Chitra Ragavan

Techtopia with Chitra Ragavan

Ep. 19 — A Veteran CIA Operative Looks Back on the Early Days of the War in Afghanistan and the Implications of the Recent Pull Out / Michael Hurley, Former CIA Operations Officer & Senior Counsel and Team Leader 9/11 Commission.

https://media.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/ins.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/Techtopia_19_RD2.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Email | RSS As we approach the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, the frenetic U..S. pullout of Afghanistan under dangerous conditions has reopened the wounds of those strikes and once again raises the specter of al Qaeda and ISIS taking root in Afghan soil —  posing new global threats to American security and those of our allies for decades to come. Joining me now to talk about the deepening crisis of the Afghanistan crisis and its ramifications is my dear friend, Michael Hurley who served for 25 years as a CIA operations officer, serving 15 of those in foreign countries. Immediately after the 9/11 attacks, Hurley deployed for 18 months to Afghanistan where he led Agency personnel and U.S. Special Forces in Operation Anaconda, the biggest campaign of the Afghan conflict to find and destroy the last refuge of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. In that role, Mike was a leader in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He also served as a Senior Counsel and Team Leader on the 9/11 Commission, directing its counterterrorism policy investigation and co-authoring its best-selling final report. Hurley remains deeply immersed in the national security and policy implications in the aftermath of the attacks and speaks and advises widely on those critical issues.  He currently is a strategic advisor to some of the most innovative technology companies in Silicon Valley and beyond. In this riveting episode, the suburban Minnesota native looks back on those early days of being dropped into Afghanistan’s cold, unforgiving mountainous terrain and having to land on his feet without knowledge of language, culture, food, or people and ability to distinguish friend from foe. Without any kind of blueprint, he immediately had to begin gaining the trust of friendly Afghan militia and citizens and working with the most elite teams in the U.S. and allied military to capture or kill members of al Qaeda and the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden. Hurley also shares his views on the messy U.S. pull out of Afghanistan in recent weeks and the implications for resurgence of al Qaeda and other terror cells and the possibility of future terrorist attacks against the U.S. And he looks at how the U.S. mishandled the evacuation plans for potentially half a million Afghans and their families who helped the War in Afghanistan over two decades, the majority of whom have been left behind and remain in peril at the hands of the Taliban.

Ep. 19 — A Veteran CIA Operative Looks Back on the Early Days of the War in Afghanistan and the Implications of the Recent Pull Out / Michael Hurley, Former CIA Operations Officer & Senior Counsel and Team Leader 9/11 Commission. Read More »

Ep. 18 — A War Photographer Assesses the Ramifications of the U.S. Pullout of Afghanistan / Lynsey Addario, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist. 

https://media.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/ins.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/Techtopia_18_RD1.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Email | RSS As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates with shocking speed, tens of thousands of Americans and Afghan citizens — who’ve worked closely with Americans over the past two decades, are confronting perilous conditions as they try to reach the Kabul airport and leave the country. Major news organizations are trying to extract both U.S. and fellow Afghan journalists even as these reporters put their lives on the line and continue to report from the field for as long as they can under dangerous conditions.  Meanwhile, human rights activists are increasingly concerned about the plight of women under the new Taliban regime. Joining me now to talk about the situation in Afghanistan is the Pulitzer-Prize-winning photojournalist and war photographer Lynsey Addario. She has traveled in and out of Afghanistan, shooting groundbreaking photographs including of women under the Taliban before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And she has continued her reporting in the two decades since the US invasion of Afghanistan — a period in which millions of women were able to get educated, join the workforce, and come into their own. Addario wrote an August 16th article in the Atlantic titled, The Taliban’s Return is Catastrophic for Women. She is the author of a book of war photographs, titled,  Of Love and War and the New York Times best-selling memoir It’s What I Do, in which she writes about the incredible risks she has taken photographing every major conflict and humanitarian crisis of her generation, played out against the backdrop of the post-9/11 War on Terror. This is my second conversation with the fearless Addario. To hear her personal story of how she became a photojournalist, how she covers major conflicts, how she survived a violent kidnapping in Libya, and why she does the work she does, do check out my previous interview with Addario on my leadership podcast, When It Mattered, Episode 35. It’s an incredible story.

