Escaping from the Sunken Place: Innovation, Privacy, and Security in Our World with Roxann Stafford

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Junior delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” address, a discussion of global conflict, in which he clearly connected the consequences of a shift from a “thing-oriented society” to a “person-oriented society.” Fifty years later, Jordan Peele directed the film “Get Out,” a social horror commentary that probes both the deep history of racism in America and what is at stake when people literally become things – host bodies for cultural appropriation. Today, more and more of us feel trapped in what Peele calls “the Sunken Place,” with no place to go but free-fall in suspended animation. This is nowhere more true than in innovation and entrepreneurship communities where the new products and services being created do not reflect our world and the challenges that we face. This event will be an interactive conversation where we explore together how our innovation economy can and must address the “giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism” of which Dr. King warned. How can human-centered design be truly about our humanity? What roles can data and design thinking play in addressing the wrongs of the past and preventing future wrongs?

Roxann Stafford is the Director of Program (NYC) for Matter, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm grounded in design thinking that supports early-stage media entrepreneurs and institutions that work for a more informed, inclusive, and empathetic society. She has worked with the National Day of Civic Hacking, Let Girls Learn, Black Girls Code, the United State of Women Inaugural Summit, and the Obama White House Open Innovation Summit. She is an NPR tech innovator and commentator on diversity, inclusion, and innovation.

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