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UNC CS Alumni Speaker Series: Mike Trinh (Google)

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Brooks Building (FB009)

201 South Columbia Street

Chapel Hill, NC 27514

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CS for Social Good: Opioids, Public Impact, and Computer Science

In only a few years, the opioids epidemic has multiplied to staggering and tragic proportions, ravaging communities nationwide regardless of geography, demographics, or economics. Drug overdoses cause over 70,000 deaths annually (130 daily)--each year, more than the Vietnam War in total.

Vast overprescription of addictive pain medication (like oxycontin or Percocet) leads people towards illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Evidence shows that past approaches--casting substance abuse as a moral weakness--are ineffective, and new treatment options recognize substance abuse as a chronic illness with physiological changes to be treated. Medicine, social services, public health, and public safety experts are working to find innovations to help families and communities cope. So too computer scientists, to augment responses from these other disciplines, and to better understand the complexity of this epidemic.

These responses, across different focuses like prevention, narcotics, treatment, and education, are only the first steps. The public crisis of our time will require years of dedicated multi-disciplinary innovation from governments, non-profits, and private companies, to develop sophistication and effectiveness. Technology can and must do more to help, and is uniquely suited to do so for opioids. In doing so, it may serve to realize the potential good of technology to contribute to society at large.

Speaker Bio

Michael Trinh has done a few things during 11 years at Google. He’s currently Senior Counsel at Google’s User Safety Initiative, addressing high risk content and other online consumer protection issues. His team coordinates Google’s efforts to help combat the opioids epidemic through partnerships with non-profits and government agencies (federal and state) in public health and public safety.

He’s been product counsel at Google X, a research incubator of next-generation “moonshot” technologies. He guided experimental aviation projects as they evolved from research concept towards market introduction, handling the legal/regulatory issues arising from high altitude balloon-mounted telecommunication networks, drone delivery of burritos, kite-generated electricity, and cargo airships. Before this science fiction, he was Litigation Counsel at Google, managing a team handling a fast-growing docket of 100+ patent litigation cases in courts worldwide.

Prior to Google, Mike was a technology/IP litigation associate at a Silicon Valley law firm. He also handled national security issues while representing, pro bono, Guantanamo Bay detainees challenging their indefinite incarceration without ever being charged.

He graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center (2005) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2002), where he studied computer science. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife Pritika and attention-seeking dog Charlie (who was once featured in the Financial Times).


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Brooks Building (FB009)

201 South Columbia Street

Chapel Hill, NC 27514

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