Upcoming Events: San Francisco
Amory Lovins: Peak Car OwnershipDate:
The future of driving
Amory Lovins, Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, Rocky Mountain Institute
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
Additional Speakers TBA
Will the rapid arrival of robotic cars lead to the blissful end of traffic? Or will autonomous cars merely put drivers out of work and clog our streets even more than before? No one knows for sure if the utopian or dystopian vision will arrive at your front door. What is clear is that the convergence of automobiles and information technology promises one of the biggest industrial and cultural disruptions we have ever seen. It is also happening faster than even the most rabid supporters expected. Will that upheaval help or hurt the need to move away from oil and other fossil fuels to protect the climate that supports our economy?
Join us for a conversation about this revolution in personal mobility.
Inheriting Cancer: When Risks Are in Your GenesDate:
How to handle inherited cancer
Evan Goldberg, Executive Vice President of Development, Oracle NetSuite Global Business Unit; Founder, BRCA Foundation
Alan Ashworth, Ph.D., FRS, President, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center; Senior Vice President for Cancer Services, UCSF Health; Professor of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, UCSF
Allison Kurian, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Medicine and of Health Research and Policy, Stanford University School of Medicine
Dorene Kastelman, Late-Stage Ovarian Cancer Survivor, BRCA Awareness Advocate
Cancer might be in your DNA. Cancer-causing mutations in the BRCA gene came roaring into our collective consciousness when Angelina Jolie candidly shared her decision to undergo a double mastectomy to prevent inherited cancer. How does a BRCA mutation affect the risk of cancer for both men and women? How are genetic cancers different than other cancers, and who should be tested? Join us for a panel discussion on genetic cancer, treatment and prevention. Genetic counselors from Color Genomics will be on hand to demonstrate how testing works.
Journalist T.R. Reid: How to Clean up the U.S. Tax SystemDate:
Rewriting the U.S. tax code
T.R. Reid, Correspondent, The Washington Post; Commentator, National Public Radio; Author, A Fine Mess: A Global Quest for a Simpler, Fairer, and More Efficient Tax System
On the eve of the annual tax deadline, here’s a program that promises to provide ammunition for the next time you complain to elected officials about the hassles and inequities of the U.S. tax system.
Noted journalist T.R. Reid points out the following: Last year, Americans spent more than 6 billion hours and $12 billion filing their taxes. In the Netherlands, the average filing time is 15 minutes; in Estonia, it takes 7 minutes. According to Reid, Congress has given its members various tax breaks and deductions that other Americans never receive. In Slovakia, by contrast, government representatives pay 5 percent more in tax. Reid goes on to say that U.S. billionaires can pay relatively very little tax—and sometimes no tax at all. France, Norway and Switzerland all have wealth taxes designed to reduce economic inequality.
Historically, there have been total rewrites of the U.S. tax code every 32 years—in 1922, 1954 and 1986. This means the next rewrite is due in 2018, and Congress and President Trump will need to begin revamping the code this year. Can they write a new tax code that is both fair and simple? Can they cut tax rates and still bring in the revenue required? According to Reid, this can be done. In this program, he’ll detail exactly how America can rewrite the tax code, in this case learning from other democracies around the world.
How Leaders Can Gain Competitive Advantage Through Lessons from HistoryDate:
Lessons from generals throughout history
Barry Strauss, Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies, Department of History at Cornell University; Visiting Scholar, Hoover Institution; Author
In his book, Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership, Strauss draws lessons from the experiences of history’s greatest generals. Strauss explains that a key component of these leaders’ successes was their ability to inspire loyalty from their troops. They did so by leading by example and, in turn, earned their soldiers’ trust and respect. In this program, Strauss will apply these lessons to today’s executives who strive to outperform competition and create an engaged, high-achieving workforce.
Sam Altman: Social Change and StartupsDate:
Sam Altman and social change
Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator; Co-chairman of OpenAI
Nellie Bowles, Silicon Valley Correspondent; Moderator, Vice News Tonight
Sam Altman, 31, has been one of Silicon Valley’s brightest stars for years as a founder, investor and president of Y Combinator. But, more recently, Sam and Y Combinator have both been making headlines for their involvement in some of today’s most contentious political and social issues.
Y Combinator’s new "basic income project," based in Oakland, will give 100 families a minimum wage with the goal of exploring alternatives to the existing social safety net. Sam has also been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration and has backed "track Trump," an online tool that monitors the promises President Trump delivers on, and those on which he comes up short. Y Combinator also recently welcomed the ACLU into their winter 2017 class and will help the ACLU turn its recent $24 million donation haul into concrete actions and organizational growth. Finally, Sam is in the beginning stages of a new project focused on finding a way to reduce housing costs through the creation of a smart city prototype.
