Your Undivided Attention

By Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin, The Center for Humane Technology

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Subscribers: 1580
Reviews: 4

Bo
 Apr 23, 2022
Extremely partisan episode blaming conservatives while holding water for woke progressives. CNN level bias here. We need new media.

na
 Dec 18, 2020
absolutely fantastic 👏

Owain
 Sep 24, 2019
Brilliant analysis of Big Tech and addiction

m
 Jun 17, 2019

Description

In this podcast from the Center for Humane Technology, co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin explore the incredible power that technology has over our lives — and how we can use it to catalyze a humane future. Join us every other Thursday as we confront challenges and explore solutions with a wide-range of thought leaders and change-makers — like Kate Raworth on renegade economics, Audrey Tang on digital democracy, Daniel Schmachtenberger on global coordination, and Yuval Noah Harari on the co-evolution of technology and democracy. Your Undivided Attention is proud to be part of the TED Audio Collective. Our Executive Producer is Stephanie Lepp, and our Senior Producer is Julia Scott.

Episode Date
An Alternative to Silicon Valley Unicorns
00:51:26

Why isn't Twitter doing more to get bots off their platform? Why isn’t Uber taking better care of its drivers? 

What if...they can't?

Venture-capital backed companies like Twitter and Uber are held accountable to maximizing returns to investors. If and when they become public companies, they become accountable to maximizing returns to shareholders. They’ve promised Wall Street outsized returns — which means Twitter can't lose bots if it would significantly lower their user count and in turn lower advertising revenue, and Uber can’t treat their drivers like employees if it competes with profits.

But what's the alternative? What might it look like to design an ownership and governance model that incentivizes a technology company to serve all of its stakeholders over the long term – and primarily, the stakeholders who create value?

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're talking with two experts on creating the conditions for humane business, and in turn, for humane technology: Mara Zepeda and Kate “Sassy” Sassoon of Zebras Unite Co-Op. Zebras Unite is a member-owned co-operative that’s creating the capital, culture, and community to power a more just and inclusive economy. The Zebras Unite Coop serves a community of over 6,000 members, in about 30 chapters, over 6 continents. Mara is their Managing Director, and Kate is their Director of Cooperative Membership.

Two corrections:

  • The episode says that the failure rate of startups is 99%. The actual rate is closer to 90%.
  • The episode says that in 2017, Twitter reported 350 million users on its platform. The actual number reported was 319 million users.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA 

Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break

A seminal 2017 article by Zebras Unite co-founders, which kicked off the movement and distinguished between zebras and unicorns — per the table below.

Meetup to the People 

Zebras Unite’s 2019 thought experiment of exiting Meetup to community

Zebras Unite Crowdcast Channel

Where you can find upcoming online events, as well as recordings of previous events.

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES 

A Renegade Solution to Extractive Economics with Kate Raworth: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/29-a-renegade-solution-to-extractive-economics

Bonus — A Bigger Picture on Elon & Twitter: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/bigger-picture-elon-twitter  

Here’s Our Plan And We Don’t Know with Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin, and Stephanie Lepp: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/46-heres-our-plan-and-we-dont-know

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

Jun 30, 2022
Feed Drop — Conversations With People Who Hate Me with Dylan Marron
00:31:25

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we’re doing something different: we’re airing an episode of another podcast that’s also part of the TED Audio Collective.

Backing up for a moment: we recently aired an episode with Dylan Marron — creator and host of the podcast, Conversations With People Who Hate Me. On his show, Dylan calls up the people behind negative comments on the internet, and asks them: why did you write that?

In our conversation with Dylan, we played a clip from episode 2 of Conversations With People Who Hate Me. In that episode, Dylan talks with a high school student named Josh, who’d sent him homophobic messages online. This week, we're airing that full episode — the full conversation between Dylan Marron and Josh.

If you didn’t hear our episode with Dylan, do give it a listen. Then, enjoy this second episode of Conversations With People Who Hate Me.

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES 

Transcending the Internet Hate Game with Dylan Marron: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/52-transcending-the-internet-hate-game

A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/42-a-conversation-with-facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen

The Cure for Hate. Guest: Tony McAleer: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/11-the-cure-for-hate

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

Jun 16, 2022
How Political Language Is Engineered — with Drew Westen and Frank Luntz
00:36:41

Democracy depends on our ability to choose our political views. But the language we use to talk about political issues is deliberately designed to be divisive, and can produce up to a 15-point difference in what we think about those issues. As a result, are we choosing our views, or is our language choosing them for us?

This week,Your Undivided Attention welcomes two Jedi Masters of political communication. Drew Westen is a political psychologist and messaging consultant based at Emory university, who has advised the Democratic Party. Frank Luntz is a political and communications consultant, pollster, and pundit, who has advised the Republican Party. In the past, our guests have used their messaging expertise in ways that increased partisanship. For example, Luntz advocated for the use of the term “death tax” instead of “estate tax,” and “climate change” instead of “global warming.” Still, Luntz and Westen are uniquely positioned to help us decode the divisive power of language — and explore how we might design language that unifies.

CORRECTIONS: in the episode, Tristan refers to a panel Drew Westen and Frank Luntz were on at the New York Public Library. He says the panel was “about 10 years ago,” but it was actually 15 years ago in 2007. Also, Westen refers to a news anchor who moderated a debate between George H. W. Bush and Michael Dukakis in 1988. Drew mistakenly names the anchor as Bernard Kalb, when it was actually Bernard Shaw.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA

The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation

Drew Westen's 2008 book about role of emotion in determining the political life of the nation, which influenced campaigns and elections around the world

Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear

Frank Luntz's 2008 book, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the tactical use of words and phrases affects what we buy, who we vote for, and even what we believe in

New York Public Library's Panel on Political Language 

A 2007 panel between multiple 'Jedi Masters' of political communication along the political spectrum, including Frank Luntz, Drew Westen, and George Lakoff
 

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES

The Invisible Influence of Language with Lera Boroditsky: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/48-the-invisible-influence-of-language

How To Free Our Minds with Cult Deprogramming Expert Dr. Steven Hassan: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/51-how-to-free-our-minds

Mind the (Perception) Gap with Dan Vallone: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/33-mind-the-perception-gap

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

Jun 02, 2022
Transcending the Internet Hate Game — with Dylan Marron
00:45:54

The game that social media sets us up to play is a game that rewards outrage. It's a game that we win by being better than other players at dunking on each other, straw-manning each other, and assuming the worst in each other. The game itself must be transformed.

And, we can also decide to step out of the game, and do something different

On this week’s episode of Your Undivided Attention, we welcome Dylan Marron — who has been called by Jason Sudeikis "a modern Mr. Rogers for the digital age." Dylan is the creator and host of the podcast Conversations With People Who Hate Me

On the show, he calls up the people behind negative comments on the internet, and asks them a simple question: why did you write that? He just published a book by the same name, where he elaborates 12 lessons learned from talking with internet strangers. Together with Dylan, we explore how transforming the game and transforming ourselves can go hand-in-hand.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA 

Conversations With People Who Hate Me (podcast)

Dylan Marron’s podcast where he calls up the people behind negative comments on the internet, and talks to them. In this episode, we heard a clip of Episode 2: Hurt People Hurt People.

Conversations With People Who Hate Me (book)

Dylan’s book where he elaborates 12 lessons learned from talking with internet strangers.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Feature documentary chronicling the work and legacy of Fred Rogers.

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES 

A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/42-a-conversation-with-facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen

The Cure for Hate. Guest: Tony McAleer: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/11-the-cure-for-hate

The Fake News of Your Own Mind with Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman: 

https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/19-the-fake-news-of-your-own-mind

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

May 19, 2022
How To Free Our Minds — with Cult Deprogramming Expert Dr. Steven Hassan
00:51:28

How would you know if you were in a cult? 

