TEDx at Yale Talk with Juan Enriquez

by Mariana Lopez-Rosas:

TEDx at Yale

Juan Enriquez, CEO of Biotechnomy, a life sciences and investment firm, founder of the Life Sciences Project at the Harvard Business School, gave a talk to an audience of about 50 students on the importance of biotechnology in a globalized world on Wednesday at 4 pm. This is the first talk organized by TEDx at Yale.

A native of Mexico City, Enriquez graduated from Harvard College where he majored in political science. Since then he has been a strong force in Mexican politics and economy, writing popular columns in the newspaper Reforma, and negotiating a cease-fire with Zapatista rebels. In the US he has focused on biotechnology, founding Biotechnomy, a life sciences and investment firm, along with the Life Sciences Project at the Harvard Business School.

In order to illustrate the importance of biotechnology in the modern world, he made notice of the recent bewildering advances in the field. One example is the evolution of hearing aids.

“To hear better your grandfather used one of those big horns, then we had hearing aids,” Enriquez said. “Now we have cochlear implants that reach the bone and improve hearing first by 40 percent, and now by 80 percent.”

Other advances he mentioned included the transformation of skin cells into stem cells and the creation of molars on petri dishes.

He also mentioned “a mildly arrogant viewpoint:” that the creation of the universe with its complexities of in every scale was meant for the human species.

But one of his most revolutionary ideas, which he discuses in the book New Human Species, is the expected evolution of a new hominid species in near future. The homo evolutis, which he said he speculates will be the most adapted hominid, endowed with tremendous mental capabilities, he said, “Twenty thousand species have gone around and become extinct,” Enriquez said. “I believe that we’re going to move into a homo evolutis, and our grandchildren will begin to live it.”

What will set apart this hominid from us, he said, is what he labeled “the ultimate reboot.”

“This hominid could take direct control of his species, this species and other species, and that of course, would be the ultimate reboot,” he said.

His daughter, Diana Enriquez ’13, said that she grew up in an environment where she was always encouraged to ask questions. Family dinners, she said, often turned into conversations about technology, and art, her mother being an Art History professor. On campus she focuses on immigration rights and participates in Latin American student organizations on campus.

The talk with Enriquez is the first one organized by the recently formed group TEDx, which aims to bring motivated global leaders to complement the global presence at Yale.

“TEDx acts on ideas worth spreading,” Miles Grimshaw ’13 said. “We want people to start talking about different ideas and then taking action, inspired by the speakers.”

Grimshaw, said that he was motivated to bring TEDx to campus after hearing one of their speeches in China, where he was studying abroad.

“It is worthy to live an engaged life,” Grimshaw said. “TEDx is like the perfect combination of theater and a lecture.”

Student organizers of TEDx have had extensive experience abroad. Some have lived in Jordan, coursing through different schools. Event manager team member Mercina Tilleman-Dick has lived in many parts of the world, an experience that has let her appreciate humanity, she said.

TEDx is organizing a larger event in February where Yale professors as well as motivated students will be given a chance to go on stage and share their ideas on a wide array of topics.