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Track: Socially Conscious Software

Location: Seacliff ABC

Day of week: Tuesday

There is beautiful irony the phrase "Socially Conscious Software." Shouldn't all software be written with concern for its social and human implications? Evidently, this has not been the case. In the age of and AI everywhere, mass surveillance, predictive policing, “tech as a solution to everything”, and the severe implications on humanity, the question of who builds software and how is more critical than ever.

Can we imagine a world where "socially conscious software" is just software? Where technology that honors our collective humanity is the status quo rather than the outlier?  And how do we get there? Can we even dismantle the Master's house using the Master's tools? 

Hear from the radical technologists who are daring to imagine more just and hopeful futures in technology and join us in carrying them out.

Track Host: Alex Qin

Founder @codecooperative

Alex Qin is out here tryna get free. She cares about helping people fulfill the radical visions they have for themselves and the world while working towards more just and equitable futures. She has experience writing code, leading engineering teams, building communities, teaching, and advocating for underrepresented peoples in tech. These days, she spends her time learning, healing, giving love, and growing the Code Cooperative, a community of people who use and build technology to create life changing possibilities for individuals and communities impacted by incarceration.

10:35am - 11:25am

How Do We Heal?

We have been working to foster a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable tech industry for years. We have poured billions of dollars into data collection, new hiring practices, unconscious bias trainings, and educational opportunities for people from underrepresented backgrounds. But we have yet to see meaningful and lasting change.  

In the age of “tech as a solution to everything” and its severe implications on humanity, the issue of our industry and society’s homogenous and harmful culture is more critical than ever.  

A true shift in consciousness, in how we see each other and our relationships is needed to radically transform ourselves and our communities. One where we move from asking “How do we train and hire more people from X background?” and “How do we take the bad people down?” to “How do we be whole and free together?” and “How do we heal?”  

  • How do we heal our communities and our industry?
  • How do we heal our internalized racism, sexism, transphobia, and all our other harmful beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors?
  • How do we heal the harms that were done to us and the harms we have done to others?  

Drawing inspiration from restorative justice practices, the work of the Code Cooperative, and my own journey of healing, I offer a hopeful vision for how we can come together and co-create the world we yearn for.

Alex Qin, Founder @codecooperative

11:50am - 12:40pm

Holistic EdTech & Diversity

Software has become one of the most relied upon problem-solving tools. But like any tool, it's only as good as the problem solver. Antoine believes we need people who are experiencing life-altering problems (i.e., health, poverty, famines, mass incarceration, literacy, bullying, etc.) to help solve them. But of course, there needs to be a conscious effort to provide them with the tools and education needed to solve their own problems. This means we need to meet people where they are ethically, geographically, financially and most important, linguistically. 

Antoine will discuss how he is leveraging his unique experiences to help solve the problems of people with similar experiences.

Antoine Patton, Holistic Tech Coach @unlockacademy

1:40pm - 2:30pm

Metaphors We Create By

Come listen to the creator of controversial ineedawhiteguy.com discuss metaphor and its influence on social consciousness. Learn how well intentioned social efforts can perpetuate the very structures they claim to dismantle when the dismantlers are ignorant to the metaphorical topology of their ideologies. We’ll use this insight as a lens to explore ways to create in more socially conscious ways. 

Never before has this been explained in terms of that with such self and social consciousness. Jabari is going to give you the pitch of a lifetime and then get messy with metaphors containing ideas stolen from the likes of Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Žižek, and Ja Rule.

You’ll laugh, cry, and want to get the hell out of there.

Jabari Bell, Founder @getgiya

2:55pm - 3:45pm

Better Living through Software at The Human Utility

In this talk, Tiffani Bell, the founder and executive director of The Human Utility, tells stories and shares learnings from five years of running an organization using software and crowdfunding to protect the basic human right to water. She questions what responsibilities technologists have to society and what role technology can play (or not) in creating a more just, more equitable society. Finally, she shares how the audience can use technology to improve their communities and thus, change the world.  

This is a talk only for technologists who care deeply about the impact of their work on humanity.

Tiffani Ashley Bell, Founder & Executive Director @humanutility

4:10pm - 5:00pm

Socially Conscious Software Open Space

Session details to follow.

5:25pm - 6:15pm

Impact Starts With You

Wanting to make a positive impact on others is what makes us human. Like everything in the tech industry, social and ethical impact has become a commodity. We burn ourselves out for the causes we believe in. Our organizations struggle to practice what they preach. In the five years I’ve created and maintained if-me.org, a free and open source mental health communication app, my biggest takeaway is the power of self-love. I’ll delve into what we do at if-me.org to keep ourselves accountable as an inclusive and beginner-friendly open source community. This accountability has taught me that the impact we have on ourselves is just as powerful as the impact we have on others.

Julia Nguyen, Community Organizer, Founder of if-me.org, and Senior Software Engineer @Mailchimp

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