If not a cult, then at least under undue influence?

The truth is: we're all under some form of undue influence. The question is: to what degree and to what extent we’re aware of this influence — which is exacerbated by social media. In an era of likes, followers, and echo chambers, how can we become aware of undue influence and gain sovereignty over our minds?

Our guest this week is Dr. Steven Hassan, an expert on undue influence, brainwashing, and unethical hypnosis. He’s the founder of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center — a coaching, consulting, and training organization dedicated to helping people freely consider how they want to live their lives. Dr. Hassan was himself a member of a cult: the Unification Church (also known as the Moonies), which was developed in Korea in the 1950's. Since leaving the Moonies, Dr. Hassan has helped thousands of individuals and families recover from undue influence.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA 

Freedom of Mind website: The website for Dr. Hassan’s Freedom of Mind Resource Center, which includes resources such as his Influence Continuum, BITE model of authoritarian control, and Strategic Interactive Approach for alleviating people of undue influence

The Influence Continuum with Dr. Steven Hassan: Dr. Hassan’s podcast exploring how mind-control works, and how to protect yourself from its grips 

Reckonings: A podcast that told the stories of people who’ve transcended extremism, expanded their worldviews, and made other kinds of transformative change. Start with episode 17 featuring a former paid climate skeptic, or episode 18 featuring the former protégé of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES 

Can Your Reality Turn on a Word? Guest: Anthony Jacquin: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/34-can-your-reality-turn-on-a-word

The World According to Q. Guest: Travis View: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/21-the-world-according-to-q

The Cure for Hate. Guest: Tony McAleer: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/11-the-cure-for-hate

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

May 05, 2022
Bonus – A Bigger Picture on Elon & Twitter
00:13:42

If Elon Musk owns Twitter, what are the risks and what are the opportunities? In order for Twitter to support democracy — and Musk’s goal of becoming a multi-planetary civilization — we need a radical redesign that goes beyond free speech. 

Note: this conversation was recorded on April 21, 2022. That was 3 days prior to the official purchase announcement, which revealed that Elon Musk will buy Twitter for $44 billion. 

Clarification: In the episode, we talk about the creation of The Daily Show, featuring Jon Stewart. To be clear, The Daily Show was created by writer and producer Madeleine Smithberg and comedian and media personality Lizz Winstead — for comedian and host Craig Kilborn. Jon Stewart took over in 1999, which is when he had the conversation with executives that we reference in the episode, where he didn't want to see the viewership numbers.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA 

Examining algorithmic amplification of political content on Twitter

Polarization of Twitter (Knight Foundation)

Pew Research on the political extremes drowning out centrist voices on Twitter

Chronological feed vs algorithm (Computational Journalism Lab)

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES

A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/42-a-conversation-with-facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen

Here’s Our Plan And We Don’t Know: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/46-heres-our-plan-and-we-dont-know

A Problem Well-Stated Is Half-Solved: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/a-problem-well-stated-is-half-solved

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

 

 

Apr 26, 2022
What Is Civil War in the Digital Age? — with Barbara F. Walter
00:49:31

Civil war might be the most likely escalation pathway towards disaster for our country. On the flip side, learning how to avoid civil conflict — and more ambitiously, repair our civic fabric — might have the greatest leverage for addressing the challenges we face.

Our guest Barbara F. Walter is ​​one of the world's leading experts on civil wars, political violence, and terrorism. She’s the author of How Civil Wars Start: And How To Stop Them, which provides insight into the drivers of civil war, how social media fuels conflict, and how we might repair our broken democracies. 

Together, we explore what makes for a healthy liberal democracy, why democracies worldwide are in decline, and the role of resentment and hope. Join us in an exploration of the generator functions for civil war in the digital age, and how we might prevent them.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA

How Civil Wars Start: And How To Stop Them

Barbara F. Walter’s latest book and the subject of our conversation, identifying the conditions that give rise to modern civil war in order to address them

Political Violence At A Glance

An award-winning online magazine about the causes and consequences of violence and protest, co-authored by Barbara and other experts

The Center for Systemic Peace

Publications, analysis, and other resources from the organizations that measures for democracies and anocracies on a 21-point scale 

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES

A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/42-a-conversation-with-facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen

The Courage to Connect. Guests: Ciaran O’Connor and John Wood, Jr.: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/30-the-courage-to-connect

Mind the (Perception) Gap with Dan Vallone: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/33-mind-the-perception-gap

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

 

Apr 21, 2022
Bonus – What Is Humane Technology?
00:12:50

“The fundamental problem of humanity is that we have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and God-like technology.” — E. O. Wilson.

More than ever, we need the wisdom to match the power of our God-like technology. Yet, technology is both eroding our ability to make sense of the world, and increasing the complexity of the issues we face. The gap between our sense-making ability and issue complexity is what we call the “wisdom gap." 

How do we develop the wisdom we need to responsibly steward our God-like technology?

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're introducing one way Center for Humane Technology is attempting to close the wisdom gap —through our new online course, Foundations of Humane Technology. In this bonus episode, Tristan Harris describes the wisdom gap we're attempting to close, and our Co-Founder and Executive Director Randima Fernando talks about the course itself.

Sign up for the free course: https://www.humanetech.com/course

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES

A Problem Well-Stated Is Half-Solved with Daniel Schmachtenberger: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/a-problem-well-stated-is-half-solved

A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/42-a-conversation-with-facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen

Here’s Our Plan And We Don’t Know with Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin, and Stephanie Lepp: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/46-heres-our-plan-and-we-dont-know

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

Apr 07, 2022
Digital Democracy is Within Reach with Audrey Tang (Rerun)
00:47:33

[This episode originally aired on July 23rd, 2020.] Imagine a world where every country has a digital minister and technologically-enabled legislative bodies. Votes are completely transparent and audio and video of all conversations between lawmakers and lobbyists are available to the public immediately. Conspiracy theories are acted upon within two hours and replaced by humorous videos that clarify the truth. Imagine that expressing outrage about your local political environment turned into a participatory process where you were invited to solve that problem and even entered into a face to face group workshop. 

Does that sound impossible? It’s ambitious and optimistic, but that's everything that our guest this episode, Audrey Tang, digital minister of Taiwan, has been working on in her own country for many years. Audrey’s path into public service began in 2014 with her participation in the Sunflower Movement, a student-led protest in Taiwan’s parliamentary building, and she’s been building on that experience ever since, leading her country into a future of truly participatory digital democracy. 

Mar 24, 2022
The Dark Side Of Decentralization — with Audrey Kurth Cronin
00:48:19

Is decentralization inherently a good thing? 

These days, there's a lot of talk about decentralization. Decentralized social media platforms can allow us to own our own data. Decentralized cryptocurrencies can enable bank-free financial transactions. Decentralized 3D printing can allow us to fabricate anything we want.

But if the world lives on Bitcoin, we may not be able to sanction nation states like Russia when they invade sovereign nations. If 3D printing is decentralized, anyone can print their own weapons at home. Decentralization takes on new meaning when we're talking about decentralizing the capacity for catastrophic destruction. 

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we explore the history of decentralized weaponry, how social media is effectively a new decentralized weapon, and how to wisely navigate these threats. Guiding us through this exploration is Audrey Kurth Cronin — one of the world’s leading experts in security and terrorism. Audrey is a distinguished Professor of International Security at American University, and the author of several books — most recently: Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow’s Terrorists.

Clarification: in the episode, Tristan refers to a video of Daniel Schmachtenberger's as "The Psychological Pitfalls of Working on Existential Risk." The correct name of the video is "Psychological Pitfalls of Engaging With X-Risks & Civilization Redesign."

