The conference was marked by controversy over men at a women's conference telling women the same old things that really have not worked. From how the Wed evening panel was handled (by both the organizers and the participants) to the comments made by the CEO of Microsoft. Both situations resulted in the men LISTENing to the criticism, apologizing for not do better, and publicly trying to lead the change toward doing better. It is still to be seen how the words and efforts will play out in the long run.
Here are a few (paraphrased) sentences I heard:
- We need to have the tough conversation.
- We all make mistakes.
- We cannot push an ally away with persecution for a single mistake.
- We all need to listen to the criticism and learn from the mistakes.
- We need to thank those that enter the minefield and show up to have the hard conversations.
Outside of the conference, I loved the quote by Diane Sawyer after talking about The Nobel Peace Prize given to Malala and straight out of Malala's goals: "It is amazing what can happen when we educate girls".
The keynote speaker for the final day was Dr. Arati Prabhaker from DARPA. She was scheduled for last year but the government shutdown forced a last minute substitution. A few of the technical research efforts that her team is working on are:
- Space - launching small satellites from military planes from any runway. These are 100 pound satellites placed into low orbit with the costs down to 1 million dollars and 24 hours notice instead of 10's of million and in 24 months of planning.
- Biology - Research into moving injured military from rehab to recovery with better prothetics and direct brain control. Human trials are already started and a 60 minutes video shows a women (in attendance at the conference) using thought to manipulate a robot arm.
- Biology - Infectious diseases are in the news. Right now a flu shot needs weeks to get the body to create antibodies. DARPA research is looking for quicker diagnosis to reduce the spread as well as create targeted cures and prevention. They are looking for a flu shot that triggers antibodies within hours instead of weeks.
- Information Technology - Today we really do have only the option of "patch and pray". What can we do in the future to reset this? DARPA research is working on a Capture the Flag for AI machines only. They plan to place it next to the Capture the Flag at the next DefCon. They are also working on accuracy and speed in pattern matching and other data analysis technologies. Recently a pattern matching exercise resulted in a list of phone numbers which were matched to a local law enforcement database which narrowed the list to known criminals and eventually to about 30 numbers from (or near) North Korea that eventually led to reducing human trafficking.
The last day is also a day to get the final set of swag from the career fair and attend the final party. Do not forget a bag for the swag at the party and be early to get in on the raffle from the sponsors.
On the swag: I love the puzzles. I can use the portable chargers and cables (though I now have many more cables than I need). I have once again replenished my office supply of pens (a few more PostIt notes would have been helpful) and my work from home wardrobe of T-shirts (more colors than at most tech conferences but still a lot of my least favorite black and grey). Some of the tote bags are useful, specifically the ones that can handle groceries (flat bottoms with strong handles).