Published July 2021 on YouTube

533: Tristan Harris | Reclaiming Our Future with Humane Technology

1. Introduction

The Cost of Attention:Tristan, a former Google design and technology ethicist, discusses the harmful effects of technology on our attention and the business models that rely on addiction, distraction, and polarization. He emphasizes the importance of being aware of these tactics and taking control of our attention to become better critical thinkers.+
Social Media's Impact:Jordan discusses the impact of social media on society with guest Tristan Harris, highlighting the dangers of misinformation and how technology is designed to control our choices. They also touch on the prevalence of conspiracy theories and the difficulty in finding truth in a sea of irrelevance.+

2. Social Media Manipulation

Social Dilemma Antidote:Tristan estimates that over a hundred million people watched The Social Dilemma. The insiders in the film understand the risks being created in society by this out of control machine. There isn't an easy set of fixes that Mark Zuckerberg can just go in and tweak it.+
The Dark Side:Tristan Harris explains how technology, particularly social media, has the power to manipulate human behavior and attention, and how this has led to negative consequences such as the spread of misinformation, destabilizing democracies, and even genocide. He discusses the design changes that have occurred over time and how they have contributed to these issues.+

3. Facebook's Psychological Cocktail

Facebook's Psychological Cocktail:Tristan explains how Facebook's features, such as photo tagging, are designed to manipulate users into constantly checking the app, resulting in a psychological cocktail that keeps users engaged.+
Social Media Manipulation:Tristan explains how social media platforms manipulate human weaknesses through various techniques like the photo slideshow and personalization of news. This leads to the creation of filter bubbles, reinforcing existing biases and worldviews, and making everyone live in their own reality.+

4. Personalized Information

Personalized Information:Tristan explains how social media tailors information to individuals, creating a hyper-personalized experience that makes it difficult for people to engage with topics outside of their interests. He also discusses how Facebook's mission statement changed to focus on groups, and how this affects the content that users see.+
Facebook's Group Recommendations:Tristan explains how Facebook's algorithm recommended anti-vaccine groups to new mothers who joined a group about making organic baby food. Facebook's algorithm identifies persuasive content and recommends it to users, causing millions of new moms to join anti-vaccine groups.+

5. Social Media's Reality

Social Media's Reality:Tristan explains how social media constructs our reality and how it recommends groups that lead to conspiracy theories. He also talks about how different people see different things on social media, making it difficult to have a unified reality.+
Social Media's Manipulation:Tristan Harris discusses the dangers of social media's manipulation and how it has led to the distortion of reality. He explains how algorithm-driven companies like Google and Facebook use their knowledge of our psychological weaknesses to keep us stuck in a never-ending cycle of scrolling and clicking.+

6. The Power of Predictive Technology

Tristan discusses the asymmetry of knowledge between humans and machines, where technology can predict our actions before we make them. He explains how this affects our sense of agency and free will, and the implications it has on our daily lives.+

7. Sponsors

Tristan discusses the benefits of online therapy with Jordan, emphasizing how it can help people improve their mental health and relationships.+

8. Misaligned Technology Incentives

Misaligned Technology Incentives:Jordan and Tristan discuss how the incentives of technology companies are not aligned with the public good, leading to disinformation and a fragmented society. The business model of selecting for addicting, distracting, and polarizing content creates a dystopian world where the worst version of ourselves is profitable.+
The Climate Change of Culture:Tristan Harris, founder of the Center for Humane Technology, discusses the negative impact of technology on society and compares it to the extractive business model of Exxon. He argues that we need to consciously use technology to make a stronger, healthier, and better open society that works better together. Jordan Harbinger suggests optimizing devices and social media to give us the highest possible return that is actually good for us. However, the inability to measure positive outcomes is a major problem.+

9. Measuring Impact

Measuring Impact:Tristan discusses the difficulty of measuring genuine learning and connection on social media platforms, and suggests ways in which companies could measure the impact of their technology on users' lives. He highlights the importance of spending time meaningfully and in connection with the things that matter most to us, including people who we can't see very often but care about.+
The Dark Corner:Tristan Harris discusses the invisible corner of YouTube that could be used to create uplifting and inspiring content. He also talks about the need for technology to be in conversation with our deeper selves, rather than just our surface-level actions. Additionally, he explains why social media and mobile phones are more dangerous than previous forms of media, and the need for a new discipline to manage the effects of technology on human behavior.+

