Swiss Re Institute Symposium Boston - The impact of technology on the risk and insurance landscape

28 and 29 November 2017

Location: Boston, USA



It took decades for humans to unleash the potential of the electricity in the first machine age. Initially, electrical engines were simply substituted for steam ones, with no understanding of the advantages that the new technology afforded. In the first wave of the second machine age, machines were taught to do what humans could do – codify knowledge. Now machines can learn and solve problems based on experience, also known as deep learning, rather than just follow instructions. The biggest advances have been in three broad areas: perception, cognition and interaction with physical work.

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Presentations Day 1


Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Boston, MA

Event moderation: Susan Kish, Executive-in-Residence, Excel Venture Management

5:00 pm

Registration and welcome drinks

5:30 pm

Opening remarks
Eric Smith, President and CEO, Swiss Re Americas

5:35 pm

The Swiss Re Institute
Jeffrey Bohn, Director Swiss Re Institute

5:45 pm

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future
Followed by a discussion on HI + AI: What's the future of intelligence?
Can the collaboration of human intelligence (HI) and artificial intelligence (AI) lead to exponential productivity or are they in competition?

Erik Brynjolfsson, Director, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and Professor, MIT Sloan School

7:00 pm

Reception followed by dinner
Networking dinner accompanied by various virtual reality experiences and a demo from AI-company Neurala which develops deep learning neural network software that mimics how the human brain works

9:30 pm

End of day 1

Complimentary transfer to the Royal Sonesta Boston for participants staying at the hotel

This event may be photographed, filmed and/ or recorded. A summary of the event, pictures and/or a video of the event in which you may appear may be posted and made available on Swiss Re’s and the Swiss Re Institute's internal and external websites and in printed materials.

Presentations Day 2


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Norton's Woods Conference Center at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Cambridge, MA

Event moderation: Jeffrey Bohn, Director Swiss Re Institute

8:15 am

Registration and welcome breakfast

Visit market stands before the program starts

9:00 am

Welcome and introduction
Jeffrey Bohn, Director Swiss Re Institute

9:05 am

Keynote 1: Behavioral economics
Human psychology and the internet age

George Loewenstein, Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

Alison McLean, Head of Behavioral Research, Swiss Re

10:00 am

Breakout sessions

  • Blockchain and the B3i initiative
    A number of insurance companies have recently organized themselves into a consortium called B3i with the goal to improve the efficiency of the industry. But will it really cause disruption? And what does a solution on blockchain look like? We will provide an update on how blockchain is evolving in the insurance industry and show a live demo of a blockchain solution.

    Kamesh Raghavendra, Vice President, The Hive

    Moderated by Jayne Olsen, Head Digital & Smart Analytics Americas, Swiss Re
  • Digital distribution
    How can Insurtechs leverage the existing expertise of insurance companies and how can existing insurance companies tap into the strengths of Insurtechs? We will explore front end disruption potential, the pitfalls that prevent it today and how to overcome them.

    Guy Fraker, Chief Innovation Officer, Insurance Thought Leadership

    Moderated by Keith Wolfe, President US P&C Regional & National, Swiss Re
  • Rethinking the value of data - What's your API and data strategy?
    Leveraging external data in the insurance industry: How can the sum of small web-based signals be aggregated to produce stronger predictions than industry leading analysts? We will learn how leading hedge funds price, predict, and forecast trends using novel machine learning strategies and toolkits.

    Matt Stack, Managing Director, XLP Capital
    Moderated by Pascal Marmier, Head SRI Engagement Americas, Swiss Re Institute
  • Resilient communities and the protection gap
    In 2017, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, the Mexico Earthquakes and the California Fire have reminded us that severe events disrupt and destroy lives. Between 1991 and 2016, insured losses grew by 4.6% per year but economic losses by 5.6% per year. The delta between economic losses and insured losses, the protection gap, continues to widen. What is causing this widening gap? What role can the insurance industry play? How can public entities and private companies collaborate? How can innovation and technology be applied to improving resilience? Join us to hear experts from MIT, Wharton and Swiss Re share their thoughts on the topic.

    Thomas Holzheu, Regional Chief Economist Americas, Swiss Re
    Carolyn Kousky, Director of Policy Research and Engagement, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center
    Jessika Trancik, Associate Professor of Energy Studies, MIT
    Moderated by Monica Ningen, Head Property Underwriting US & Canada, Swiss Re
  • Food as medicine
    How can insurance companies, worksites, and governments leverage diet and lifestyle to improve cardiometabolic health? We will discuss the newest evidence on why food is so critical to reduce disease, deaths, and health costs; separate fact from fiction on what constitutes a healthy diet; and describe actionable, cost-effective measures and solutions for behavior change.

    Dariush Mozaffarian, Professor of Nutrition and Dean, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy
    Moderated by Christoph Nabholz, Head R&D Life & Health, Swiss R

11:00 am

Networking break

Visit market stands during the break

11:30 am

Keynote 2: Cyber security
Cracking hacking: Understanding cyber in the digital age
Elisabeth Pate-Cornell, Professor of Engineering, Stanford University
Jayne Olsen, Head Digital & Smart Analytics Americas, Swiss Re

12:20 pm


Visit market stands during lunch

1:30 pm

Interactive workshops

  • Prototyping lab
    Recent advances in artificial intelligence have dramatically increased the capabilities of chatbots. After an introduction into the topic, participants get to build and train their own chatbot prototype using the API.AI platform.

