By Allison Pennington, Communications Intern, Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship
On February 20, 2016, Wake Forest University hosted its fifth annual TEDxWakeForestU event. The theme of this year’s conference, Haven: Fearlessness Reimagined, captured speakers’ unique perspectives on what it means to find security and solace. Over 1,300 students, faculty, and community members gathered in Wait Chapel to hear eight inspirational speakers talk about security as it related to each of their fields of expertise. Highlights from the eight inspirational talks are below:
The Ubiquity of Knowledge and Data – Who’s Securing It?
Mark Hurd, the chief executive officer of Oracle Corporation, took the stage first to share his thoughts on what is going on in the IT world and what each person can individually do to protect their data. Hurd estimated that one half of all data in the world was created in the last 44 months, adding that by 2020, the amount of digital information stored online could double. These statistics, he explained, beg the question: Are we secure? While large corporations do work hard to protect your data, Hurd explained that the most important advice he could give to the audience was to think before you post. “You need to decide what you want to put out there in the public domain,” he explained. “There’s no technological trick we have to protect you like personal decision making.”
State of Emergency: Moving Up Maslow
Katrena Perou, the second speaker of the afternoon, is the chief program officer at Urban Arts Partnership, a nonprofit that works to advance the intellectual, social, and artistic development of underprivileged public school students. Perou, who started the partnership at Samuel Gompers High School in South Bronx, New York, compared the students’ feelings that they were not being heard and would just end up dead or in prison to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need: “With everything these students were facing, going to the program didn’t matter. They were just trying to make it through the day,” she explained. Perou added that by listening to a CD of songs that students at the high school had created, particularly a song called “State of Emergency,” she learned to gain their respect by trusting them and making sure their voices were heard.
Real Progress in the Fight to End Modern Slavery
Bradley Myles, the executive director and chief executive officer of the Polaris Project, spoke next about his organization’s fight to eradicate modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The Polaris Project, which has responded to over 22,000 human trafficking cases since its establishment in 2008, seeks to disrupt trafficking networks, restore freedom to current victims, and prevent future victims. Myles explained that human trafficking is so prevalent today because traffickers can make a large profit with a very low risk of being caught. As a result, many victims feel abandoned. Myles quoted trafficking survivors who regularly tell Polaris volunteers that they “had given up on their lives” and “didn’t know anyone cared.” By implementing a national hotline for trafficking victims, Myles and his team hope to leverage information technology to create a modern-day Underground Railroad.
Local Economic Security: Think Childhood Hunger
Maureen Berner, a professor of Public Administration and Government at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, spoke to the audience about why hunger is an economic development issue. Berner, whose research focuses on finding long-term solutions to food scarcity, explained that over 851,000 children in the North Carolina public school system qualify for free or reduced lunch. When you look at the statistics, they show that there is a $2.7 million per day missed economic opportunity in providing meals for these children. By creating a public-private partnership through local partner businesses and the government, Berner explained that feeding hungry children could create more local jobs, better markets, and a stronger workforce. Berner ended her talk on a powerful note by explaining: “I want to feed 850,000 more kids and you all need to help me!”
Confronting Loss: Reverence and Resilience at the 9/11 Memorial Museum
Carl Krebs, the fifth speaker of the afternoon, is a partner at Davis Brody Bond, the associate architectural firm responsible for designing the memorial and museum to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Krebs, who was one of the chief architects on this project, spoke to the audience about the design team’s decision to include pieces of the original materials from leftover rubble as part of their design. Krebs explained that the memorial and museum do not include much reading or information; instead, there are photos and objects that preserve the raw authentic reaction that the entire country felt after 9/11. “There is a way to connect to artifacts without over-intellectualizing them,” Krebs explained. The museum also includes a space for visitors to stop and remember where they were on 9/11. Krebs explained that although the memorial does represent a site of remembrance, the architects’ hope is that it is also one of resilience, rebuilding, and faith.
Evolving Computer Defenses
Erinn Fulp, Wake Forest’s very own professor of Computer Science, researches network security system solutions that are inspired by nature. His research suggests that in instances where traditional approaches to security do not suffice, nature may offer a new solution. Fireflies, for example, can illuminate together in unison; this model is attractive to power grid managers who want to learn from their efficiency. Similarly, biology-inspired approaches also mimic the designs of ant colonies and the human genome to build security solutions that reduce the level of human involvement in problem detection and resolution. Nature, according to Fulp, teaches us that evolution can be a solution to creating secure systems: “Mistakes are cool,” he explained, and they help us build scalable solutions with optimal results and better protected data. “You’ve been hacked. I’ve been hacked. If you haven’t been hacked, I’ll hack you later,” Fulp joked during his talk, but with a biology-inspired approach, we can leverage the inspiration found in the natural world to deliver more efficient methods of cyber security.
Migration in Europe and Human Security: A Challenge to Solidarity
Ignacio Packer, the Secretary General of the Terres Des Hommes International Federation (TDHIF), a network that works to promote the rights of children and their equitable development, spoke next about patterns of migration across Europe and how they relate to human security, especially children. “Which of you is not a migrant?” asked Packer, explaining that migrant rights is a human rights issue. Globally, 60 million people were displaced in 2015, and 1 in 2 was a child. Migration is not a security problem, explained Packer. Instead, the problem is the exclusion of people from accessible migration. TDHIF works to renew public understanding about migration and advocate for a safe and dignified international migration system. “We have choices to make as a society,” explained Packer. “We are at a tipping point. We can build bridges, or we can build fences, prisons and walls.”
All Gun Violence is Preventable If You Know the Signs
Nicole Hockley, the founder and managing director of the Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit working to end gun-related deaths, began her talk by breaking down what “gun violence prevention” really means. In Hockley’s opinion, it doesn’t mean looking at only one aspect, but instead looking at the entire problem: guns and mental health and gun safety. Approximately 7 children die each day due to gun-related violence. In 2012, Hockley experienced this statistic herself as her six year old son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting. Yet even in the midst of her grief, Hockley chose to be hopeful, not helpless. Through their nonprofit, Sandy Hook Promise, Hockley and her colleagues hope to teach others how to recognize at-risk people in order to avert other gun violence tragedies. “The list of tragedies that could be avoided is endless,” Hockley explained. “We just need to know the signs, act on them, and prevent the next domino from falling.”
This year’s successful TEDxWakeForestU conference was organized by the following students:
Austin Evers (’16), Executive Director
Daniel Guerrero (’16), Assistant Director
Julia Gaburo (’16), Engagement Director
Carl Turner (’17), Talent Director
Katherine Albanese (’16), Hospitality Director
Anne Biermann (’16), Event Support Director
Philipp Wendler (’18), Operations and Logistics Director
Daniel Sechtin (’16), Emcee
Caroline Burden (’16), Stage Manager
For more information about TEDxWakeForestU, visit their website here.
All photos are credited to Adrian Martino (’16).