10. Influencer Society

Influencer Society:Tristan explains how social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram actively cultivate the influencer lifestyle because it's more profitable for them. He argues that a society filled with narcissism-seeking, validation-seeking influencers is not compatible with the future we want to live in and cannot solve its problems.+
The Third Attractor:Tristan Harris discusses the need for a new third attractor in society, one that consciously uses technology to create a stronger and healthier open system. He explains that this is not about being anti-technology, but rather finding a more humane and symbiotic relationship between technology and democracy. Jordan Harbinger raises concerns about the addictive and dangerous nature of online consumption and its potential to polarize and radicalize society.+
The Digital Takeover:Tristan explains how social media has become a fundamental part of our lives, taking over the physical world and becoming a dominant force in society. He compares it to addictive games like FarmVille, but emphasizes that social media has become a brain implant that affects who we are as individuals and as a society. He warns of the dangers of the primacy of the digital world and the need to be watchful.+

11. Sponsors

Energy Boosters:Jordan and Jen Harbinger share their favorite energy boosters in this episode's sponsored segments. Starbucks Tripleshot Energy and Knob Creek Bourbon encourage listeners to take a break and enjoy the happiest hour of the day.+
Cybercrime and Identity Theft:Jordan Harbinger and Jen Harbinger discuss the importance of protecting yourself from cybercrime and identity theft, and how LifeLock can help detect potential threats and alert you to take action. They also encourage listeners to support the show's advertisers who make the podcast possible.+

12. Tech's Redesign

The Tech Apocalypse:Jordan and Tristan discuss how tech companies like Google are focused on monetizing our attention and hacking our brains, instead of solving global issues like climate change and the pandemic. They delve into the apocalyptic reality we are living in and how we need to work together to change the social norms and reverse engineer the human nervous system.+
Redesigning Tech:Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google, discusses the need for a redesign of the tech industry's business model. He proposes a shift towards "helpers" that compete to improve our lives, rather than apps that compete for our attention. He emphasizes the importance of finding a symbiosis between technology and humanity, and the potential for tech to solve global problems.Show transcript +

13. Tech and Democracy

Tech and Democracy:Tristan discusses the potential for technology to create more humane social norms and strengthen democracy, using Taiwan as an example of successful implementation. He emphasizes the importance of believing in a future other than the one we are heading towards and immersing ourselves in positive examples of tech and democracy at work.+
Resisting Tech's Control:Tristan Harris discusses the potential for change in the tech industry and the importance of resisting its negative effects. He emphasizes the need for public awareness and action to prevent technology from becoming too powerful and controlling human behavior.+

14. Social Media's Impact

Social Media Dilemma:Tristan Harris discusses the impact of social media on society and the need for unprecedented change to address the issue. He draws parallels to historical movements and advocates for everyone to speak up about these issues. Jordan Harbinger agrees and emphasizes the importance of ensuring our children do not inherit this dysfunction.+
Social Media's Filter Bubble:Tristan and Jordan discuss how social media's algorithm creates a filter bubble, leading to extreme content and misinformation. They recommend watching The Social Dilemma and Jaron Lanier's episode on the topic. The conversation highlights the need to take action before social media becomes a runaway AI.+
The Dangers of Social Media:Jordan discusses the dangers of deepfakes and conspiracy theories, and how social media algorithms are being used to sow division and start armed violent conflicts. He also talks about how social media platforms are designed to exploit our base instincts and how we should stop following outrage media.+

15. Outro

Jordan discusses how social media is tailored to each individual user, creating a personalized reality that keeps them engaged. He recommends watching Tristan's documentary, The Social Dilemma, and highlights Childhood 2.0 and the Center for Humane Technology's podcast, Your Undivided Attention. Jordan also reminds listeners to share the show with those who may benefit from learning about the negative effects of social media.+