Ep. 18 — A War Photographer Assesses the Ramifications of the U.S. Pullout of Afghanistan / Lynsey Addario, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photojournalist.  Read More »

Ep. 17 — The Global Race to Secure 5G Networks Against Cyber Threats from China and other Geopolitical Adversaries / Rob Strayer, EVP, Information Technology Industry Council & Former Ambassador for Cyber Policy at U.S. State Department.

https://media.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/ins.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/Techtopia_17_RD1.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Email | RSS The world’s wireless systems are going through a major technology transformation through fifth-generation cellular networks — known as 5G for short. In addition to lightning-speed downloads for your smartphones, and faster speeds for your favorite streaming videos, 5G is expected to help the growth and adoption of other cutting-edge technologies such as connected cars, drones, industrial robots, AR/VR, medicine, and next-gen supply chains.   Indeed, the power and potential of 5G and its role in giving the United States a competitive edge is such that it is a national security asset… one that the U.S. government is aggressively moving to protect from security vulnerabilities and cyber attacks especially from 5G rival and geopolitical nemesis, China — while pushing our allies to do the same. I have a wonderful guest here today to talk about what the U.S. government is doing to protect global 5G technology.  Rob Strayer is former Ambassador for cyber policy at the U.S. State Department and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.  Strayer is now a technology executive at the Information Technology Industry Council, representing 80 of the most innovative tech companies in markets around the globe.   While at the State Department, he led the development of U.S. foreign policy on a wide range of technology policy issues, including privacy, data protection, artificial intelligence, technical standards, cybersecurity, and 5G supply chain security. He also led the negotiations with foreign governments on these pressing issues and had a birds eye view of how U.S. and its allies are on a race to protect global 5G infrastructure from cyber attacks from China and other potential bad actors. Read the Transcript Download the PDF Chitra Ragavan: The world’s wireless systems are going through a major technology transformation through 5th-generation cellular networks, known as 5G for short. In addition to lightening-speed downloads for your smartphones and faster speeds for your favorite streaming videos, 5G is expected to help the growth and adoption of other cutting-edge technologies like connected cars, drones, industrial robots, AR, VR, medicine, and next-gen supply chains. Indeed, the power and potential of 5G and its role in giving the United States a competitive edge is such that it is a national security asset, one that the US government is aggressively moving to protect from security vulnerabilities and cyber attacks, especially from 5G rival and geopolitical nemesis, China, while pushing our allies to do the same. Chitra Ragavan: Hello, everyone. I’m Chitra Ragavan and this is Techtopia. Here to talk about what the US government is doing to protect global 5G technology is Rob Strayer. He’s a former US State Department Ambassador and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State. Strayer is now a technology executive at the Information Technology Industry Council representing 80 of the most innovative tech companies and markets around the globe. While at the State Department, he led the development of US foreign policy on a wide range of technology policy issues, including privacy, data protection, artificial intelligence, technical standards, cybersecurity, and 5G supply chain security. He also led the negotiations with foreign governments about these issues. Rob, welcome to Techtopia. Rob Strayer: Pleasure to be with you. Chitra Ragavan: For those of us who are not entirely familiar with the power and potential of 5G, what are these 5G networks and why are they so transformative? Rob Strayer: 5G is the natural evolution from what had been earlier generations of 2G, 3G, and 4G, each of which had expanded capabilities for wireless telecommunications. With 5G, we’re seeing, as you said in the opening, increased amount of throughput of data in the network but also something called ultra liability and low latency, that is, the time it takes for a device to connect to the network and then receive information back from the network. So we all think of that typically on our desktops as the time it takes to receive information from an internet website. A huge transformation in 5G will be that, whereas in 4G and earlier generations, we thought of it as the ability to text on our phones, or in 4G, the killer app was the ability to download internet webpages onto our smartphone devices. With 5G, it will be much more about the ability for machines and other devices to connect directly with each other without coming to our personal 5G wireless device. There’ll be all kinds of other internet of things devices being connected on these 5G networks. Chitra Ragavan: And it’s fascinating. I was reading that these technical ground rules that define how cellular networks work and how computer chips and radio signals handle and exchange data, I guess a lot of these telecom companies come together and agree on these rules every 10 years. So it is a pretty big deal, isn’t it? Rob Strayer: Yeah, it almost occurred on a regular basis every 10 years. There’s a massive amount of effort that goes into setting these standards. There’s something called the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, which the 3rd Generation name was actually set up for 3G, but that same consortium of standards bodies that are representing both governments and private sector entities ranging from telecom operators, think about the carriers, but also the equipment makers for all parts of the network are all involved in the establishment of these standards. So we now have standards for 5G, and eventually we’ll have in probably less than a decade, standards for 6G. Chitra Ragavan: And the US government auctioned off the wireless spectrum to make this happen. It’s auctioned it off to companies like Verizon and AT&T and other telecom companies to make this happen. So where are we in the proliferation of 5G in the US to date, and what has been the impact? Rob Strayer: Just focusing first on the importance of spectrum. Spectrum really does enable telecommunications devices and additional devices to be on networks, more data to be transmitted. Even as it