RECOMMENDED MEDIA 

Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists
Audrey Kurth Cronin's latest book, which analyzes emerging technologies and devises a new framework for analyzing 21st century military innovation

Psychological Pitfalls of Engaging With X-Risks & Civilization Redesign
Daniel Schmachtenberger's talk discussing the psychological pitfalls of working on existential risks and civilization redesign

Policy Reforms Toolkit
The Center for Humane Technology's toolkit for developing policies to protect the conditions that democracy needs to thrive: a comprehensively educated public, a citizenry that can check the power of market forces and bind predatory behavior

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES

22 – Digital Democracy is Within Reach with Audrey Tang: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/23-digital-democracy-is-within-reach  

28 – Two Million Years in Two Hours: A Conversation with Yuval Noah Harari: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/28-two-million-years-in-two-hours-a-conversation-with-yuval-noah-harari

45 – Is World War III Already Here? Guest: Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/45-is-world-war-iii-already-here

Mar 10, 2022
The Invisible Influence of Language — with Lera Boroditsky
00:40:19

One of the oldest technologies we have is language. How do the words we use influence the way we think?

The media can talk about immigrants scurrying across the border, versus immigrants crossing the border. Or we might hear about technology platforms censoring us, versus moderating content. 

If those word choices shift public opinion on immigration or technology by 25%, or even 2%, then we’ve been influenced in ways we can't even see. Which means that becoming aware of how words shape the way we think can help inoculate us from their undue influence. And further, consciously choosing or even designing the words we use can help us think in more complex ways – and address our most complex challenges.

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're grateful to have Lera Boroditsky, a cognitive scientist who studies how language shapes thought. Lera is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, and the editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Cultural Psychology.

Clarification: in the episode, Aza refers to Elizabeth Loftus' research on eyewitness testimony. He describes an experiment in which a car hit a stop sign, but the experiment actually used an example of two cars hitting each other.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA 

How language shapes the way we think

Lera Boroditsky's 2018 TED talk about how the 7,000 languages spoken around the world shape the way we think

Measuring Effects of Metaphor in a Dynamic Opinion Landscape

Boroditsky and Paul H. Thibodeau's 2015 study about how the metaphors we use to talk about crime influence our opinions on how to address crime 

Subtle linguistic cues influence perceived blame and financial liability

Boroditsky and Caitlin M. Fausey's 2010 study about how the language used to describe the 2004 Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction" influence our views on culpability

Why are politicians getting 'schooled' and 'destroyed'?

BBC article featuring the research of former Your Undivided Attention guest Guillaume Chaslot, which shows the verbs YouTube is most likely to include in titles of recommended videos — such as "obliterates" and "destroys"

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES 

Mind the (Perception) Gap: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/33-mind-the-perception-gap

Can Your Reality Turn on a Word?: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/34-can-your-reality-turn-on-a-word

Down the Rabbit Hole by Design: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/4-down-the-rabbit-hole-by-design

Feb 24, 2022
How Science Fiction Can Shape Our Reality — with Kim Stanley Robinson
00:40:38

The meta-crisis is so vast: climate change, exponential technology, addiction, polarization, and more. How do we grasp it, let alone take steps to address it? 

One of the thinking tools we have at our disposal is science fiction. To the extent that we co-evolve with our stories, science fiction can prepare us for the impending future — and empower us to shape it.

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're thrilled to have one of the greatest living science-fiction writers — Kim Stanley Robinson. His most recent novel is The Ministry for the Future, a sweeping epic that reaches into the very near future, and imagines what it would take to unite humanity and avoid a mass extinction. Whether or not you've read the book, this episode has insights for you. And if this episode makes you want to read the book, our conversation won't spoil it for you.

Clarification: in the episode, Robinson refers to philosopher Antonio Gramsci's "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will." This phrase was originally said by novelist and playwright Romain Rolland. Gramsci made the phrase the motto of his newspaper, because he appreciated its integration of radical intellectualism with revolutionary activism.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA 

The Ministry For The Future

Robinson's latest novel and the subject of our conversation — which reaches into the near future, and imagines what it would take to unite humanity and avoid a mass extinction

A Deeper Dive Into the Meta Crisis

CHT's blog post about the meta-crisis, which includes the fall of sense-making and the rise of decentralized technology-enabled power 

Half Earth Project

The project based on E. O. Wilson's proposal to conserve half the land and sea — in order to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity, including ourselves

ClimateAction.tech

Global tech worker community mobilizing the technology industry to face the climate crisis

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES

18 – The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to Saving the Planet: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/18-the-stubborn-optimists-guide-to-saving-the-planet

Bonus – The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide Revisited: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/bonus-the-stubborn-optimists-guide-revisited

29 – A Renegade Solution to Extractive Economics: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/29-a-renegade-solution-to-extractive-economics

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_ 

 

Feb 10, 2022
Here’s Our Plan And We Don’t Know — with Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin and Stephanie Lepp
00:35:47

Renowned quantum physicist Richard Feynman once wrote, "It is our capacity to doubt that will determine the future of civilization." 

In that spirit, this episode is a little different – because we're talking openly about our doubts, with you, our listeners. It's also different because it’s hosted by our Executive Producer Stephanie Lepp, with Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin in the hot seats.

How have we evolved our understanding of our social media predicament? How has that evolution inspired us to question the work we do at Center for Humane Technology? Join us as we say those three magic words — I don't know — and yet pursue our mission to the best of our ability.

RECOMMENDED MEDIA

Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System

Systems theorist Donella Meadows' seminal article, articulating a framework for thinking about how to change complex systems. 

Winning Humanity’s Existential Game

The Future Thinkers podcast with Daniel Schmactenberger, where he explores how to mitigate natural and human-caused existential risks and design post-capitalist systems

Ledger of Harms of Social Media

The Center for Humane Technology's research on elaborating the many externalities of our technology platforms' race for human attention 

Foundations of Humane Technology Course

CHT's forthcoming course on how to build technology that protects our well-being, minimizes unforeseen consequences, and builds our collective capacity to address humanity's urgent challenges

RECOMMENDED YUA EPISODES 

36 - A Problem Well-Stated Is Half-Solved: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/a-problem-well-stated-is-half-solved

42 - A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/42-a-conversation-with-facebook-whistleblower-frances-haugen

43 - Behind the Curtain on The Social Dilemma: https://www.humanetech.com/podcast/43-behind-the-curtain-on-the-social-dilemma

Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Follow us on Twitter: @HumaneTech_

 
Feb 03, 2022
Is World War III Already Here? — with Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster
00:35:22

Would you say that the US is in war-time or peace-time? How do you know? 

The truth is, the nature of warfare has changed so fundamentally, that we're currently in a war we don't even recognize. It's the war that Russia, China, and other hostile foreign actors are fighting against us — weaponizing social media to undermine our faith in each other, our government, and democracy itself. 

World War III is here, it's in cyberspace, and the US is unprepared — and largely unaware. 

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're fortunate to be speaking with Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster. General McMaster was the United States National Security Advisor from 2017 to 2018. He has examined the most critical foreign policy and national security challenges that face the United States, and is devoted to preserving America's standing and security.

Jan 13, 2022
A Fresh Take on Tech in China — with Rui Ma and Duncan Clark
00:48:37

Who do you think the Chinese government considers its biggest rival? The United States, right? Actually, the Chinese government considers its biggest rival to be its own technology companies

It's China's tech companies who threaten its capacity to build a competitive China. That's why the Chinese government is cracking down on social media — for example, by limiting the number of hours youth can play video games, and banning cell phone use in schools. China's restrictions on social media use may be autocratic, but may also protect users more than what we see coming from the US government.

