Silicon Valley, CA (STL.News) Technology has provided countless advancements to the planet, for thousands of years. From growth in science and health, to fashion, the arts, and of course, social media, technology has connected the world profoundly and intimately. But now, this question is often posed: what about the “dark side” of technology?
In a society so dependent on computers, smart phones, and social media to simply communicate with co-workers, friends, and relatives, for news, and for entertainment, it is no wonder why humans are becoming increasingly attached to technology. It is a growing fear amongst many that we are addicted to our phones, our TVs, and our computers and that the habit will continue for future generations. So much so, that even co-creator of the iPhone, Tony Fadell says that the phone has ultimately become too addicting.
That is why former employees of tech empires Google and Facebook are pleading companies in the tech industry to be more cognizant of the effects they have on humanity in the modern day. The Center of Humane Technology is a new organization designed to spread awareness of the dangers of tech overload. It may seem ironic that former employees of tech companies are now speaking out, however, they know the effects first-hand.
Former designer for Google, Tristan Harris is one of the founders of The Center for Humane Technology, and known for speaking out to the tech community to encourage designers to create apps that benefit humanity. Other members of the organization include former senior platform manager at Facebook, Dave Morin, and Justin Rosenstein, who helped create the like button on Facebook.
The Center for Human Technology has partnered up with the nonprofit, Common Sense to educate consumers about the dangers of technology. The organizations are also advocating through an ad campaign called “Truth About Tech”, that will outreach to 55,000 schools nationwide. Common Sense CEO and founder James P. Steyer spoke about his position stating, “We are not anti-tech…we are into the appropriate and balanced use of technology. We are calling out the industry for their excesses and their intentional effects to manipulate and addict”. Efforts of the campaign include “legislative and regulatory lobbying efforts”.
Roger McNamee, former mentor of Mark Zuckerberg and advisor of the Center for Human Technology organization expressed his perspective as well. McNamee stated that the organization’s goal is to “empower people who are concerned about the dark side of technology” and that Facebook’s “profits definitely come before people.” McNamee continued to speak about Facebook and Google, saying that he is “terrified by the damage being done.” One of the events that he mentioned included Russia’s interference with the U.S. election.
Harris told CNN tech about his worries that tech “economy was becoming a ‘public health concern’”. He continued on to state, “Technologists, engineers, and designers have the power and responsibility to hold themselves accountable and build products that create a better world… They’ve created the attention economy and are now engaged in a full-blown arms race to capture and retain human attention, including the attention of kids.”
The Truth about Tech campaign has gained support of networks such as Comcast and DIRECTV, while $7 million has been funded by Common Sense and money raised from the Center for Humane Technology.
It is important for leaders in industries that have a global presence, to remember to focus on the best intentions of the viewer, because at the end of the day, technology impacts us all.