Ep. 17 — The Global Race to Secure 5G Networks Against Cyber Threats from China and other Geopolitical Adversaries / Rob Strayer, EVP, Information Technology Industry Council & Former Ambassador for Cyber Policy at U.S. State Department. Read More »

Ep. 16 — The Abracadabra of the FDA’s Surprise Approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug, Aduhelm / Dr. Robert Pearl, Physician, Author, Podcast Co-Host, “Fixing Healthcare,” & Joanne Silberner, Freelance Health and Science Journalist.

https://media.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/ins.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/Techtopia_16_RD1.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Email | RSS Ever since the disease was recognized more than 100 years ago, patients with Alzheimer’s, and their families and caregivers, have longed for an effective drug for this brutal and tragic disease. But last month, when the Food and Drug Administration finally approved a drug named Aduhelm for use as the first Alzheimer’s drug in 18 years, there was little rejoicing. Instead — a big uproar from critics both outside and inside the FDA who say that there’s no clear evidence that Aduhelm has any benefits. And, that it could actually have serious side effects including brain bleeding. And at $56,000 a year per patient and counting, they say it not only will break patients and their families but also stress Medicare — federal health care for the elderly and disabled — to the utmost. Today, I have invited two wonderful guests to help us understand what just happened at the FDA, the implications, the fallout, and what happens next. Dr. Robert Pearl is the former CEO of the nation’s largest medical group, Kaiser Permanente. A Forbes Health Contributor, Dr. Pearl’s latest book is titled, “Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patients,” the proceeds of which go to Doctors without Borders. Dr. Pearl also co-hosts the popular podcasts Fixing Healthcare and Coronavirus: The Truth. Also joining me is my very dear friend and former NPR colleague, the award-winning health and science writer, Joanne Silberner.  She’s currently a freelance journalist living in Seattle. Silberner has covered the FDA for decades while at US News & World Report and at NPR — where she worked for 18 years. Joanne has written a piece on how Aduhelm came to be approved — published last week in the online media outlet STAT+ — and it’s a fascinating look at how the FDA responds to pressure from drug companies and patient groups, very relevant for this story. Read the Transcript Download the PDF Chitra Ragavan: Ever since the disease was recognized more than 100 years ago, patients with Alzheimer’s, and their families and caregivers have longed for an effective drug for this brutal, and tragic disease. But last month when the FDA finally approved a drug named Aduhelm, for use as the first Alzheimer’s drug in 18 years, there was little rejoicing. Chitra Ragavan: Instead, a big uproar from critics both outside and inside the FDA, who say that there’s no clear evidence that the drug has any benefits, and that it could actually have serious side effects, including brain bleeding. And at $56,000 a year per patient and counting, they say, “It not only will break patients and their families, but stress Medicare to the brink.” That’s the federal health care for the elderly and disabled. Chitra Ragavan: Hello, everyone. I’m Chitra Ragavan, and this is Techtopia. Today I’ve invited two wonderful guests to