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Patriot Day: Remembering 9/11 and Learning Empowerment Through Tragedy

by Gary M. Shiffman, PhD, on Sep 11, 2020 2:12:55 PM

On this 9/11, my thoughts take me to memories and stories of people working together in the aftermath of the horrific attack on our peace and security 19 years ago. And it seems hard to commemorate this anniversary, this year, and not recognize all that has challenged our sense of security in 2020.

2020 has forced us to face a different kind of tragedy in the form of a pandemic that has claimed nearly 200,000 lives; and it has made us look diversity, equity, and discrimination in the face.

I spent some time thinking through this problem this morning. I came to this conclusion: people support and help each other. We help each other to accomplish our missions, and to support each other personally. I have seen this around the world in various conflict areas. I saw this as a first-generation executive in the Department of Homeland Security 17 years ago. We all witness and feel support as our Giant Oak team endures the turbulence of growing a disruptive technology company during the world’s responses to the COVID 19 global pandemic.

At Giant Oak, we continually push for a culture of collaboration, partnership, and teamwork. This year I have watched as the team has come together to support each other professionally and personally. I am grateful for the support, leadership, and the power of the voices at Giant Oak. With continued support, we can do more.

As a team, Giant Oak explores the bounds of behavioral science and machine learning to empower others who prevent 9/11-type attacks. We do this while helping to prevent automated systems from discriminating based identity labels such as ethnicity, religion, and gender. Just as it can identify a terrorist and money launderer, GOST can clear people to receive a desperately needed loan.

At Giant Oak we have bad and good days; we cannot escape these challenges. But we do have the power to engage in the fight for goodness, to support those on the front lines of safety and security, and to work with good, honest, and caring people. On this anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I want to share a thought: diversity and inclusion matter because we need each other. We learned when under attack on 9/11/2001, as we learned in 2020, that people can unite for justice, peace, and freedom."


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