It’s a complicated picture.

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're having a surprising conversation about technology in China. Here to give us a fresh take are two guests: investor, analyst, and co-host of the Tech Buzz China podcast Rui Ma, and China internet expert and author of Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, Duncan Clark.

Dec 10, 2021
Behind the Curtain on The Social Dilemma — with Jeff Orlowski-Yang and Larissa Rhodes
00:43:40

How do you make a film that impacts more than 100 million people in 190 countries in 30 languages?

This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're going behind the curtain on The Social Dilemma — the Netflix documentary about the dark consequences of the social media business model, which featured the Center for Humane Technology. On the heels of the film's 1-year anniversary and winning of 2 Emmy Awards, we're talking with Exposure Labs' Director Jeff Orlowski-Yang and Producer Larissa Rhodes. What moved Jeff and Larissa to shift their focus from climate change to social media? How did the film transform countless lives, including ours and possibly yours? What might we do differently if we were producing the film today? 

Join us as we explore the reverberations of The Social Dilemma — which we're still feeling the effects of over one year later. 

Nov 11, 2021
A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen
00:55:24

We are now in social media's Big Tobacco moment. And that’s largely thanks to the courage of one woman: Frances Haugen.

Frances is a specialist in algorithmic product management. She worked at Google, Pinterest, and Yelp before joining Facebook — first as a Product Manager on Civic Misinformation, and then on the Counter-Espionage team. But what she saw at Facebook was that the company consistently and knowingly prioritized profits over public safety. So Frances made the courageous decision to blow the whistle — which resulted in the biggest disclosure in the history of Facebook, and in the history of social media.

In this special interview, co-hosts Tristan and Aza go behind the headlines with Frances herself. We go deeper into the problems she exposed, discuss potential solutions, and explore her motivations — along with why she fundamentally believes change is possible. We also announce an exciting campaign being launched by the Center for Humane Technology — to use this window of opportunity to make Facebook safer.

Oct 18, 2021
Bonus — A Whirlwind Week of Whistleblowing
00:04:56

In seven years of working on the problems of runaway technology, we’ve never experienced a week like this! In this bonus episode of Your Undivided Attention, we recap this whirlwind of a week — from Facebook whistleblower France Haugen going public on 60 Minutes on Sunday, to the massive outage of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp on Monday, to Haugen’s riveting Congressional testimony on Tuesday. We also make some exciting announcements — including our planned episode with Haugen up next, the Yale social media reform panel we’re participating in on Thursday, and a campaign we’re launching to pressure Facebook to make one immediate change. 

This week it truly feels like we’re making history — and you’re a part of it.

Oct 06, 2021
Making Meaning in Challenging Times — with Jamie Wheal
00:43:03

What helps you make meaning in challenging times? As you confront COVID, the climate crisis, and all of the challenges we discuss on this show, what helps you avoid nihilism or fundamentalism, and instead access healing, inspiration, and connection? 

Today on Your Undivided Attention, we're joined by anthropologist and writer Jamie Wheal. Wheal is the author of Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex and Death In a World That's Lost Its Mind. In the book, he makes the case that in order to address the meta-crisis — the interconnected challenges we face, which we talked about in Episode 36 with Daniel Schmachtenberger, we must address the meaning crisis — the need to stay inspired, mended, and bonded in challenging times. Jamie argues that it doesn't matter whether we're staying inspired, mended, and bonded through institutionalized religion or other means as long as meaning-making is inclusively available to everyone.

What we hope you'll walk away with is a humane way to think about how to address the challenges we face, from COVID to climate — by enabling us to make meaning in challenging times.

Sep 30, 2021
Bonus — The Facebook Files with Tristan Harris, Frank Luntz, and Daniel Schmachtenberger
01:05:12

On September 13th, the Wall Street Journal released The Facebook Files, an ongoing investigation of the extent to which Facebook's problems are meticulously known inside the company — all the way up to Mark Zuckerberg. Pollster Frank Luntz invited Tristan Harris along with friend and mentor Daniel Schmachtenberger to discuss the implications in a live webinar. 

In this bonus episode of Your Undivided Attention, Tristan and Daniel amplify the scope of the public conversation about The Facebook Files beyond the platform, and into its business model, our regulatory structure, and human nature itself.

Sep 21, 2021
The Power of Solutions Journalism — with Tina Rosenberg and Hélène Biandudi Hofer
00:40:23

What is the goal of our digital information environment? Is it simply to inform us, or also to empower us to act? 

The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) understands that simply reporting on social problems rarely leads to change. What they’ve discovered is that rigorously reporting on responses to social problems is more likely to give activists and concerned citizens the hope and information they need to take effective action. For this reason, SJN trains journalists to report on “solutions angles.” M​​ore broadly, the organization seeks to rebalance the news, so that people are exposed to stories that help them understand the challenges we face as well as potential ways to respond. 

In this episode, Tina Rosenberg, co-founder of SJN, and Hélène Biandudi Hofer, former manager of SJN’s Complicating the Narratives initiative, walk us through the origin of solutions journalism, how to practice it, and what impact it has had. Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin reflect on how humane technology, much like solutions journalism, should also be designed to create an empowering relationship with reality — enabling us to shift from learned helplessness to what we might call learned hopefulness.

 

Sep 03, 2021
Do You Want to Become a Vampire? — with L.A. Paul
00:36:35

How do we decide whether to undergo a transformative experience when we don’t know how that experience will change us? This is the central question explored by Yale philosopher and cognitive scientist L.A. Paul

Paul uses the prospect of becoming a vampire to illustrate the conundrum: let's say Dracula offers you the chance to become a vampire. You might be confident you'll love it, but you also know you'll become a different person with different preferences. Whose preferences do you prioritize: yours now, or yours after becoming a vampire? Similarly, whose preferences do we prioritize when deciding how to engage with technology and social media: ours now, or ours after becoming users — to the point of potentially becoming attention-seeking vampires? 

In this episode with L.A. Paul, we're raising the stakes of the social media conversation — from technology that steers our time and attention, to technology that fundamentally transforms who we are and what we want. Tune in as Paul, Tristan Harris, and Aza Raskin explore the complexity of transformative experiences, and how to approach their ethical design.

Aug 12, 2021
You Will Never Breathe the Same Again — with James Nestor
00:37:46

When author and journalist James Nestor began researching a piece on free diving, he was stunned. He found that free divers could hold their breath for up to 8 minutes at a time, and dive to depths of 350 feet on a single breath. As he dug into the history of breath, he discovered that our industrialized lives have led to improper and mindless breathing, with cascading consequences from sleep apnea to reduced mobility. He also discovered an entire world of extraordinary feats achieved through proper and mindful breathing — including healing scoliosis, rejuvenating organs, halting snoring, and even enabling greater sovereignty in our use of technology. What is the transformative potential of breath? And what is the relationship between proper breathing and humane technology?

Jul 23, 2021
A Facebook Whistleblower — with Sophie Zhang
00:28:08

In September of 2020, on her last day at Facebook, data scientist Sophie Zhang posted a 7,900-word memo to the company's internal site. In it, she described the anguish and guilt she had experienced over the last two and a half years. She'd spent much of that time almost single-handedly trying to rein in fake activity on the platform by nefarious world leaders in small countries. Sometimes she received help and attention from higher-ups; sometimes she got silence and inaction. “I joined Facebook from the start intending to change it from the inside,” she said, but “I was still very naive at the time.” 

We don’t have a lot of information about how things operate inside the major tech platforms, and most former employees aren’t free to speak about their experience. It’s easy to fill that void with inferences about what might be motivating a company — greed, apathy, disorganization or ignorance, for example — but the truth is usually far messier and more nuanced. Sophie turned down a $64,000 severance package to avoid signing a non-disparagement agreement. In this episode of Your Undivided Attention, she explains to Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin how she ended up here, and offers ideas about what could be done at these companies to prevent similar kinds of harm in the future.