help us understand what just happened at the FDA, the implications, the fallout, and what happens next. Dr. Robert Pearl is the former CEO of the nation’s largest Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente. Chitra Ragavan: His latest book is called, Uncaring: How the Culture of Medicine Kills Doctors and Patient, the proceeds of the book go to Doctors Without Borders. Dr. Pearl also co-hosts with Jeremy Corr, who happens to be my wonderful executive producer, the popular podcasts, Fixing Healthcare and Coronavirus, The truth. Chitra Ragavan: Also joining me is my very dear friend and former colleague, the award winning health and science writer, Joanne Silberner, she is currently a freelance journalist living in Seattle. Silberner has covered the FDA for decades while at the US News and World Report, and an NPR where she worked for 18 years. Chitra Ragavan: Joanne has written a piece on how Aduhelm came to be approved, published today in the online media outlet, STAT+, and it’s a fascinating look at how the FDA responds to pressure from drug companies and patient groups, very relevant for this story. Dr. Pearl and Joanne, welcome to Techtopia. Joanne Silberner: Thank you. Dr. Robert Pearl: It’s a pleasure to be here, thank you for hosting. Chitra Ragavan: Dr. Pearl, this disease, what makes it so terrible, and why has there been no drug for 18 years? Dr. Robert Pearl: This is a terrible problem, it accounts for 60% of dementia cases, currently affects over 6 million Americans, and likely to increase in the future with the aging of the population. Once diagnosed, it has about a three to nine year life expectancy, which is a significant decrease, and in all depends upon at what age you develop the symptoms. Dr. Robert Pearl: What you see is progressive memory loss, it begins short term, and often is hard to differentiate from the type of memory difficulties older people can have, but it then progresses to the point where the individual becomes unable to even remember events from long in the past, or take care of themselves. Dr. Robert Pearl: And I think the real terribleness of this disease, why people are so afraid of it is that you lose complete control. I mean, the fact that as your memory goes away, you don’t realize it’s going away, it puts you totally dependent upon others, inflicts hardships on families, inflicts problems on the society overall. Dr. Robert Pearl: So this is a terrible problem needing an answer, the challenges scientists still don’t fully understand its origin. What we do know is that in a large number of patients, there’s a protein called amyloid beta that accumulates, and it’s felt that this may interfere with the brain functioning. Dr. Robert Pearl: The challenge, of course, is that there are some people who develop Alzheimer’s disease without having these brain plaques, and there are other people who have brain plaques that can be identified, on various radiologic studies that don’t have Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Robert Pearl: So no drugs are there because we haven’t

Ep. 16 — The Abracadabra of the FDA’s Surprise Approval of Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug, Aduhelm / Dr. Robert Pearl, Physician, Author, Podcast Co-Host, “Fixing Healthcare,” & Joanne Silberner, Freelance Health and Science Journalist. Read More »

Ep. 15 — This sports startup is transforming the world of track and field data analytics for athletes, coaches, and fans / Chris Williams, Founder, and CEO, Zelos.

