Consequences for Ignoring Science and Technology – Corporate Boards and Other Leaders –
It may be the corporate boards are starting to get the message about the need to pay attention to science, technology and cybersecurity. According to an article in the June 30, 2014 WSJ: “Corporate Boards Race to Shore Up Cybersecurity.”
Perhaps the most telling part of the story is the following quote: “A longtime banker, media executive and leadership consultant, Mr. Czarnecki, 74 years old, said he and his peers aren’t always fluent in the technology of computer defenses. “Most people in this room have gray hair,” he said at the directors’ summit. “It’s like having someone who has never paid any attention to their health talk to a doctor.”
The quote could be rephrased: “A longtime banker, media executive and leadership consultant, Mr. Czarnecki, 74 years old, said he and his peers aren’t always fluent in the [revolution in molecular biology]. “Most people in this room have gray hair,” he said at the directors’ summit. “It’s like having someone who has never paid any attention to their health talk to a doctor.”
The molecular biology revolution is well underway. Dennis Paustenbach brought it up in 2008 at a DRI meeting, and I blogged about it then. But there is blissful ignorance among most boards, lawyers, futures representatives, trustees of asbestos trusts, and judges. Therefore, there can be and are more or less accidental discoveries of additional possible causes of mesothelioma, such as the new paper on mesotheliomas and vinylidene chloride (think Saran wrap), as described in the first post of this morning here on GlobalTort. Meanwhile, researchers are pushing forward on the role of the BAP1 mutation in mesothelioma, with a paper two weeks ago providing plenty of grist for future arguments by plaintiff’s experts and lawyers, but not so much for defense experts and lawyers. Moreover, sober researchers and doctors are optimistic about soon significantly slowing mesothelioma deaths, and maybe even providing cures when the disease is found very early. Thus, last Friday, Dr. Farris Farassati shocked some lawyers with his molecular biology presentation at ACI’s asbestos conference – he spoke about precision medicine treatments for mesothelioma. And, today, groups such as the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation are non-partisan and run by smart researchers and physicians, instead of lawyers. There will be more or less cures – the real question is when, and how many will die before that day.
The molecular biology revolution matters far beyond asbestos. Think benzene cases tried or settled based on genetic markers. Think microRNA signatures for cellular injuries caused by tobacco smoke, cadmium and other substances. Also think about the Human Exposome project. Think “the next asbestos,” but then think that 3,500 annual mesotheliomas are a drop in the ocean when compared the vast numbers of cancers every year. As a result, the “next asbestos” could actually be 2x- 10x the size of asbestos.
Headlines today are prominent and frequent regarding cybersecurity breaches, fired CEOS, and related liability concerns. Heck, even the SEC went out of its way to sound a wake up call by holding a conference on cybersecurity. Or, think about GM and recalls, with the CEO claiming: “I did not know – no one told me.” Will your manufacturing company, insurance company, asbestos trust, or law firm become the subject of a future headline because little or no attention was paid to the ongoing revolution in molecular biology, and the world’s scientific knowledge?