Jul 09, 2021
[Unedited] A Problem Well-Stated is Half-Solved — with Daniel Schmachtenberger
02:02:49

We’ve explored many different problems on Your Undivided Attention — addiction, disinformation, polarization, climate change, and more. But what if many of these problems are actually symptoms of the same meta-problem, or meta-crisis? And what if a key leverage point for intervening in this meta-crisis is improving our collective capacity to problem-solve?

Our guest Daniel Schmachtenberger guides us through his vision for a new form of global coordination to help us address our global existential challenges. Daniel is a founding member of the Consilience Project, aimed at facilitating new forms of collective intelligence and governance to strengthen open societies. He's also a friend and mentor of Tristan Harris. 

This insight-packed episode introduces key frames we look forward to using in future episodes. For this reason, we highly encourage you to listen to this unedited version along with the edited version

We also invite you to join Daniel and Tristan at our Podcast Club! It will be on Friday, July 9th from 2-3:30pm PDT / 5-6:30pm EDT. Check here for details.

Jun 25, 2021
A Problem Well-Stated is Half-Solved — with Daniel Schmachtenberger
00:37:06

We’ve explored many different problems on Your Undivided Attention — addiction, disinformation, polarization, climate change, and more. But what if many of these problems are actually symptoms of the same meta-problem, or meta-crisis? And what if a key leverage point for intervening in this meta-crisis is improving our collective capacity to problem-solve?

Our guest Daniel Schmachtenberger guides us through his vision for a new form of global coordination to help us address our global existential challenges. Daniel is a founding member of the Consilience Project, aimed at facilitating new forms of collective intelligence and governance to strengthen open societies. He's also a friend and mentor of Tristan Harris. 

This insight-packed episode introduces key frames we look forward to using in future episodes. For this reason, we highly encourage you to listen to this edited version along with the unedited version.

We also invite you to join Daniel and Tristan at our Podcast Club! It will be on Friday, July 9th from 2-3:30pm PDT / 5-6:30pm EDT. Check here for details.

Jun 25, 2021
Mr. Harris Zooms to Washington
00:32:36

Back in January 2020, Tristan Harris went to Washington, D.C. to testify before the U.S. Congress on the harms of social media. A few weeks ago, he returned — virtually — for another hearing, Algorithms and Amplification: How Social Media Platforms’ Design Choices Shape Our Discourse and Our Minds. He testified alongside Dr. Joan Donovan, Research Director at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media Politics and Public Policy and the heads of policy from Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The senators’ animated questioning demonstrated a deeper understanding of how these companies’ fundamental business models and design properties fuel hate and misinformation, and many of the lawmakers expressed a desire and willingness to take regulatory action. But, there’s still room for a more focused conversation. “It’s not about whether they filter out bad content,” says Tristan, “but really whether the entire business model of capturing human performance is a good way to organize society.” In this episode, a follow-up to last year’s “Mr. Harris Goes to Washington,” Tristan and Aza Raskin debrief about what was different this time, and what work lies ahead to pave the way for effective policy. 

May 10, 2021
Can Your Reality Turn on a Word? — with Anthony Jacquin
00:47:27

Can hypnosis be a tool to help us see how our minds are being shaped and manipulated more than we realize? Guest Anthony Jacquin is a hypnotist and hypnotherapist of over 20 years, author of Reality is Plastic, and he co-runs the Jacquin Hypnosis Academy. He uses his practice to help his clients change their behavior and improve their lives. In this episode, he breaks down the misconceptions of hypnosis and reveals that despite the influence of hypnotizing forces like social media, we all still have the ability to get in touch with our subconscious selves. “What can I say with certainty is true about me — what is good, true and real about me?” Anthony asks. “Much of what we’ve invested in is actually transient. It will change. What is unchanging?” Anthony draws connections between hypnosis and technology and the impacts of both on our subconscious minds but identifies a key difference — technology is exploiting us. But maybe a little more insight into one more dimension of how our minds work underneath the hood can help us build better, more humane and conscious technology.

Apr 29, 2021
The Stubborn Optimist's Guide Revisited — with Christiana Figueres (Rerun)
00:59:56

[This episode originally aired May 21, 2020] Internationally-recognized global leader on climate change Christiana Figueres argues that the battle against global threats like climate change begins in our own heads. She became the United Nations’ top climate official, after she had watched the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit collapse “in blood, in screams, in tears.” In the wake of that debacle, Christiana began performing an act of emotional Aikido on herself, her team, and eventually delegates from 196 nations. She called it “stubborn optimism.” It requires a clear and alluring vision of a future that can supplant the dystopian and discouraging vision of what will happen if the world fails to act. It was stubborn optimism, she says, that convinced those nations to sign the first global climate framework, the Paris Agreement. In this episode, we explore how a similar shift in Silicon Valley’s vision could lead 3 billion people to take action for the planet.

Apr 22, 2021
Mind the (Perception) Gap — with Dan Vallone
01:02:13

What do you think the other side thinks? Guest Dan Vallone is the Director of More in Common U.S.A., an organization that’s been asking Democrats and Republicans that critical question. Their work has uncovered countless “perception gaps” in our understanding of each other. For example, Democrats think that about 30 percent of Republicans support "reasonable gun control," but in reality, it’s about 70 percent. Both Republicans and Democrats think that about 50 percent of the other side would feel that physical violence is justified in some situations, but the actual number for each is only about five percent. “Both sides are convinced that the majority of their political opponents are extremists,” says Dan. “And yet, that's just not true.” Social media encourages the most extreme views to speak the loudest and rise to the top—and it’s hard to start a conversation and work together when we’re all arguing with mirages. But Dan’s insights and the work of More in Common provide a hopeful guide to unraveling the distortions we’ve come to accept and correcting our foggy vision.

Apr 15, 2021
Bonus — Coded Bias
00:23:56

The film Coded Bias follows MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini through her investigation of algorithmic discrimination, after she accidentally discovers that facial recognition technologies do not detect darker-skinned faces. Joy is joined on screen by experts in the field, researchers, activists, and involuntary victims of algorithmic injustice. Coded Bias was released on Netflix April 5, 2021, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year, and has been called “‘An Inconvenient Truth’ for Big Tech algorithms” by Fast Company magazine. We talk to director Shalini Kantayya about the impetus for the film and how to tackle the threats these challenges pose to civil rights while working towards more humane technology for all.

Apr 08, 2021
Come Together Right Now — with Shamil Idriss
01:16:50

How many technologists have traveled to Niger, or the Balkans, or Rwanda, to learn the lessons of peacebuilding? Technology and social media are creating patterns and pathways of conflict that few people anticipated or even imagined just a decade ago. And we need to act quickly to contain the effects, but we don't have to reinvent the wheel. There are people, such as this episode’s guest, Shamil Idriss, CEO of the organization Search for Common Ground, who have been training for years to understand human beings and learn how to help them connect and begin healing processes. These experts can share their insights and help us figure out how to apply them to our new digital habitats. “Peace moves at the speed of trust, and trust can’t be fast-tracked,” says Shamil. Real change is possible, but as he explains, it takes patience, care, and creativity to get there. 

