the New Context Conference:

Social Impact of Blockchain
Collaboration with Microbes

4 & 5 November 2016 @ DG717
717 Market St, San Francisco, California, 94103, USA

For over ten years, Digital Garage has hosted the New Context Conference to discuss techno-social transformations, the emergence of a new shared reality, and the opportunities for profound transformation. November 4 and 5 2016, the New Context Conference returns to DG717 in San Francisco for two days, discussing two transformative technologies: Blockchain and Microbes.

Friday 4 November: Blockchain is rewriting systems of trust that bind our transactions online and potentially in the real world.
Saturday 5 November: Humans are collaborating with microbes to improve our food & drink, physical health, and potential for environmental renewal.

Including a conversation with Digital Garage co-founder Joi Ito, currently the Director of the MIT Media Lab. We look forward to convening brilliant minds for a multidisciplinary conversation to explore these changes in our business and personal lives, ending on Saturday evening with a fermenty party.

Open Innovation Platform for the Next Generation of Digital Business

In such a technologically advanced society like ours, the wave of Open Innovation arose from the Internet. It not only expands in the software industry, but also in the hardware industry. This wave is now growing rapidly in many technologies fields such as biotechnology.

Being agile and flexible to these diverse social changes, as well as having our business grow by incorporating cutting-edge technology, Digital Garage will launch “DG Lab”, our R&D organization, in order to plant seeds for our next business pillar. At DG Lab, we will focus on the following 5 areas: Blockchain, VR/AR, AI, Security, and Biotechnology. We will collaborate with our portfolio companies inside and outside of Japan, in hopes of creating new products and services that have the potential of becoming DG’s next business pillar. Engineers and designers who are passionate in the leading research developments will gather to DG Lab, striving together to develop through active discussions. With the image of the next “Bauhaus of technology” in mind, we hope that DG Lab become a global platform where new chemical change happens with design × data × technology were all organically connected.




Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum - these buzzwords are migrating from geek slang to the dictionary as they define an independent architecture for human trust and exchange. Amidst news of discord and hacking, who is responsible for building a reliable distributed ledger? How can the architecture behind crypto-currency benefit the greatest number of earthlings? Friday 4 November at DG717 in San Francisco, we will take a look at how blockchain might evolve for or against our social institutions.

Kaoru Hayashi

Greetings from President and Group CEO of Digital Garage

Adam Back

Opening Remarks on the Social Impact of Blockchain

With the recent incidents regarding The DAO, Bitfinex in mind, discussions surrounding the security behind the blockchain technology and steps on how to make it more secure.

Speech: Eric Lombrozo
Speech: (TBD)
Speech: Thaddeus Dryja
Panel: Shin'ichiro Matsuo (moderator) Cory Fields, Tadge Dryja, Eric Lombrozo

Taking a closer look at the different forms of blockchain (private, public, etc.), it’s respective merits, demerits, and current standardizations.

Speech: Brian Behlendorf
Speech: Sachiko Yoshihama
Panel: Adam Levine (moderator) Christopher Allen, Brian, Sachiko, Shin'ichiro

Lunch provided for attendees

Representatives from leading Blockchain companies, addressing the current technical challenges blockchain technologies face in progressing towards wider mass adoption.

Speech: Elizabeth Stark
Speech: Ryan Shea
Speech: Kazue Sako
Panel: (TBD) Elizabeth, Ryan, Kazue

Current and future approaches on nurturing the small, growing community of blockchain developers.

Speech: Tess Rinearson
Speech: Jeremy Rubin
Panel: Robert Schwentker (moderator), Laolu Osuntokun, Charley Hine

Taking a different approach to blockchain - looking at the technology through an academic perspective.

Speech: Ethan Heilman
Speech: Shin'ichiro Matsuo
Speech: Benedikt Bunz
Panel: Elizabeth Stark (moderator), Ethan, Shin'ichiro, Benedikt

Fermentation is an ancient technology; our ability to collaborate with microbes is modern. This second day of the NCC will explore fermented food and drink, the microbial commons, fermentation that might heal our planet, and microbes that could heal our body. Our speakers have worked with sake, natto (fermented soybeans), microalgae cultivation, citizen microbiome sequencing, and topical biologics, to name just a few catalysts. Please join us for a day of conversational metabolic processing followed by a fermented tasting and drinking party in the late afternoon.

Kaoru Hayashi

Greetings from President and Group CEO of Digital Garage

Joi Ito

"How can humans and microbes collaborate together?" Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab, said “Bio is the New Digital”. The current Director of Media Lab, Joi Ito will explain why Bio is the New Digital, what is happening in those fields and explore the future of human’s life with biotechnology.i

When you hear “Fermented Foods and Drinks,” what occurs to your mind? In this session we focus on Japanese fermented foods and drinks, because Japanese have a long history of making them a close part of everyday life. At the end of the conference we serve those, so learn in the morning then try them later!

Speech: Kazuhiro Sakurai (Asahishuzo): "Dassai changes sake's conventional wisdom"
Speech: Kazunori Ogawara (ASAICHIBAN Corporation): Natto goes global
Speech: Reed Robert (Ajinomoto)
Panel: Dominick Chen(Moderator)/Kazuhiro Sakurai/Kazunori Ogawara/Reed Robert
Joi and Dominick who is the evangelist of Japanese fermented foods talk about the relationship between information technology and microbe and how microbe contribute to cybernetics.
Microbial networking lunch, with a light lunch

Speech: Patrick Boyle (Ginkgo Bioworks): "Biology by Design: Engineering organisms with software and hardware automation"

Can you imagine microbe may save our planet? We live in an unsustainable world, using resources faster than we can replenish them. We introduce microbes have infinite possibilities by showing examples such as alternative fuel, lighting and clothes.

Speech: Sunanda Sharma (Living Mushtari, MIT Media Lab): "Symbiotic Design in Living Wearables"
Speech: Wen Wang (bioLogic, MIT Media Lab): "Material opens and closes in response to humidity by bacteria"
Speech: Mitsuru Izumo (Euglena)
Speech: Julie Legault(Amino labs)
Panel: Dominick Chen(Moderator)/Sunanda Sharma/Wen Wang/Mitsuru Izumo/Julie Legault

Is bacteria human’s enemy? or Can we live together for better life? Do you know it is said that the human microbiome includes around 100 trillion bacterial cells? We want to consider together how to live better life with bacteria.

Speech: Larry Weiss (AOBiome): "Adventures in the skin microbiome: Restoring your health with Ammonia Oxidizing Bacteria"
Speech: Mohan Iyer (Second Genome): "Microbiome to Medicine"
Speech: Colleen Cutcliffe (Whole Biome): "Using your Microbes to Improve Metabolism"
Speech: Jessica Richman (uBiome)
Panel: Larry Weiss(Moderator)/Mohan Iyer/Colleen Cutcliffe/Jessica Richman

Let's ferment: drinking and eating and talking. Including tastes of these foods: Natto, Natto based dipping sauce, Onigiri (Japanese rice balls with fermented foods), Tsukemono(Japanese preserved vegetables) and more. And drinks: Dassai(Japanese premium Sake), Kombucha, Euglena drink, and more.


Social Impact of Blockchain
  • Friday, 4 November - 9am-6pm
Blockchain Tickets
Collaboration with Microbes
  • Saturday, 5 November - 9am-7pm
Microbes Tickets

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