be the most profound technological change in the past 15 years-- even more important than smartphones.

In her new book, “On The Verge,” and on this podcast, Rebecca says we now have the power to predict the future, adapting in advance to changing conditions.  She also tells us about the ideas raised on the popular radio show, “The Costa Report” and in her bestselling book, “The Watchman’s Rattle.”

Predictive analytics depend on the ability to collect massive amounts of data, using algorithms to analyze seemingly random bits of information. We explore why all this is coming together now. One example being used by doctors today is predictive healthcare.

Rebecca says that foresight and “fore action”will help human beings “assume our rightful place as aspiring Masters of the Universe.”

#125 The Harvey Weinstein Sex Scandal: What Next? Anne Thompson

The public downfall of film boss, Harvey Weinstein raises deep questions about the culture of Hollywood and its longstanding tolerance of sexual misbehavior by powerful men.

Rumors about Weinstein's outrageous behavior had been an open secret in Hollywood for years. But Weinstein, a king of independent film, was able to cow the media, and had the power to break the careers of any women who dared go public with complaints.

All that changed recently when a New York Times investigation uncovered dozens of allegations that Weinstein had engaged in rampant sexual harassment. A deeply reported article in The New Yorker included additional accounts of coercive behavior and sexual assaults on the part of the studio chief.

Anne Thompson, Editor-at-Large for the movie-news site, Indiewire, is our guest. Anne is a veteran entertainment journalist who has worked for the Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Entertainment Weekly. She's the author of the book, "The $11 Billion Year: From Sundance to The Oscars."

This episode looks at why so many women spoke out now and outlines ways that the entertainment business—and other industries—can become less tolerant of abuse. We look at the explosive growth of the #metoo movement on social media and examine tools victims can use to fight back. Thompson argues that it is possible to change Hollywood's abusive culture and that the Weinstein scandal provides an opportunity for change.

#124 Russia's Threat to U.S. Democracy: Amy Knight

How should the U.S. and other Western nations deal with Vladimir Putin and well-documented threats to democracy from the Russian government? What are the most effective ways to push back against hacking and other attacks?

Ever since Vladimir Putin came to power, his critics have turned up dead on a regular basis. According to our guest, Amy Knight, this is no coincidence. In her book "Orders to Kill" and during this episode of "How Do We Fix It?", she exposes a campaign of political murder during Putin's reign that includes terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

Called "the West's foremost scholar of the KGB” by The New York Times, Amy Knight traces Putin's journey from the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the late 1990's to his rise to absolute power in the Kremlin. 

In this episode, we also explore President Trump's defense of Putin and his denial that the Russian leader has murdered opponents. 

Amy Knight explains how human rights groups in the west and Putin's brave and outspoken critics in Russia could weaken the Kremlin.

Web Extra: Listen to Amy Knight explained why she was interviewed by the KBG when she was a young college student.

#123 Affirmative Action for Conservatives? Michael Roth

Are free speech rights threatened at universities? Is Attorney General Jeff Sessions correct when he says political correctness has run amok on college campuses?

Conservatives point to the angry scenes at Middlebury College, where Charles Murray was shouted down, and demonstrations at University of California, Berkeley, which led to the cancelation of Free Speech Week, as alarming examples of intolerance.

Liberals push back, saying that protests against neo-Nazis, racism, and those who denigrate other cultures are part of a proud tradition of resistance to hate.

In this episode, Richard speaks with Wesleyan University President, Michael Roth, who wrote a recent article for the Wall Street Journal: "The Opening of the Liberal Mind: Affirmative action for the study of conservative ideas."

Professor Roth makes a powerful argument in defense of free speech, especially for unpopular views. In the days after controversy erupted over President Trump's scathing criticism of NFL player protests during the national anthem, this debate has special resonance.

#122 Title IX and Sexual Assault: Jeannie Suk Gersen

Days ago, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos scrapped Obama-era Title IX rules on campus sexual assault, plunging herself into a furious controversy. This episode goes beyond name-calling and looks at how colleges and universities could improve their policies.

"This harmful step in the wrong direction may cause survivors of sexual assault to go back into the shadows, Democratic Senator Patty Murray said of the DeVos guidance. The co-founder of the group, End Rape on Campus, Sofie Karasek, went further, claiming the aim of the new policy was “to protect those who ‘grab’ by the genitals and brag about it”.

But Harvard Law Professor, Jeannie Suk Gersen, a longtime critic of the Obama Administration's 2011 letter to colleges and universities, wrote in NewYorker.com that if the DeVos statements "were made by a different official in a different Administration, they would seem rational, uncontroversial, and even banal."

In this episode of "How Do We Fix It?," we discuss arguments over "rape culture" on college campuses and the need to be fair to both the accused and the accuser. We look at the difference between "preponderance of evidence" and "clear and convincing" evidence when judging Title IX cases.