Sam was named president of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s largest startup incubator, in 2014. Y Combinator’s portfolio includes heavyweights, such as Airbnb, Dropbox and Stripe. Sam began his tech career as CEO of Loopt, which was acquired in 2012 and was included in Y Combinator’s first round of funded companies in 2005. Sam is also a personal investor in several of today’s most successful startups, including Airbnb, Stripe, Reddit, Asana and Pinterest.
Join INFORUM, Sam and moderator Nellie Bowles of Vice for an insightful and timely conversation about tech, politics and everything in between.
The Future of Digital MarketingDate:
Challenges and opportunities for the next year
Pete Kim, CEO, MightyHive
Nikesh Desai, CEO, InvestingChannel
Mason Garrity, Vice President of Strategy, 3Q Digital
Anneka Gupta, CPO, LiveRamp—Moderator
Digital marketing is constantly evolving with incredible advancements in technology, partnerships, acquisitions and new strategic thinking. Ad-blocking, artificial intelligence, programmatic media buying, and big data are constant buzzwords we hear about the marketing landscape. Join this panel of experts across agency, publishing and technology as they discuss the biggest challenges and opportunities ahead for the next year.
Mason Garrity has over eight years experience in digital marketing, originally getting hooked at Kayak.com in college. Leading 3Q Digital's consulting and strategy practices, he works with the Bay Area’s most innovative companies and achieves growth goals through performance marketing. Prior to 3Q, Garrity co-founded Noosphere Marketing, an online marketing firm in New York City and received a degree in economics from Pomona College. Nikesh Desai is the co-founder and CEO of InvestingChannel, an interactive media platform that aggregates independent financial news. Prior, Desai co-founded the consultancy Giant Step Strategies and served as VP of business development at TheStreet.com. An influential figure in advertising technology, Pete Kim has worked with the world’s largest advertisers on improving marketing strategies across every industry vertical. He has held senior positions in product management, sales, and business development at Google and Yahoo!. Moderator Anneka Gupta is chief product officer of LiveRamp, where she oversees the execution and strategy of LiveRamp’s roadmap.
Digging Deep into Philanthropy—the Good, the Bad and the UglyDate:
Getting ahead in the modern era
David Callahan, Ph.D., Princeton; Founder, Demos Think Tank; Founder, Insidephilanthropy.com; Author, The Givers: Money, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age
Emmett Carson, President, Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Nick Tedesco, Senior Philanthropic Adviser, J.P. Morgan Private Bank Philanthropy Centre—Moderator
David Callahan holds a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton and is the author of seven previous nonfiction books, including The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead and Fortunes of Change: The Rise of the Liberal Rich and the Remaking America. Callahan’s latest investigation focuses on what he calls the secretive world of elite philanthropists—and how they're quietly wielding ever more power to shape American life in ways both good and bad.
While media attention focuses on famous philanthropists, such as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Charles Koch, Callahan says thousands of donors are at work below the radar promoting a wide range of causes, converting fortunes into influence, with deep impact on government policy.
Emmett Carson, president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, now with $8 billion in assets, has become a major player in Bay Area and national philanthropy, especially for tech givers, and will give his perspective on the philanthropic world.
Come hear about a power shift in American society that Callahan says has implications for us all.
Ongoing Socrates forum
On one Monday evening of every month the Humanities Forum sponsors Socrates Café at The Commonwealth Club. Each meeting is devoted to the discussion of a philosophical topic chosen at that meeting. The group's facilitator, John Nyquist, invites participants to suggest topics, which are then voted on. The person who proposed the most popular topic is asked to briefly explain why she or he considers that topic interesting and important. An open discussion follows, and the meeting ends with a summary of the various perspectives participants expressed. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Krista Tippett: Heart, Mind and SpiritDate:
Insights about living
Krista Tippett, Host, "On Being"; Author, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living; Twitter @kristatippett
Rev. Alan Jones, Dean Emeritus, Grace Cathedral San Francisco—Moderator
Note: Each ticket comes with a copy of Krista Tippett's book, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
The heart of Krista Tippett’s work on her NPR program and podcast, "On Being," has been to shine a light on people whose insights kindle in us a sense of wonder and courage. She interviews a variety of people, including scientists, poets, activists and theologians from an array of faiths who have all opened themselves up to Tippett's compassionate yet searching conversations. In her latest book, Becoming Wise, Tippett distills the insights she has gleaned from these luminous conversations into a master class about living.
Join us for an enlightening discussion about her work and insights into her fiercely hopeful vision of humanity for this century.
