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Your Undivided Attention

English, Technology, 1 seasons, 102 episodes, 3 days 56 minutes
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.
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2023 Ask Us Anything

You asked, we answered. This has been a big year in the world of tech, with the rapid proliferation of artificial intelligence, acceleration of neurotechnology, and continued ethical missteps of social media. Looking back on 2023, there are still so many questions on our minds, and we know you have a lot of questions too. So we created this episode to respond to listener questions and to reflect on what lies ahead.Correction: Tristan mentions that 41 Attorneys General have filed a lawsuit against Meta for allegedly fostering addiction among children and teens through their products. However, the actual number is 42 Attorneys General who are taking legal action against Meta.Correction: Tristan refers to Casey Mock as the Center for Humane Technology’s Chief Policy and Public Affairs Manager. His title is Chief Policy and Public Affairs Officer.RECOMMENDED MEDIA <a href="
30/11/202335 minutes 7 seconds
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The Promise and Peril of Open Source AI with Elizabeth Seger and Jeffrey Ladish

As AI development races forward, a fierce debate has emerged over open source AI models. So what does it mean to open-source AI? Are we opening Pandora’s box of catastrophic risks? Or is open-sourcing AI the only way we can democratize its benefits and dilute the power of big tech? Correction: When discussing the large language model Bloom, Elizabeth said it functions in 26 different languages. Bloom is actually able to generate text in 46 natural languages and 13 programming languages - and more are in the works. RECOMMENDED MEDIA Open-Sourcing Highly Capable Foundation ModelsThis report, co-authored by Elizabeth Seger, attempts to clarify open-source terminology and to offer a thorough analysis of risks and benefits from open-sourcing AIBadLlama: cheaply removing safety fine-tuning from Llama 2-Ch
21/11/202338 minutes 44 seconds
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A First Step Toward AI Regulation with Tom Wheeler

On Monday, Oct. 30, President Biden released a sweeping executive order that addresses many risks of artificial intelligence. Tom Wheeler, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, shares his insights on the order with Tristan and Aza and discusses what’s next in the push toward AI regulation. Clarification: When quoting Thomas Jefferson, Aza incorrectly says “regime” instead of “regimen.” The correct quote is: “I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. And as that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered, and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regime of their barbarous ancestors.”
02/11/202335 minutes 24 seconds
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Why AI Bias is Existential with Dr. Joy Buolamwini

In this interview, Dr. Joy Buolamwini argues that algorithmic bias in AI systems poses an existential risk to marginalized people. She challenges the assumptions of tech leaders who advocate for AI “alignment” and explains why tech companies are hypocritical when it comes to addressing bias. Dr. Joy Buolamwini is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League and the author of “Unmasking AI: My Mission to Protect What Is Human in a World of Machines.”Correction: Aza says that Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, predicts superintelligence in four years. Altman predicts superintelligence in ten years. RECOMMENDED MEDIAUnmasking AI by Joy Buolamwini“The conscience of the AI revolution” explains how we’ve arrived at an era of AI harms and oppression, and what we can do to avoid its pitfalls<a href="https://www.codedbias.c
26/10/202347 minutes 46 seconds
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Mustafa Suleyman Says We Need to Contain AI. How Do We Do It?

This is going to be the most productive decade in the history of our species, says Mustafa Suleyman, author of “The Coming Wave,” CEO of Inflection AI, and founder of Google’s DeepMind. But in order to truly reap the benefits of AI, we need to learn how to contain it. Paradoxically, part of that will mean collectively saying no to certain forms of progress. As an industry leader reckoning with a future that’s about to be ‘turbocharged’  Mustafa says we can all play a role in shaping the technology in hands-on ways and by advocating for appropriate governance.RECOMMENDED MEDIA The Coming Wave: Technology, Power, and the 21st Century’s Greatest DilemmaThis new book from Mustafa Suleyman is a must-read guide to the technological revolution just starting, and the transformed world it will createPartnership on AIPartnership on AI is bringing together diverse
28/09/202332 minutes 4 seconds
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Inside the First AI Insight Forum in Washington

Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer brought together Congress and many of the biggest names in AI for the first closed-door AI Insight Forum in Washington, D.C. Tristan and Aza were invited speakers at the event, along with Elon Musk, Satya Nadella, Sam Altman, and other leaders. In this update on Your Undivided Attention, Tristan and Aza recount how they felt the meeting went, what they communicated in their statements, and what it felt like to critique Meta’s LLM in front of Mark Zuckerberg.Correction: In this episode, Tristan says GPT-3 couldn’t find vulnerabilities in code. GPT-3 could find security vulnerabilities, but GPT-4 is exponentially better at it.RECOMMENDED MEDIA In Show of Force, Silicon Valley Titans Pledge ‘Getting This Right’ With A.I.Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Picha
19/09/202326 minutes 48 seconds
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Spotlight on AI: What Would It Take For This to Go Well?