Apr 01, 2021
Disinformation Then and Now — with Camille François
00:55:45

Disinformation researchers have been fighting two battles over the last decade: one to combat and contain harmful information, and one to convince the world that these manipulations have an offline impact that requires complex, nuanced solutions. Camille François, Chief Information Officer at the cybersecurity company Graphika and an affiliate of the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, believes that our common understanding of the problem has recently reached a new level. In this interview, she catalogues the key changes she observed between studying Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and helping convene and operate the Election Integrity Partnership watchdog group before, during and after the 2020 election. “I'm optimistic, because I think that things that have taken quite a long time to land are finally landing, and because I think that we do have a diverse set of expertise at the table,” she says. Camille and Tristan Harris dissect the challenges and talk about the path forward to a healthy information ecosystem.

Mar 18, 2021
The Courage to Connect — with Ciaran O’Connor and John Wood, Jr.
01:00:01

It’s no revelation that Americans aren’t getting along. But it’s easier to diagnose the problem than come up with solutions. The organization Braver Angels runs workshops that convince Republicans and Democrats to meet, but not necessarily in the middle. “Conflict can actually be a pathway to intimacy and connection rather than division, if you have the right structure for bringing people together,” says Ciaran O’Connor, the organization’s Chief Marketing Officer. We’re delighted to have Ciaran and the Braver Angels National Ambassador John Wood, Jr. on the show to describe their methods, largely based on marriage counseling techniques, and talk about where to go next. “How do you scale that up and apply that to the digital space, given that that is the key battlefield?” asks John. Technology companies play a role here, and the wisdom of the people doing the work on the ground is a valuable guide.

Mar 04, 2021
A Renegade Solution to Extractive Economics — with Kate Raworth
01:26:15

When Kate Raworth began studying economics, she was disappointed that the mainstream version of the discipline didn’t fully address many of the world issues that she wanted to tackle, such as human rights and environmental destruction. She left the field, but was inspired to jump back in after the financial crisis of 2008, when she saw an opportunity to introduce fresh perspectives. She sat down and drew a chart in the shape of a doughnut, which provided a way to think about our economic system while accounting for the impact to the world around us, as well as for humans’ baseline needs. Kate’s framing can teach us a lot about how to transform the economic model of the technology industry, helping us move from a system that values addicted, narcissistic, polarized humans to one that values healthy, loving and collaborative relationships. Her book, “Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist,” gives us a guide for transitioning from a 20th-century paradigm to an evolved 21st-century one that will address our existential-scale problems.

Feb 11, 2021
Two Million Years in Two Hours: A Conversation with Yuval Noah Harari
01:59:48

Yuval Noah Harari is one of the rare historians who can give us a two-million-year perspective on today’s headlines. In this wide-ranging conversation, Yuval explains how technology and democracy have evolved together over the course of human history, from paleolithic tribes to city states to kingdoms to nation states. So where do we go from here? “In almost all the conversations I have,” Yuval says, “we get stuck in dystopia and we never explore the no less problematic questions of what happens when we avoid dystopia.” We push beyond dystopia and consider the nearly unimaginable alternatives in this special episode of Your Undivided Attention.

Jan 15, 2021
Won't You Be My Neighbor? A Civic Vision for the Internet — with Eli Pariser
00:48:25

You’ve heard us talk before on this podcast about the pitfalls of trying to moderate a “global public square.” Our guest today, Eli Pariser, co-director of Civic Signals, co-founder of Avaaz, and author of "The Filter Bubble," has been thinking for years about how to create more functional online spaces and is bringing people together to solve that problem. He believes the answer lies in creating spaces and groups intentionally, with the same kinds of skilled support and infrastructure that we would enlist in the physical world. It’s not enough to expect the big revenue-oriented tech companies to transform their tools into something less harmful; Eli is encouraging us to proactively gather in our own spaces, optimized for togetherness and cooperation.

Dec 23, 2020
Are the Kids Alright? — with Jonathan Haidt
00:40:35

We are in the midst of a teen mental health crisis. Since 2011, the rate of U.S. hospitalizations for preteen girls who have self-harmed is up 189 percent, and with older teen girls, it’s up 62 percent. Tragically, the numbers on suicides are similar — 151 percent higher for preteen girls, and 70 percent higher for older teen girls. NYU social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has spent the last few years trying to figure out why, working with fellow psychologist Jean Twenge, and he believes social media is to blame. Jonathan and Jean found that the mental health data show a stark contrast between Generation Z and Millennials, unlike any demographic divide researchers have seen since World War II, and the division tracks with a sharp rise in social media use. As Jonathan explains in this interview, disentangling correlation and causation is a persistent research challenge, and the debate on this topic is still in full swing. But as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and the next big thing fine-tune the manipulative and addictive features that pull teens in, we cannot afford to ignore this problem while we sit back and wait for conclusive results. When it comes to children, our standards need to be higher, and our burden of proof lower.

Oct 27, 2020
Your Nation's Attention for the Price of a Used Car — with Zahed Amanullah
00:43:17

Today’s extremists don’t need highly produced videos like ISIS. They don’t need deep pockets like Russia. With the right message, a fringe organization can reach the majority of a nation’s Facebook users for the price of a used car. Our guest, Zahed Amanullah, knows this firsthand. He’s a counter-terrorism expert at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and when his organization received $10,000 in ad credits from Facebook for an anti-extremism campaign, they were able to reach about two-thirds of Kenya’s Facebook users. It was a surprising win for Zahed, but it means nefarious groups all over the African continent have exactly the same broadcasting power. Last year, Facebook took down 66 accounts, 83 pages, 11 groups and 12 Instagram accounts related to Russian campaigns in African countries, and Russian networks spent more than $77,000 on Facebook ads in Africa. Today on the show, Zahed will explain how the very tools that extremists use to broadcast messages of hate can also be used to stop them in their tracks, and he’ll tell us what tech and government must do to systematically counter the problem. “If we don’t get in front of this,” he says, “this phenomenon is going to amplify beyond our reach.“

Oct 06, 2020
Bonus — The Social Dilemma
00:04:26

A new documentary called The Social Dilemma comes out on Netflix today, September 9, 2020. We hope that this film, full of interviews with tech insiders, will be a catalyst and tool for exposing how technology has been distorting our perception of the world, and will help us reach the shared ground we need to solve big problems together.

Sep 09, 2020
Facebook Goes '2Africa' — with Julie Owono
00:35:43

This summer, Facebook unveiled “2Africa,” a subsea cable project that will encircle nearly the entire continent of Africa — much to the surprise of Julie Owono. As Executive Director of Internet Without Borders, she’s seen how quickly projects like this can become enmeshed in local politics, as private companies dig through territorial waters, negotiate with local officials and gradually assume responsibility over vital pieces of national infrastructure. “It’s critical, now, that communities have a seat at the table,” Julie says. We ask her about the risks of tech companies leading us into an age of “digital colonialism,” and what she hopes to achieve as a newly appointed member of Facebook’s Oversight Board.

Sep 02, 2020
When Media Was for You and Me — with Fred Turner
00:37:07

In 1940, a group of 60 American intellectuals formed the Committee for National Morale. “They’ve largely been forgotten,” says Fred Turner, a professor of communications at Stanford University, but their work had a profound impact on public opinion. They produced groundbreaking films and art exhibitions. They urged viewers to stop, reflect and think for themselves, and in so doing, they developed a set of design principles that reimagined how media could make us feel more calm, reflective, empathetic; in short, more democratic.

Aug 06, 2020
Digital Democracy Is Within Reach — with Audrey Tang
00:46:33

Imagine a world where every country has a digital minister and technologically-enabled legislative bodies. Votes are completely transparent and audio and video of all conversations between lawmakers and lobbyists are available to the public immediately. Conspiracy theories are acted upon within two hours and replaced by humorous videos that clarify the truth. Imagine that expressing outrage about your local political environment turned into a participatory process where you were invited to solve that problem and even entered into a face to face group workshop. Does that sound impossible? It’s ambitious and optimistic, but that's everything that our guest this episode, Audrey Tang, digital minister of Taiwan, has been working on in her own country for many years. Audrey’s path into public service began in 2014 with her participation in the Sunflower Movement, a student-led protest in Taiwan’s parliamentary building, and she’s been building on that experience ever since, leading her country into a future of truly participatory digital democracy. 