https://media.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/ins.blubrry.com/techtopiawithchitraragavan/Techtopia_15_RD1.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Email | RSS For decades, like in many other sports, track and field athletes and coaches have been stymied by their inability to easily use analytics to help athletes reach their highest potential, with their performance data trapped largely in paper silos. In the lead-up to the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Seattle-based startup Zelos has integrated roughly 20 million track and field records dating back 50 years, into its data analytics platform to generate powerful, predictive insights into the world’s oldest and most popular sport. COVID-19 has changed all aspects of life, work, and careers, especially for athletes who haven’t been able to travel, train, and perform at their peak. The impact of the crisis will be acutely felt at the Olympics this week (rescheduled from last Summer because of COVID) as these athletes learn whether their can-do attitudes and flexible, often improvised training over the past year due to the pandemic, will affect their performance as they take their places among their peers to compete for those hard-fought medals. The pandemic also has forced sports startups to adapt along with these athletes and to become nimble in challenging times as the pandemic shut down sporting events around the globe. I’m joined by Chris Williams, founder, and CEO of Zelos to talk about his journey building Zelos through the pandemic and how it’s made him and his startup more resilient and adaptive. Williams is a former pole vaulter and hurdler at the University of Washington. And he frequently writes and speaks about his experience as a former NCAA athlete and a data engineer. I should add by of disclosure that I’m on Zelos’s advisory board. Read the Transcript Download the PDF Chitra Ragavan: COVID-19 has changed all aspects of life, work, and careers, especially for athletes who haven’t been able to travel, train and perform at their peak. The impact of the crisis will be acutely felt at the Tokyo Summer Olympics this week, rescheduled from last summer because of COVID. As these athletes learn what their can-do attitudes and flexible, often improvised training over the past year due to the pandemic will affect their performance as they take their places among their peers to compete for those hard-fought medals. Hello, everyone. I’m Chitra Ragavan and this is Techtopia. The pandemic also has forced sports startups to adapt along with these athletes to become nimble in challenging times as the pandemic shut down sporting events around the globe. I’m joined now by Chris Williams, founder and CEO of the Seattle-based sports data analytics startup, Zelos, which is taking track and field analytics to a whole new level for athletes, coaches, and fans. Chitra Ragavan: Williams is a formal pole vaulter and hurdler at the University of Washington. And he frequently writes and speaks about his experience as a former NCAA athlete and a data engineer. And I should add by way of disclosure that I’m on Zelos’ advisory board. Chris, welcome to Techtopia. Chris Williams: Thank you Chitra. It’s great to be here. Chitra Ragavan: So tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a pole vaulter and hurdler, and what drew you to the sport. Chris Williams: Yeah, so to know me is, you’re relative to know my family and I come from a track and field family. So my sister ran track and field. My father was a hurdler as well. Both of my cousins, plenty of aunts and uncles competed in the sport. I would go to their meets, they would come to my own, and growing up, my biggest sports idol was my sister. And so I would go to all of her track meets and I’d follow not just her, but all of her competitors too. And from the hours I spent at these track meets, I grew an affinity to it. And one day my dad said, okay son, know you played a few sports, but now’s the time to really think of something to stick with and you want to do throughout your high school career. Chris Williams: So for me, that was a pole vault. Something about the pole vault just captured my imagination and my dad, a little surprised to hear that that was the sport I chose was all aboard. And we clearly remember driving to Home Depot to get my first pole vaulting poles. And my first pole vaulting pole was actually a wooden dowel. We wrapped it with red tape and I used that for a couple of years while learning the sport. And since then, the sports afforded me a scholarship at the University of Washington. I’ve been able to travel and compete around the world. And looking back at my career, the sport in general, the opportunities it provides, and the skills you learn within it, really every day is what keeps me going and excited to build applications for the track community and then other athletes. Chitra Ragavan: So, and I have to add just hearing some of your stories that your entire family is still crazy competitive even today with the exercise and fitness and it’s pretty crazy, isn’t it? Chris Williams: Yeah. So I come from an incredibly competitive family and my sister just gave birth a few weeks ago actually, just over two weeks ago and, but several months ago she was seven, eight months pregnant every day, looking at our apple watch, trying to compete with me, my dad on, on the Peloton bike two or three times a day. My dad, as well is extremely competitive, loves to hike, track his performance and his apple watch. And that undoubtedly has rubbed off on me and is also a huge driver of the value I see in pretty transparency and accessible ways to find competitors and open up avenues for your own goal setting. Chitra Ragavan: So how did you pivot from athletics to data analytics?

Ep. 15 — This sports startup is transforming the world of track and field data analytics for athletes, coaches, and fans / Chris Williams, Founder, and CEO, Zelos. Read More »