Where do the top Silicon Valley AI researchers really think  AI is headed? Do they have a plan if things go wrong?  In this episode, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin reflect on the last several months of highlighting AI risk, and share their insider takes on a high-level workshop run by CHT in Silicon Valley. Note: Tristan refers to journalist Maria Ressa and mentions that she received 80 hate messages per hour at one point. She actually received more than 90 messages an hour.RECOMMENDED MEDIA Musk, Zuckerberg, Gates: The titans of tech will talk AI at private Capitol summitThis week will feature a series of public hearings on artificial intelligence. But all eyes will be on the closed-door gathering convened by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer<a href="
12/09/202343 minutes 46 seconds
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The AI ‘Race’: China vs. the US with Jeffrey Ding and Karen Hao

In the debate over slowing down AI, we often hear the same argument against regulation.   “What about China? We can’t let China get ahead.” To dig into the nuances of this argument, Tristan and Aza speak with academic researcher Jeffrey Ding and journalist Karen Hao, who take us through what’s really happening in Chinese AI development. They address China’s advantages and limitations, what risks are overblown, and what, in this multi-national competition, is at stake as we imagine the best possible future for everyone.RECOMMENDED MEDIA Recent Trends in China’s Large Language Model Landscape by Jeffrey Ding and Jenny W. XiaoThis study covers a sample of 26 large-scale pre-trained AI models developed in ChinaThe diffusion deficit in scient
31/08/202345 minutes 49 seconds
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Esther Perel on Artificial Intimacy

For all the talk about AI, we rarely hear about how it will change our relationships. As we swipe to find love and consult chatbot therapists, acclaimed psychotherapist and relationship expert Esther Perel warns that there’s another harmful “AI” on the rise — Artificial Intimacy — and how it is depriving us of real connection. Tristan and Esther discuss how depending on algorithms can fuel alienation, and then imagine how we might design technology to strengthen our social bonds.RECOMMENDED MEDIA Mating in Captivity by Esther PerelEsther's debut work on the intricacies behind modern relationships, and the dichotomy of domesticity and sexual desireThe State of Affairs by Esther PerelEsther takes a look at modern relationships through the lens of infidelityWhere Should We Begin? with Est
17/08/202344 minutes 7 seconds
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Protecting Our Freedom of Thought with Nita Farahany

We are on the cusp of an explosion of cheap,  consumer-ready neurotechnology - from earbuds that gather our behavioral data,  to sensors that can read our dreams. And it’s all going to be supercharged by AI. This technology is moving from niche to mainstream - and it has the same potential to become exponential. Legal scholar Nita Farahany talks us through the current state of neurotechnology and its deep links to AI. She says that we urgently need to protect the last frontier of privacy: our internal thoughts. And she argues that without a new legal framework around “cognitive liberty,” we won’t be able to insulate our brains from corporate and government intrusion.RECOMMENDED MEDIA The Battle for Your Brain: Defending the Right to Think Freely in the Age of Neurotechnology by Nita FarahanyThe Battle for Your Brain offers a path forward to navigate the complex dilemmas tha
03/08/202344 minutes 7 seconds
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Social Media Victims Lawyer Up with Laura Marquez-Garrett

Social media was humanity’s ‘first contact’ moment with AI. If we’re going to create laws that are strong enough to prevent AI from destroying our societies, we could benefit from taking a look at the major lawsuits against social media platforms that are playing out in our courts right now.In our last episode, we took a close look at Big Food and its dangerous “race to the bottom” that parallels AI. We continue that theme this week with an episode about litigating social media and the consequences of the race to engagement in order to inform how we can approach AI harms. Our guest, attorney Laura Marquez-Garrett, left her predominantly defense-oriented practice to join the Social Media Victims Law Center in February 2022. Laura is literally on the front lines of the battle to hold social media firms accountable for the harms they have created in young people’s lives for the past decade. Listener warning: ther
21/07/202334 minutes 54 seconds
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Big Food, Big Tech and Big AI with Michael Moss

