News & Perspectives

Arc Fusion Launches in San Francisco: Should We Build a Better Human?

Arc Fusion Launches in San Francisco: Should We Build a Better Human?

Perspective// Posted by: Christine Mason / 12 May 2014

David Ewing Duncan and Stephen Petranek have launched a new initiative , called Arc fusion, with the backing of Johnson & Johnson (who also backed BioAgenda, Arc’s precursor).

Arc’s mission is to accelerate the fusion of health, IT, and biomedicine – three crucial elements of healthcare, and of life, that are now struggling to break out of silos and launch a new paradigm in health care, and in how we live. Arc is establishing a gathering place for people, associations, conferences, movements, and others to converge and connect around the fusion idea. Arc is about real talk – edgy, disruptive, inspiring, and galvanizing. It’s also about taking action: to establish programs that support and aggressively push the fusion agenda. This will include support for white papers, academic projects, and initiatives, plus a program of acknowledging and backing entrepreneurial efforts through prizes, grants, and other support mechanisms.

The initial launch party was held in San Francisco, with an exceptional program. David, Eric Schadt, Juan Enriquez and several others led a conversation on what building a better human might actually mean, with great debate and discussion from the small, thoughtful audience. And what happens to us as a human family, in hundreds of years, as those who choose genetic modification, cellular manipulation, bionics – are gradually stratified and differentiated from those who stay organic – will there be multiple strains of human beings? How far would you go to optimize your health, performance, capacity – or that of those you love? And dinner impresario Michael Hebb, was brilliant as usual, making the dinner table come alive – driving interaction and conversation – intent and concept and presentation through form and food and focus.

The question itself was hotly debated, as each word in it carries weight. Is there even a should, a mandate? That could just as easily be “can”. Who is “we”? The answer changes significantly depending on the identity and intent of the “we”- is it affirmative health practitioners or eugenic crazies? And what is “better”, and in whose eyes? What is even “Human” as you cross the lines of biology and technology?

Innovators and conveners Matthew Holt, (Health 2.0) Jessica Richman (UBiome) and Mike Weiner (Brain Health Registry and UCSF) each gave powerful short talks. A powerful guest list of scientists, pundits and inventors was in attendance. We noted the polymath author and commentator Kevin Kelly, pioneering biologic surgeon Dr. Kevin Stone, Kevin Noble of Genentech, ideators such as Tamsin Smith and investors, such as Arch Meredith.

This conversation, touching on transhumanism, bio-enhancement, health optimization is a much needed forum. Duncan and Petranek are off to a great start. The duo will continue to host conversations and dinners throughout 2014 and 2015. The first major event will be in San Diego in 2015.

Christine Mason
Christine maps new markets for emerging technologies, scouts for strategic expansion opportunities, and guides internal innovation strategies for leading companies.