Jul 23, 2020
Bonus — Beyond the Boycott
00:09:20

#StopHateforProfit is an important first step, but we need to go much further. 

Jul 10, 2020
The World According to Q — with Travis View
00:59:13

What would inspire someone to singlehandedly initiate an armed standoff on the Hoover Dam, or lead the police on a 100-mile-an-hour car chase while calling for help from an anonymous internet source, or travel hundreds of miles alone to shoot up a pizza parlor? The people who did these things were all connected to the decentralized cult-like internet conspiracy theory group called QAnon. Our guest this episode, Travis View, is a researcher, writer and podcast host who has spent the last few years trying to understand the people who’ve become wrapped up in QAnon and the concerning consequences as Q followers increasingly leave their screens and take extreme actions in the real world. As many as six candidates who support QAnon are running for Congress and will be on the ballot for the 2020 elections, threatening to upend long-held Republican establishment seats. This just happened to a five-term Republican congressman in Colorado. Travis warns that QAnon is an extremism problem, not a disinformation or political problem, and dismissing QAnon as a fringe threat underestimates how quickly their views can leapfrog into mainstream debates on the left and the right.

Jul 08, 2020
The Bully’s Pulpit — with Fadi Quran
00:55:53

The sound of bullies on social media can be deafening, but what about their victims? “They're just sitting there being pummeled and pummeled and pummeled,” says Fadi Quran. As the campaign director of Avaaz, a platform for 62 million activists worldwide, Fadi and his team go to great lengths to figure out exactly how social media is being weaponized against vulnerable communities, including those who have no voice online at all. “They can't report it. They’re not online.” Fadi says. “They can't even have a conversation about it.” But by bringing these voices of survivors to Silicon Valley, Fadi says, tech companies can not just hear the lethal consequences of algorithmic abuse, they can start hacking away at a system that Fadi argues was “designed for bullies.”

Jun 22, 2020
The Dictator's Playbook Revisited — with Maria Ressa (Rerun)
00:52:11

[This episode originally aired on November 5, 2019] Maria Ressa is arguably one of the bravest journalists working in the Philippines today. As co-founder and CEO of the media site Rappler, she has withstood death threats, multiple arrests and a rising tide of populist fury that she first saw on Facebook, in the form of a strange and jarring personal attack. Through her story, she reveals, play by play, how an aspiring strongman can use social media to spread falsehoods, sow confusion, intimidate critics and subvert democratic institutions. Nonetheless, she argues Silicon Valley can reverse these trends, and fast. First, tech companies must "wake up," she says, to the threats they've unleashed throughout the Global South. Second, they must recognize that social media is intrinsically designed to favor the strongman over the lone dissident and the propagandist over the truth-teller, which is why it has become the central tool in every aspiring dictator's playbook.

Jun 17, 2020
The Fake News of Your Own Mind — with Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman
00:49:22

When you’re gripped by anxiety, fear, grief or dread, how do you escape? It can happen in the span of a few breaths, according to meditation experts Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman. They have helped thousands of people find their way out of a mental loop, by moving deeper into it. It's a journey inward that reveals an important lesson for the architects of the attention economy: you cannot begin to build humane technology for billions of users, until you pay careful attention to the course of your own wayward thoughts.

Jun 02, 2020
The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to Saving the Planet — with Christiana Figueres
00:52:54

How can we feel empowered to take on global threats? The battle begins in our heads, argues Christiana Figueres. She became the United Nation’s top climate official, after she had watched the 2009 Copenhagen climate summit collapse “in blood, in screams, in tears.” In the wake of that debacle, she began performing an act of emotional Aikido on herself, her team and eventually delegates from 196 nations. She called it “stubborn optimism." It requires a clear and alluring vision of a future that can supplant the dystopian and discouraging vision of what will happen if the world fails to act. It was stubborn optimism, she says, that convinced those nations to sign the first global climate framework, the Paris Agreement. We explore how a similar shift in Silicon Valley's vision could lead 3 billion people to take action.

May 21, 2020
The Spin Doctors Are In — with Renée DiResta
00:52:57

How does disinformation spread in the age of COVID-19? It takes an expert like Renée DiResta to trace conspiracy theories back to their source. She’s already exposed how Russian state actors manipulated the 2016 election, but that was just a prelude to what she’s seeing online today: a convergence of state actors and lone individuals, anti-vaxxers and NRA supporters, scam artists and preachers and the occasional fan of cuddly pandas. What ties all of these disparate actors together is an information ecosystem that’s breaking down before our eyes. We explore what’s going wrong and what we must do to fix it in this interview with Renée DiResta, Research Manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory.

May 07, 2020
When Attention Went on Sale — with Tim Wu
00:45:22

An information system that relies on advertising was not born with the Internet. But social media platforms have taken it to an entirely new level, becoming a major force in how we make sense of ourselves and the world around us. Columbia law professor Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants and The Curse of Bigness, takes us through the birth of the eyeball-centric news model and ensuing boom of yellow journalism, to the backlash that rallied journalists and citizens around creating industry ethics and standards. Throughout the 20th century, radio, television, and even posters elicited excitement, hope, fear, skepticism and greed, and people worked together to create a patchwork of regulation and behavior that attempted to point those tools in the direction of good. The Internet has brought us to just such a crossroads again, but this time with global consequences that are truly life-and-death.

Apr 28, 2020
Changing Our Climate of Denial — with Anthony Leiserowitz
01:06:31

We agree more than we think we do, but tech platforms distort our perceptions by amplifying the loudest, angriest and most dismissive voices online. In reality, they’re just a noisy faction. This Earth Day we ask Anthony Leiserowitz, Director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, how he shifts public opinion on climate change. We’ll see how tech platforms could amplify voices of solidarity within our own communities. More importantly, we’ll see how they could empower 2 billion people to act in the face of global threats. 

Apr 22, 2020
Stranger than Fiction — with Claire Wardle
01:02:44

How can tech companies help flatten the curve? First and foremost, they must address the lethal misinformation and disinformation circulating on their platforms. The problem goes much deeper than fake news, according to Claire Wardle, co-founder and executive director of First Draft. She studies the gray zones of information warfare, where bad actors mix facts with falsehoods, news with gossip, and sincerity with satire. “Most of this stuff isn't fake and most of this stuff isn't news,” Claire argues. If these subtler forms of misinformation go unaddressed, tech companies may not only fail to flatten the curve — they could raise it higher. 

Mar 31, 2020
Mr. Harris Goes to Washington
00:42:10

What difference does a few hours of Congressional testimony make? Tristan takes us behind the scenes of his January 8th testimony to the Energy and Commerce Committee on disinformation in the digital age. With just minutes to answer each lawmaker’s questions, he speaks with Committee members about how the urgency and complexity of humane technology issues is an immense challenge. Tristan returned hopeful, and though it sometimes feels like Groundhog Day, each trip to DC reveals evolving conversations, advancing legislation, deeper understanding and stronger coalitions. 

Jan 30, 2020
Trust Falls — with Rachel Botsman
00:51:22

We are in the middle of a global trust crisis. Neighbors are strangers and local news sources are becoming scarcer; institutions that used to symbolize prestige, honor and a sense of societal security are ridiculed for being antiquated and out of touch. To replace the void, we turn to sharing economy companies and social media, which come up short, or worse. Our guest on this episode, academic and business advisor Rachel Botsman, guides us through how we got here, and how to recover. Botsman is the Trust Fellow at Oxford University, and the author of two books, including “Who Can You Trust?” The intangibility of trust makes it difficult to pin down, she explains, and she speaks directly to technology leaders about fostering communities and creating products the public is willing to put faith in. “The efficiency of technology is the enemy of trust,” she says.

