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Your Undivided Attention

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Your Undivided Attention

Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin, The Center for Humane Technology

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In this podcast from the Center for Humane Technology, co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin confront catastrophic risk with existential hope. How is technology both a symptom and a driver of broader social, political, and economic forces? How do we reimagine humane technology that supports our shared well-being, sense-making, and ability to tackle complex global challenges? And what can we do together to catalyze a more humane future? Tristan and Aza will treat your attention with care as ...
 
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In this episode, Lucy Kind interviews Aza Raskin, the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, and the co-founder and executive director of the Earth Species Project. Aza grew up in Silicon Valley (his father started the Macintosh project at Apple) and began his career at Mozilla where he was the inventor of the infinite scroll. Lucy asks hi…
 
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 …
 
In Episode 10, Dr. David Bray brings us on a journey into the future of privacy, from ransomware to sith lords. David is a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council as well as the Stimson Center, and principal at LeadDoAdapt Ventures. David began working for the government at age 15 and has an impressive range of expertise including cybersecurit…
 
In episode 9, Henry Holtzman interviews Alex Feerst, who served as head of trust and safety at Medium and general counsel at Neuralink. Currently, he is the CEO of Murmuration Labs and also sits on the board of the MobileCoin Foundation. Alex shares why the backstage should be front and center, explaining Erving Goffman's fantastic "backstage" meta…
 
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 sh…
 
In episode 8, MobileCoin's head of business development Brady Forrest interviews Jillian York. Jillian is the Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and she just wrote a new book called Silicon Values: The Future of Free Speech Under Surveillance Capitalism. Brady and Jillian discuss why companies li…
 
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 Hau…
 
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 t…
 
In episode 7, Lucy Kind interviews Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, a refugee of the Iraq Civil War, whose life's work is facilitating the freedom of information and knowledge in authoritarian nations in the Middle East. Faisal shares his experience growing up under the regime of Saddam Hussein without free access to information. He explains how he created I…
 
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 l…
 
On episode 6, Joshua Goldbard interviews Tony Nguyen, the founder of the American Young Leader Exchange (AYLX), an organization that provides free cultural exchange experiences for high school students. Through his work with AYLX, Tony thinks deeply about how information silos are created and how they can be deconstructed through cultural exchange.…
 
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 an…
 
In this episode, MobileCoin's Chief Product Officer Henry Holtzman interviews Jon Swartz, senior reporter at Marketwatch covering the biggest players in tech. Jon lays out the incoming wave of anti-tech legislation that is currently winding its way through the government... buckle up, there are some big changes ahead! Henry and Jon discuss how Appl…
 
In this episode, Josh Goldbard interviews Isis Agora Lovecruft. Isis is a non-binary cryptographer known for developing Tor and the dalek cryptography library. They share their experience growing up with hacker parents and using math as a tool to cope with mental health challenges. Isis describes the unique sensation of feeling like their body chan…
 
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…
 
In episode 3, MobileCoin Director of Marketing Lucy Kind interviews Michal Kosinski, a professor of psychology researching artificial intelligence and the risks it poses to privacy. Michal tells us about what action he took against Cambridge Analytica when it became synonymous with the destruction of privacy. He also explains how facial recognition…
 
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 brea…
 
In episode 2, MobileCoin's Chief Product Officer Henry Holtzman interviews Peter Eckersley, a leading thinker on AI ethics. Peter and Henry discuss the challenges in shifting from machine learning algorithms that purely serve the interests of capitalism to AI and tech that benefits the user and society at large. Peter explains why he's optimistic a…
 
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 w…
 
In the premiere episode of Privacy is the New Celebrity, MobileCoin founder Josh Goldbard interviews author and technologist Ramez Naam. Ramez is best known as the author of The Nexus Trilogy, but his current focus is clean energy technology with an emphasis on solar energy. Josh and Ramez discuss drones, AI, the 4th amendment, and the relationship…
 
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 proble…
 
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 proble…
 
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 …
 
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 thi…
 
[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 sc…
 
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 "…
 
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 …
 
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 t…
 
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 hav…
 
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 opportuni…
 
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? …
 
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…
 
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 psyc…
 
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 Dial…
 
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, nego…
 
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 thin…
 
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…
 
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 intern…
 
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 weaponize…
 
[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 person…
 
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 arch…
 
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 hers…
 
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 …
 
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…
 
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 …
 
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 acto…
 
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…
 
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