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Hacks for Humanity: hacking for the social good

August 28, 2015

Arizona State University’s Project Humanities will host its second Hacks for Humanity event Oct. 3-4, which challenges teams in a 36-hour hackathon for the social good.

This ASU and community event combines technology, innovation and the seven principles of "Humanity 101" — kindness, empathy, compassion, respect, forgiveness, integrity and self-reflection.

Participants include creative thinkers, artists, programmers, designers and anyone interested in integrating software, apps, games and other technologies into everyday life for our collective social good. Community members, both with or without coding and tech experience, are invited to attend.

Participants form teams that include developers, designers and visionaries. At the end of the two days groups will compete in pitching their newly-created technologies to a panel of expert judges.

Hacks for Humanity is free and open to the public and will take place in Stauffer B Building on ASU’s Tempe campus.

Last year, in Project Humanities’ first Hacks for Humanity, over 100 people from various backgrounds and skill levels participated. The winning team, ARKHumanity, developed a platform to deliver rapid intervention to social media users indicating risk of suicide; the team then went on to win the $10k grand prize in the 2015 ASU Changemaker Innovation Challenge.

Doctoral student Jordan Bates and his teammates Bin Hong Lee, Pat Pataranutaporn, Ram Polur and Kacie McCollum developed software that searches Twitter feeds for keywords indicating the potential of suicidal thoughts. They then used machine learning and natural language processing techniques to train bots to filter these potential tweets down to a manageable number of messages that humans could access.

Polur, an epidemiologist in Arizona Health Department who enjoys hacking, said that last year's Hacks for Humanity helped him connect with not only his current teammates, but also many other brilliant innovators and entrepreneurs.

McCollum said even though she's “not a techie person,” she found that she had the opportunity to “join like-minded individuals to create life changing applications for the social good.”

Pataranutaporn, a first-year biology major at ASU who loves graphic design, said, “[It's a way to] meet the most awesome people who have minds of caring for each other.”

For more information about Hacks for Humanity, visit For more information about Project Humanities, visit, call (480) 727-7030, or email