One skill determines if you're relevant in today's economy

How do you make yourself valuable in an ever-changing economy? You become well-rounded.

Bill Drayton: Maybe a good way to get into this is to ask: why are income distributions everywhere getting worse and worse, regardless of the nature of the economy, regardless of ideology? That’s just a fact.

And the second question: why do we have “us versus them” politics (and all the pain and disruption that causes) spreading and spreading across the world? So that’s another fact.

So this is not based on a personality or some economic peculiarity. There’s a deeper force at work.

So let’s start with some other facts. From 1700 to now, the rate of change and the degree of interconnection have both been going up, each feeding the other exponentially.

And the demand for repetition has been going down in a mirror curve. These curves have been going for 300 years, and we’re now at a point that much of the world is already functioning as an everything-changing world where you must be a “change-maker” to be able to play in this game. And those are skills that are almost exactly the opposite of the skills that were appropriate in a world organized around efficiency and repetition.

The old model was: you learn a skill – barber, banking, it doesn’t matter. And then you repeat it for life in workplaces with walls – assembly lines, law firms. And that world is basically gone, except a lot of people don’t know it yet.

And in the world that is all around us, the successful parts of the world, you have to have very different skills. You’ve got to be able to live in a kaleidoscope of contacts that are all changing and are interconnected. And you have to be able to see new patterns and come together in new teams and work with teams of teams.

This is very complex and it requires very specific skills. And the world is now increasingly divided by the new inequality between those that have the skills and are in the new game of change and those who don’t have the skills. And this is very bitter.

The people who are in the game are helping one another get better as it speeds up because that’s what you do with teammates. You need your teammates to be really good.
So that part of the world is getting better and better at a game that the other part doesn’t see, doesn’t have the skills, and is being pushed out. And we’re telling those people, “Go away. We don’t need you. It’s your fault. And by the way your kids don’t have much of a future.”

So why do we have income distribution getting worse? Because there’s a bidding war for the people who are change-makers, who are in the change game, and there’s going-away demand for people who don’t have those skills. Economics 101.

Why do we have us-versus-them politics? Because if you treat anyone—let alone large parts of humanity—in this really terrible way, “You can’t be a part of society; You can’t contribute; You are powerless”—This is terrible! This is what makes people profoundly unhappy. And of course you have opioids.

We have to tear down the new inequality and therefore the income inequality and this outrageous way of treating a large part of the population.

And the key is we have to help every single human being have the skills so they can contribute, so they can be powerful, so they are change-makers. That’s the heart of it.

Bill Drayton, the founder and CEO of social entrepreneurship firm Ashoka, thinks that doing business today relies on being as prismatic and as open as possible. That's how you become, as he puts it, a "change maker." The world doesn't need more specialists, he posits, because well-rounded people open to new ideas and learning new skills can fit just about anywhere.

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Credit: NASA
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CRISPR therapy cures first genetic disorder inside the body

It marks a breakthrough in using gene editing to treat diseases.

Credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

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Credit: Electronics Hub
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