Jan 14, 2020
The Cure for Hate — with Tony McAleer
00:41:17

“You can binge watch an ideology in a weekend,” says Tony McAleer. He should know. A former white supremacist, McAleer was introduced to neo-Nazi ideology through the U.K. punk scene in the 1980s. But after his daughter was born, he embarked on a decades-long journey from hate to compassion. Today’s technology, he says, make violent ideologies infinitely more accessible and appealing to those who long for acceptance. Social media isolates us and can incubate hate in a highly diffuse structure, making it nearly impossible to stop race-based violence without fanning the flames or driving it further underground. McAleer discusses solutions to this dilemma and the positive actions we can take together.

Dec 19, 2019
Rock the Voter — with Brittany Kaiser
00:52:20

Brittany Kaiser, a former Cambridge Analytica insider, witnessed a two day presentation at the company that shocked her and her co-workers. It laid out a new method of campaigning, in which candidates greet voters with a thousand faces and speak in a thousand tongues, automatically generating messages that are increasingly aiming toward an audience of one. She explains how these methods of persuasion have shaped elections worldwide, enabling candidates to sway voters in strange and startling ways.

Dec 05, 2019
The Dictator's Playbook — with Maria Ressa
00:50:44

Maria Ressa is arguably one of the bravest journalists working in the Philippines today. As co-founder and CEO of the media site Rappler, she has withstood death threats, multiple arrests and a rising tide of populist fury that she first saw on Facebook, in the form of a strange and jarring personal attack. Through her story, she reveals, play by play, how an aspiring strongman can use social media to spread falsehoods, sow confusion, intimidate critics and subvert democratic institutions. Nonetheless, she argues Silicon Valley can reverse these trends, and fast. First, tech companies must "wake up," she says, to the threats they've unleashed throughout the Global South. Second, they must recognize that social media is intrinsically designed to favor the strongman over the lone dissident and the propagandist over the truth-teller, which is why it has become the central tool in every aspiring dictator's playbook.

Nov 05, 2019
The Opposite of Addiction — with Johann Hari
00:48:58

What causes addiction? Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream, travelled some 30,000 miles in search of an answer. He met with researchers and lawmakers, drug dealers and drug makers, those who were struggling with substance abuse and those who had recovered from it, and he came to the conclusion that our whole narrative about addiction is broken.  "The opposite of addiction is not sobriety," he argues. "The opposite of addiction is connection." But first, we have to figure out what it really means to connect.

Oct 22, 2019
Pardon the Interruptions — with Gloria Mark
00:43:54

Every 40 seconds, our attention breaks. It takes an act of extreme self-awareness to even notice. That’s why Gloria Mark, a professor in the Department of Informatics at University of California, Irvine, started measuring the attention spans of office workers with scientific precision. What she has discovered is not simply an explosion of disruptive communications, but a pandemic of stress that has followed workers from their offices to their homes. She shares the latest findings from the “science of interruptions,” and how we can stop forfeiting our attention to the next notification, and the next one, ad nauseam.

 

Aug 14, 2019
From Russia with Likes (Part 2) — with Renée DiResta
00:28:53

In the second part of our interview with Renée DiResta, disinformation expert, Mozilla fellow, and co-author of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia investigation, she explains how social media platforms use your sense of identity and personal relationships to keep you glued to their sites longer, and how those design choices have political consequences. The online tools and tactics of foreign agents can be very precise and deliberate, but they don’t have to be -- Renée has seen how deception and uncertainty are powerful agents of distrust and easy to create. Do we really need the ease of global amplification of information-sharing that social media enables, anyway? We don’t want spam in our email inbox so why do we tolerate it in our social media feed?  What would happen if we had to copy and paste and click twice, or three times? Tristan and Aza also brainstorm ways to prevent and control disinformation in the lead-up to elections, and particularly the 2020 U.S. elections. 

Aug 01, 2019
From Russia with Likes (Part 1) — with Renée DiResta
00:45:47

Today’s online propaganda has evolved in unforeseeable and seemingly absurd ways; by laughing at or spreading a Kermit the Frog meme, you may be unwittingly advancing the Russian agenda. These campaigns affect our elections integrity, public health, and relationships. In this episode, the first of two parts, disinformation expert Renee DiResta talks with Tristan and Aza about how these tactics work, how social media platforms’ algorithms and business models allow foreign agents to game the system, and what these messages reveal to us about ourselves. Renee gained unique insight into this issue when in 2017 Congress asked her to lead a team of investigators analyzing a data set of texts, images and videos from Facebook, Twitter and Google thought to have been created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency. She shares what she learned, and in part two of their conversation, Renee, Tristan and Aza will discuss what steps can be taken to prevent this kind of manipulation in the future. 

Jul 24, 2019
Down the Rabbit Hole by Design — with Guillaume Chaslot
00:54:29

When we press play on a YouTube video, we set in motion an algorithm that taps all available data to find the next video that keeps us glued to the screen. Because of its advertising-based business model, YouTube’s top priority is not to help us learn to play the accordion, tie a bow tie, heal an injury, or see a new city — it’s to keep us staring at the screen for as long as possible, regardless of the content. This episode’s guest, AI expert Guillaume Chaslot, helped write YouTube’s recommendation engine and explains how those priorities spin up outrage, conspiracy theories and extremism. After leaving YouTube, Guillaume’s mission became shedding light on those hidden patterns on his website, AlgoTransparency.org, which tracks and publicizes YouTube recommendations for controversial content channels. Through his work, he encourages YouTube to take responsibility for the videos it promotes and aims to give viewers more control.

Jul 10, 2019
With Great Power Comes... No Responsibility? — with Yaёl Eisenstat
00:55:41

Aza sits down with Yael Eisenstat, a former CIA officer and a former advisor at the White House. When Yael noticed that Americans were having a harder and harder time finding common ground, she shifted her work from counter-extremism abroad to advising technology companies in the U.S. She believed as danger at home increased, her public sector experience could help fill a gap in Silicon Valley’s talent pool and chip away at the ways tech was contributing to polarization and election hacking. But when she joined Facebook in June 2018, things didn’t go as planned. Yael shares the lessons she learned and her perspective on government’s role in regulating tech, and Aza and Tristan raise questions about our relationships with these companies and the balance of power. 

Jun 25, 2019
Should've Stayed in Vegas — with Natasha Dow Schüll
00:39:11

In part two of our interview with cultural anthropologist Natasha Dow Schüll, author of Addiction by Design, we learn what gamblers are really after a lot of the time — it’s not money. And it’s the same thing we’re looking for when we mindlessly open up Facebook or Twitter. How can we design products so that we’re not taking advantage of these universal urges and vulnerabilities but using them to help us? Tristan, Aza and Natasha explore ways we could shift our thinking about making and using technology.

Jun 19, 2019
What Happened in Vegas — with Natasha Dow Schüll
00:40:51

Natasha Dow Schüll, author of Addiction by Design, has spent years studying how slot machines hold gamblers spellbound, in an endless loop of play. She never imagined the addictive designs which she had first witnessed in Las Vegas would go bounding into Silicon Valley and reappear on virtually every smartphone screen worldwide. In the first segment of this two-part interview, Natasha Dow Schüll offers a prescient warning to users and designers alike: How far can the attention economy go toward stealing another moment of your time? Farther than you might imagine. 

Jun 10, 2019
Launching June 10: Your Undivided Attention
00:03:16

Technology has shredded our attention. We can do better.

Apr 16, 2019