    Jayne Olsen, Head Digital & Smart Analytics Americas, Swiss Re
    Christian Klose, Senior Analytics Professional, Swiss Re
    Boyi Xie, Senior Analytics Professional, Swiss Re

  • Creative thinking in action
    What are the ideas and methodologies that will revolutionize the insurance industry? In this session participants will get a crash course in design thinking and experience how Swiss Re is applying this methodology to tackle our biggest challenges.

    Jason Goodwin, Director of Innovation Practice & Enablement at LOFT: Lab of Forward of Thinking, Manulife/John Hancock
    Jillian Badanes, Analytics Consultant, Swiss Re
    Shelly Habecker, Consumer Content & Engagement Specialist, Swiss Re

  • Exploring health data: From wearables to personalized insights and engagement
    Participants get to examine the broader ecosystem of wearables and investigate the personalized insights and on-going engagement opportunities, while working through examples of how this technology could deliver better client experiences in insurance.

    Andreas Caduff, CEO, Biovotion
    David Wang, Co-Founder and CEO, Striiv
    JJ Lane Carroll, Head New Solutions Group Strategy D&R, Swiss Re

  • Master class: The future of work and leadership in the digital age
    For business leaders, digital technologies may mean that much of their hard-won expertise and experience is unfortunately now a sunk cost. Through case studies and interactive activities, participants experience first-hand how to start their learning journey to acquire new digital leadership skills such as ambidexterity, acuity and agility.

    Michael Davies, Founder and Chairman, Endeavour Partners; Senior Lecturer, MIT

    Remo Steinmetz, Head Client Executive Programmes, Swiss Re Institute

3:00 pm

Keynote 3: Health and genetics
What are the promises and challenges of genetic modification?
Neville Sanjana, Core Faculty Member, New York Genome Center; Assistant Professor of Biology, Neuroscience and Physiology, New York University

Daniel Ryan, Head SRI Research, Swiss Re Institute

3:50 pm

John Dacey, Group Chief Strategy Officer, Swiss Re; Chairman, Swiss Re Institute

4:00 pm

End of event

4:15 pm

Complimentary transfers to Harvard Square, Kendall Square and Royal Sonesta Boston, and Boston Logan International Airport

This event may be photographed, filmed and/ or recorded. A summary of the event, pictures and/or a video of the event in which you may appear may be posted and made available on Swiss Re’s and the Swiss Re Institute's internal and external websites and in printed materials.


Photos by: Andy Castaldi

About the event

We live in an age of exponential change. It impacts how we view the world, how we navigate our space, how we interact with our environment, how we understand ourselves. That change could be the increasing prevalence of artificial intelligence; it could be gene editing technology; it could be blockchain. The risks related to these technologies are no longer abstract, they are quantifiable, can be modelled and are available in real time.

The Swiss Re Institute is the bold and challenging response of Swiss Re to our changing world of risk. The Institute will provide new structure and thinking to our management of risk and the risk of our clients. It was with great pleasure that we invite you to the first Swiss Re Institute Symposium on 28 and 29 November 2017 at WGBH in Boston and the Norton's Woods Conference Center at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge.

We discussed the most significant technologies and innovations in the field of risk management with leading global experts from within Swiss Re, and prominent academic researchers from their specialist fields such as George Loewenstein, American educator and economist from Carnegie Mellon University, Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy, and Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, expert in engineering risk analysis from Stanford University.

Through a mix of keynote speeches, breakout sessions, interactive workshops, market stands and networking opportunities, the Swiss Re Institute Symposium spurred creative responses to the new world of risks we all face.

About the Swiss Re Institute

Launched in 2017, the Swiss Re Institute combines Swiss Re's powerful expertise with world class external research partners to deliver powerful insights on current and future issues affecting the re/insurance industry – and the world at large. See the Insitute's mandate and organisation.


Market stands

Before the conference began on 29 November and during the breaks, the following Swiss Re experts were available to present on a variety of topics at their market stands:

Digital & Smart Analytics Service
Applying big data, text analytics, machine learning, and visual analytics to generate insights and develop analytics solutions for Swiss Re and its clients.

Jillian Badanes, Analytics Consultant

Christian Klose, Senior Analytics Professional
Boyi Xie, Senior Analytics Professional

Catastrophes and Perils
Providing unique and versatile expertise in natural catastrophe science, engineering, insurance and risk.

Andrew Castaldi, Head Cat Perils Americas Hub
Marla Schwartz, Atmospheric Perils Specialist

Casualty R&D
Showcasing Swiss Re’s cutting edge approach to cost liability business.

Nikita Kuksin, Head Casualty Model Development US

Life & Health R&D
Applying behavioral economics and health trend & modelling to provide unique forward-looking R&D insights.

Yommy Chiu, Head Life & Health R&D Americas
Alison McLean, Head of Behavioural Research
Allison Varley Lee, Behavioural Research Consultant
Alexa Wiese, Behavioural Research Consultant

Swiss Re Institute
Combining Swiss Re expertise together with world-class research partners to create impactful insights.

Thomas Holzheu, Regional Chief Economist Americas
Fernando Casanova Aizpun, Economist

provides unique forward looking R&D insights provides unique forward looking R&D insights