In the next two episodes of Your Undivided Attention, we take a close look at two respective industries: big food and social media, which represent dangerous “races to the bottom” and have big parallels with AI.  And we are asking: what can our past mistakes and missed opportunities teach us about how we should approach AI harms? In this first episode, Tristan talks to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Michael Moss. His book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us rocked the fast food industry when it came out in 2014. Tristan and Michael discuss how we can leverage the lessons learned from Big Food’s coordination failures, and whether it’s the responsibility of the consumer, the government, or the companies to regulate. RECOMMENDED MEDIA Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked UsMichael’s New York Times bestseller. You’ll never look
06/07/202334 minutes 43 seconds
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What Can Technologists Learn from Sesame Street? With Dr. Rosemarie Truglio

What happens when creators consider what lifelong human development looks like in terms of the tools we make? And what philosophies from Sesame Street can inform how to steward the power of AI and social media to influence minds in thoughtful, humane directions?When the first episode of Sesame Street aired on PBS in 1969, it was unlike anything that had been on television before - a collaboration between educators, child psychologists, comedy writers and puppeteers - all working together to do something that had never been done before: create educational content for children on television. Fast-forward to the present: could we switch gears to reprogram today’s digital tools to   humanely educate the next generation? That’s the question Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin explore with Dr. Rosemarie Truglio, the Senior Vice President of Curriculum and Content for the Sesame Workshop, the non-profit behind Sesame Street. RECOMMENDED ME
22/06/202329 minutes 36 seconds
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Spotlight: How Zombie Values Infect Society

You’re likely familiar with the modern zombie trope: a zombie bites someone you care about and they’re transformed into a creature who wants your brain. Zombies are the perfect metaphor to explain something Tristan and Aza have been thinking about lately that they call zombie values.In this Spotlight episode of Your Undivided Attention, we talk through some examples of how zombie values limit our thinking around tech harms. Our hope is that by the end of this episode, you'll be able to recognize the zombie values that walk amongst us, and think through how to upgrade these values to meet the realities of our modern world. RECOMMENDED MEDIA Is the First Amendment Obsolete?This essay explores free expression challengesThe Wisdom Gap</p
08/06/202322 minutes 56 seconds
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Feed Drop: AI Doomsday with Kara Swisher

There’s really no one better than veteran tech journalist Kara Swisher at challenging people to articulate their thinking. Tristan Harrris recently sat down with her for a wide ranging interview on AI risk. She even pressed Tristan on whether he is a doomsday prepper. It was so great, we wanted to share it with you here. The interview was originally on Kara’s podcast ON with Kara Swisher. If you like it and want to hear more of Kara’s interviews with folks like Sam Altman, Reid Hoffman and others, you can find more episodes of ON with Kara Swisher here: YUA EPISODES AI Myths and MisconceptionsThe AI DilemmaThe Three Rules of
02/06/202355 minutes 34 seconds
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The Tech We Need for 21st Century Democracy with Divya Siddarth

Democracy in action has looked the same for generations. Constituents might go to a library or school every one or two years and cast their vote for people who don't actually represent everything that they care about. Our technology is rapidly increasing in sophistication, yet our forms of democracy have largely remained unchanged. What would an upgrade look like - not just for democracy, but for all the different places that democratic decision-making happens?On this episode of Your Undivided Attention, we’re joined by political economist and social technologist Divya Siddarth, one of the world's leading experts in collective intelligence. Together we explore how new kinds of governance can be supported through better technology, and how collective decision-making is key to unlocking everything from more effective elections to better ways of responding to global problems like climate change.Correction:Tris
25/05/202338 minutes 39 seconds
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Spotlight: AI Myths and Misconceptions

