SXSW 2019

First Principles First: How to Solve Hard Problems


What does it take to solve a really hard problem and what part does using first principles play? As we face a world of increasing complexity, the ability to solve the “unsolvable” may be the difference between a surviving culture and a thriving one. This panel is led by expert scientists, researchers, physicists and engineers who have sought out solving problems and projects with great technical uncertainty, requiring multi-faceted teams. Problems and projects with the potential for high-impact, whether it's improving the human condition, impacting sustainability in a positive way, or otherwise moving us collectively to an inclusively abundant future.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. Where do you start if you're faced with a seemingly "unsolvable" problem?
  2. Who should you be looking for if you're building a team that confronts hard problems on a daily basis?
  3. How can you transform failures from setbacks to breakthroughs?


  • Leigh Christie, Co-Founder, MistyWest
  • Ariel Ekblaw, Founder & Lead MIT Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, MIT Media Lab
  • Lauren Cohen, Senior SW/FW Engineer, Microsoft
  • Diba Kaya, UX Researcher, Google


Oleha Riden, Principal, MistyWest

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Panel
  • Track: Design
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate

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