Vicente Fox, Former President of MexicoDate:
Fox on U.S.–Mexican relations
Immigration, the Wall, and the Future of U.S.–Mexican Relations
Vicente Fox, President of Mexico, 2000–2006
Dr. Gloria Duffy, President and CEO, The Commonwealth Club—Moderator
To the American public, Vicente Fox may be Mexico’s most well-known, modern politician. Prior to becoming president, he received a top management diploma from Harvard Business School and went on to become president of Coca-Cola for Mexico and Latin America. He has most recently made national headlines by telling President Trump that Mexico “will not pay for that [expletive] wall,” and continues to engage President Trump on social media.
Fox was the first candidate from an opposition party to be elected president. Currently, he is actively involved in encouraging leadership and creating opportunities for less favored people through his organization Centro Fox. What are the realities and possibilities for the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico? Here’s a rare chance to get a unique perspective from one of Mexico’s most prominent and outspoken thought leaders.
Let's Talk About Death: Get Ready, Get Set, GoDate:
Topics related to end of life
Suzette Sherman, End of Life Speaker; CEO, Founder and Blogger, SevenPonds
Sally Shannon, End of Life Coach and Consultant; Home Funeral Guide, Threshold Coaching and Consulting
Historically, Americans have been culturally conditioned to avoid the subject of death. We are reluctant to talk about it, and many of us have not even thought about how we want to live at the end of our lives. As a result, the vast majority of people approaching the end of life are completely unprepared to die.
In this presentation, Sherman and Shannon will review ways that participants can plan appropriately for the end of life. Topics covered will include: advance directives; Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST); home funerals; and options for disposition, including cremation and green burial. They will also discuss dying at home, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking, and California’s recently enacted End of Life Options Act.
Humanities West Book Discussion: Cleopatra, by Stacy SchiffDate:
The story of one of the most intriguing women in history
Join us to discuss Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer who brings to life one of the most intriguing women in human history. Though the palace of the last queen of Egypt actually did shimmer with onyx, garnets and gold, it was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Cleopatra died young, at 39, but first married two brothers, dispatching one in a brutal civil war while they were still teenagers, and poisoning the other, before eliminating a sister as well. She had a son with Julius Caesar and three children with Marc Antony, complicating but probably prolonging wealthy Egypt's fatal embrace by the relatively uncivilized Romans. In a masterly return to classical sources, Schiff boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose dramatic death ushered in a new world order. Discussion led by Lynn Harris.
#Resist with Annie Leonard and Shannon CoulterDate:
How to create a cleaner economy
Shannon Coulter, Co-Founder, #GrabYourWallet Boycott
Annie Leonard, Executive Director, Greenpeace USA; Founder, Story of Stuff
Greg Dalton, Founder and Host, Climate One
The campaign to pressure retail companies to distance themselves from Trump brands claimed victory when Nordstrom dropped Ivanka Trump’s brand and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from the president’s business advisory council. But what did the campaign really accomplish other than a “gotcha moment"? Isn’t it good for Trump to be influenced by business leaders grounded in reality?
Research shows some of the campaigns designed to pressure companies have mixed results. Some win, a few get traction and then fizzle, and many never go anywhere. Have you heard of a campaign to pressure banks financing the Dakota Access Pipeline opposed by Native Americans? We didn’t think so. In one success story, Facebook was pressured to run its data centers on clean energy rather than coal. Greenpeace cleverly used Facebook for its "unfriend coal" campaign, and ultimately the tech giant pledged to gradually move to 100 percent clean power.
Join a conversation on pressuring companies and personal brands. What works, what doesn’t and what can you do if you care about putting your money to work in the move to a cleaner economy.
Our Toxic World: Is It Making Us Sick?Date:
Toxins in our daily lives
Andrew Campbell, M.D., Former Medical Director, Medical Center for Immune and Toxic Disorders; Former Medical Director, Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Center; Editor-in-Chief, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, The International Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Natural Solutions
Toxins are everywhere. They're in our personal care and cleaning products, sofas, carpets, and clothes. Before some women leave the house, they may put on over a hundred toxic products. Most of these toxins have not been studied for their safety and cause harm at doses lower than previously thought. They are synergistic, causing greater harm when combined. Dr. Campbell points out that certain countries will not import American meat or food due to the high level of harmful substances fed to our animals or used on our crops. Come to this forum and learn more about toxins.
San Francisco Architecture Walking TourDate:
Explore San Francisco’s Financial District with historian Rick Evans and learn the history and stories behind some of our city’s remarkable structures, streets and public squares. Hear about the famous architects who influenced the building of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake. Discover hard-to-find rooftop gardens, Art Deco lobbies, unique open spaces and historic landmarks. This is a tour for locals, with hidden gems you can only find on foot!
