Productive Depolarization: How Transformational Work Can Heal Humanity

Slideshare Presentation

Abstract submitted for Passion Talks 16, held August 12-13, 2016 in Mt. View, California.

America is experiencing a level of political and cultural polarization not seen since the 1960’s.  In this talk, I will explore how productive work can be a powerful tool for breaking down the assumptions, habits, and tribal structures that contribute to social polarization. I will start by presenting a simple conceptual model of the causes of polarizations, then discuss two case studies from my experiences at MIT and Apple demonstrating how to use that model to bring together mutually suspicious communities. I will end with suggestions for how technologists, entrepreneurs, and activists might leverage this model to better achieve their societal and business goals.


Dr. Ernest Prabhakar has been helping world-class organizations ship groundbreaking products for over twenty years.  As UNIX Product Manager at Apple from 1997 to 2012, he drove the unification of the Mac and UNIX communities by spearheading the launch of Mac OS X Server in 1999, including the Darwin Open Source project. In the last two years he has consulted and led at six different startups, doing product management, launch planning, software development, and executive coaching. He holds at Ph.D. in Particle Physics from Caltech and an S.B. in Physics with Electrical Engineering from MIT.  He is a prolific writer, and maintains a stable of blogs and Twitter accounts covering technology, theology, and organizational development.  After the terrorist attacks of 9/11 he founded, a tiny little think tank devoted to exploring novel solutions to political polarization.

Statement of Faith

I am evangelical Christian with an unorthodox approach to faith.  I am full of doubts and questions, but have chosen to take a stand for what I see as both empirically most probable and aesthetically most desirable.  I view Jesus of Nazareth as the pinnacle of human character and a faithful representation of the divine principle underlying the universe. I have devoted my life to becoming more like Him and helping others do the same. I consider the Bible a trustworthy account of human encounters with the divine, suitable for “teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”  I believe the divine exists as a loving community of three Persons — Father, Son & Spirit — and that we can join in that community by being filled with the Spirit through repentance and confession.


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