Melbourne gets a Region, a big trip, and a brain mapping startup

Melbourne skyline

Innovation is limitless. Great ideas (and of course great engineering) are not bound by geography or the lines on a map. They can come from anywhere at any time. That’s why it’s very important to us at AWS to roll out features and services globally. We want developers, entrepreneurs, startups and companies to all have access to world-class cloud technologies, regardless of where they are. Today I am pleased to announce the new AWS Asia Pacific (Melbourne) region.

Melbourne is our first region of the new year, our second region in Australia, bringing our total to 31 regions and 99 Availability Zones worldwide. This is also where I start my first big trip of the year (don’t worry Sydney, we’ll see you too). While I’m down, I’ll be giving a few talks. I have included registration information at the end of this post for those of you who are interested.

Personal maps of the human brain

An area of ​​particular interest to me is the intersection of healthcare and cloud services. When we launched the AWS Europe (Spain) region, I wrote briefly about HumanITcare. Here in Australia I will focus on Omniscient Neurotechnology (o8t). A company that has built a brain mapping platform that has the potential to revolutionize neurosurgery, as well as the way we diagnose and treat neurological and mental disorders.

We have been studying the human brain for centuries. Its structure and chemistry. Hypothesized how different areas of the brain regulate cognition, movement and language. But until very recently (see the Human Connectome Project), we haven’t had the tools or computing power to really understand how the brain and nervous system are connected and interact with each other to produce behavior and cognition (also known as Connectomics). Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer of Omniscient, Dr. Michael Sughrue, often sums it up with a quote from Emerson Pugh: “If the brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t.”

Each brain is wired slightly differently, and each brain scan produces more than a billion data points. It would be impossible even for the smartest and most well-trained neurosurgeons and neuroscientists to analyze this amount of data. However, it is a problem space uniquely suited to computers. Using existing brain imaging technology, like MRIs, in conjunction with machine learning models and cloud services like EC2 and Aurora, Omniscient can produce personalized brain maps for patients that show not only how their brain is shaped and structured, but where the connections are and how they are grouped.

Tractographic image of the brain

Today, surgeons use this technology to diagnose, plan and operate on patients with greater precision. Researchers are using this technology to test treatments for depression, sleep disorders and other neurological conditions. This is only possible because of the cloud, and it’s a testament that nothing, especially not borders, can hold back a great idea.

Something fun with generative AI

While working through a little bit of writer’s block, I decided to use ChatGPT to help me come up with titles for this post. I didn’t end up using any, but these were nifty.

A few funny ways to say "A trip to Australia" 

1. An Outback hootenanny
2. A Kangaroo-fari
3. A Wallaby Wander-lust
4. A Down Under jaunt
5. An Aussie Adventure 
6. A Sydney Safari 
7. A Kakadu Jamboree
8. A Great Barrier Breakaway 
9. A Crocodile Craze
10. A Koala Cruise

On the way in Melbourne and Sydney

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I have a few speaking events lined up for my Aussie adventure. In Melbourne I will talk about innovation at Amazon over the years. In Sydney I will cover my technical predictions for 2023 and beyond. If you are interested, you can use the links below to register.

For those of you who can’t make it, I hope to share some of the highlights from my trip over the next few weeks. As always – now you have to build!


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