Your Undivided Attention

Technology companies are locked in an arms race to seize your attention, and that race is tearing apart our shared social fabric. In this inaugural podcast from the Center for Humane Technology, hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin will expose the hidden designs that have the power to hijack our attention, manipulate our choices and destabilize our real world communities. They’ll explore what it means to become sophisticated about human nature, by interviewing hypnotists, magicians, experts on the dynamics of cults and election hacking and the powers of persuasion. How can we escape this unrelenting race to the bottom of the brain stem? Start by subscribing to our new series, Your Undivided Attention.

Come Together Right Now

Your Undivided Attention

  • about 2 months ago
  • 01:16:49

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.

Disinformation Then and Now

Your Undivided Attention

  • about 2 months ago
  • 55:44

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.

The Courage to Connect

Your Undivided Attention

  • 2 months ago
  • 01:00:00

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.

A Renegade Solution to Extractive Economics

Your Undivided Attention

  • 3 months ago
  • 01:26:14

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.

Two Million Years in Two Hours: A Conversation with Yuval Noah Harari

Your Undivided Attention

  • 4 months ago
  • 01:59:47

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.

Won't You Be My Neighbor? A Civic Vision for the Internet

Your Undivided Attention

  • 5 months ago
  • 48:24

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.