Eric Rasmussen, MD, MDM, FACP is the CEO of Infinitum Humanitarian Systems in Seattle, Washington. He is an internal medicine physician with both undergraduate and medical degrees from Stanford University and a European Master’s degree in disaster medicine from the UN World Health Organization’s affiliate CEMEC (Centre European pour la Medecin des Catastrophes) in Italy. He was elected a Fellow of the American College of Physicians in 1997 and a Fellow of the Explorer's Club in 2014.
He served in the US Navy for 25 years aboard nuclear submarines, amphibious ships, and aircraft carriers. His positions included Joint Task Force Surgeon (Forward) for the Hurricane Katrina response, Team Lead for the Banda Aceh Tsunami Response from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Fleet Surgeon for the US Navy’s Third Fleet, director of an Intensive Care Unit, and Chairman of an academic department of medicine in Seattle. His wartime deployments included Bosnia three times, Afghanistan twice, and Iraq for nine months.
While in uniform Dr. Rasmussen was selected as a Principle Investigator by DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. His work led to his selection as Principal Investigator of the Year in 2003.
After retiring from the Navy he was appointed the Founding CEO for the TED Prize awarded to Dr. Larry Brilliant, then Executive Director of Google.org.
In addition to his current work in Ukraine, Yemen, the Marshall Islands, and the Yucatan rainforest, Rasmussen also leads the Global Disaster Response Team for the Roddenberry Foundation, supported by the Star Trek franchise. That team has deployed to Supertyphoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Nepal earthquake, Hurricane Mathew in Haiti, and three times to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Rasmussen is a Senior Fellow at The Atlantic Council, at the Stimson Center, and at the Institute for Human-Machine Cognition, and he’s been a member of the US National Academy of Science’s Committee on Grand Challenges in Global Development since 2012.
The concept of a universal biometric identity is fraught with Western concerns about individual privacy, and rightly so. For those with no recognized identity at all, however, being acknowledged as “alive" is an important step toward safety, security, and upward mobility. In this talk, I discuss real-world examples of the costs of being “invisible" and some biometric options that seem to be working to reduce the exploitation, trafficking, and slavery of those living in the shadows.
The advent of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was a tragedy of significant proportions. Like any complex event, however, there were lessons to be learned and new directions to explore in ensuring we could not be quite so surprised next time. In this talk, I describe a few of the many advances we made in science, technology, and policy during this outbreak, with particular attention to a basic science discovery that may help us understand far broader biological paradigms.
Building resilience against natural disasters, climate change, and security risks is increasingly important and exponential technologies are providing an opportunity to build more resilient systems as well as create new solutions to quickly recover when disasters occur. Recent disasters such as serial hurricanes that struck the US and Caribbean in 2017 give us new insight into how innovative thinkers are building solutions to help speed recovery and in some cases leapfrog their communities into the future.