Dangers of a Digitized World: Combating Technology Run AmokDate:
Technology changing our world
Ian I. Mitroff, Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California; Senior Research Associate, Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, University of California, Berkeley
In conversation with Gerald Harris, Member-Led Forum Leader, Science & Technology Forum, the Commmonwealth Club
Technology has made our lives incomparably better, but it is also one of the greatest threats facing humankind. All of the marvelous gadgets we’ve invented are not only thoroughly reinventing us, but they are also doing it in ways in which we have no idea of their full impact. In short, we are undergoing a transformation that affects every aspect of our being—our brains, bodies, institutions and the entire world.
Ian Mitroff, currently developing ideas for an upcoming book, will discuss these topics and more. According to Mitroff, we cannot continue to dump the latest technologies on the world without doing a better job of forecasting their negative and positive aspects; we need to do everything we can to mitigate potential negative impacts in order to avoid an immense backlash against technology.
Mitroff is a professor emeritus at the University of Southern California where he was the Harold Quinton distinguished professor of business policy at the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He is currently a senior investigator for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management. He holds a bachelor's of science in engineering physics, a master's in structural engineering, and a Ph.D. in industrial engineering and the philosophy of social systems science from the University of California, Berkeley. He has published 37 books and hundreds of articles and op-eds. He is a regular blogger for The Huffington Post. He lives in Oakland, CA, where he is president of Mitroff Crisis Management. He is generally regarded as one of the principal founders of the crisis management field.
Gerald Harris leads the Club's science and technology member-led forum and has over 20 years experience as a strategy consultant for energy and high technology companies.
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal: Getting Big Business out of Health CareDate:
Keeping health care and big business separate
Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, Editor-in-Chief, Kaiser Health News; Former Correspondent, The New York Times; Author, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, Twitter @RosenthalHealth
Elisabeth Rosenthal will reveal the dark details of the American health-care system. Breaking down the monolithic business into its individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies and drug manufacturers—that together constitute our health-care system, Rosenthal will divulge a history of American medicine that’s never been told before. She will also tell patients exactly how they can fight back.
After 22 years as a correspondent at The New York Times (where she covered a variety of beats from health care to environment), Rosenthal joined Kaiser Health News last September. She is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School and briefly practiced medicine in a New York City emergency room before converting to journalism.
Battle For Syria: International Rivalry in the New Middle EastDate:
Competing for influence in Syria
Christopher Phillips, Ph.D. in International Relations, London School of Economics; Senior Lecturer in International Relations (with an Emphasis on Contemporary Jordan and Syria), Queen Mary's College in London; Author, The Battle for Syria
Jonathan Curiel, Journalist—Moderator
Phillips will discuss The Battle for Syria, his latest, highly praised book, and how six external protagonists, including the U.S. and Russia, have competed for influence in Syria—a key battleground. Philips, who founded the Syria and Its Neighbours Policy Initiative, has called the Syrian tragedy a disaster of global proportions and the greatest human catastrophe of the 21st century.
Mastering Migraines: Neuroscience Nutrition and the Art of Avoiding Your TriggersDate:
Natural ways to combat migraines
Steve Blake, ScD, Faculty Nutritional Biochemist, Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience; Research Scientist; Author, Mastering Migraines, Parkinson’s Disease: Dietary Regulation of Dopamine, Vitamins and Minerals Demystified, A Nutritional Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease; Co-author, Mosby's Drug Guide for Nurses
True migraines involve not only pain, but they also often involve nausea and light sensitivity. They may occur many times each month. To reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, one can identify the most common food and nonfood triggers, avoiding personal triggers. We will explore many scientific approaches that may help to reduce reliance on migraine drugs. For example, ginger root tea can not only help with nausea, but it was also found to lower migraine pain just as much as the powerful drug sumatriptan. You will learn many ways to lower excitability in the brain, potentially reducing migraine attacks. From ice packs on the back of the neck to coenzyme Q10, Blake will outline some of the many safer, natural remedies for migraine headaches with the goal of helping you to become free from migraine pain.
Blake recently finished a clinical study successfully using nutrients to combat neurodegeneration. He also authored Diet Doctor, software used to analyze dietary nutrients. For more information, visit: www.DrSteveBlake.com.
Middle East Forum DiscussionDate:
The Middle East Forum discussion group—which primarily covers the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan— has been meeting monthly for nine years. We are not a debate group. Each month we discuss timely, cultural subjects in a civil atmosphere with respect for others and their opinions. Students are particularly welcome.