A few episodes back, we presented Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin’s talk The AI Dilemma. People inside the companies that are building generative artificial intelligence came to us with their concerns about the rapid pace of deployment and the problems that are emerging as a result. We felt called to lay out the catastrophic risks that AI poses to society and sound the alarm on the need to upgrade our institutions for a post-AI world.The talk resonated - over 1.6 million people have viewed it on YouTube as of this episode’s release date. The positive reception gives us hope that leaders will be willing to come to the table for a difficult but necessary conversation about AI.However, now that so many people have watched or listened to the talk, we’ve found that there are some AI myths gett
11/05/202326 minutes 48 seconds
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Talking With Animals… Using AI

Despite our serious concerns about the pace of deployment of generative artificial intelligence, we are not anti-AI. There are uses that can help us better understand ourselves and the world around us. Your Undivided Attention co-host Aza Raskin is also co-founder of Earth Species Project, a nonprofit dedicated to using AI to decode non-human communication. ESP is developing this technology both to shift the way that we relate to the rest of nature, and to accelerate conservation research.Significant recent breakthroughs in machine learning have opened ways to encode both human languages and map out patterns of animal communication. The research, while slow and incredibly complex, is very exciting. Picture being able to tell a whale to dive to avoid ship strikes, or to forge cooperation in conservation areas. These advances come with their own complex ethi
04/05/202324 minutes 1 second
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Can We Govern AI?

When it comes to AI, what kind of regulations might we need to address this rapidly developing new class of technologies? What makes regulating AI and runaway tech in general different from regulating airplanes, pharmaceuticals, or food? And how can we ensure that issues like national security don't become a justification for sacrificing civil rights?Answers to these questions are playing out in real time. If we wait for more AI harms to emerge before proper regulations are put in place, it may be too late. Our guest Marietje Schaake was at the forefront of crafting tech regulations for the EU. In spite of AI’s complexity, she argues there is a path forward for the U.S. and other governing bodies to rein in companies that continue to release these products into the world without oversight. Correction: Marietje said antitrust laws in the US were a century ahead of those in the EU. Competition law in the EU was enacted as part of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, almost
21/04/202339 minutes 47 seconds
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Spotlight: The Three Rules of Humane Tech

In our previous episode, we shared a presentation Tristan and Aza recently delivered to a group of influential technologists about the race happening in AI. In that talk, they introduced the Three Rules of Humane Technology. In this Spotlight episode, we’re taking a moment to explore these three rules more deeply in order to clarify what it means to be a responsible technologist in the age of AI.Correction: Aza mentions infinite scroll being in the pockets of 5 billion people, implying that there are 5 billion smartphone users worldwide. The number of smartphone users worldwide is actually 6.8 billion now. RECOMMENDED MEDIA We Think in 3D. Social Media Should, TooTristan Harris writes about a simple visual experiment that demonstrates the power of one’s point of viewLet’s Think About Slowing D
06/04/202322 minutes 17 seconds
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The AI Dilemma

You may have heard about the arrival of GPT-4, OpenAI’s latest large language model (LLM) release. GPT-4 surpasses its predecessor in terms of reliability, creativity, and ability to process intricate instructions. It can handle more nuanced prompts compared to previous releases, and is multimodal, meaning it was trained on both images and text. We don’t yet understand its capabilities - yet it has already been deployed to the public.At Center for Humane Technology, we want to close the gap between what the world hears publicly about AI from splashy CEO presentations and what the people who are closest to the risks and harms inside AI labs are telling us. We translated their concerns into a cohesive story and presented the resulting slides to heads of institutions and major media organizations in New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. The talk you're about to hear is the culmination of that work, which is ongoing.AI may he
24/03/202342 minutes 25 seconds
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TikTok’s Transparency Problem

A few months ago on Your Undivided Attention, we released a Spotlight episode on TikTok's national security risks. Since then, we've learned more about the dangers of the China-owned company: We've seen evidence of TikTok spying on US journalists, and proof of hidden state media accounts to influence the US elections. We’ve seen Congress ban TikTok on most government issued devices, and more than half of US states have done the same, along with dozens of US universities who are banning TikTok access from university wifi networks. More people in Western governments and media are saying that they used to believe that TikTok was an overblown threat. As we've seen more evidence of  national security risks play out, there’s even talk of banning TikTok itself in certain countries. But is that the best solution? If we opt for a ban, how do we, as open societies, fight accusations of authoritarianism? On this episode of <
02/03/202337 minutes 13 seconds
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Synthetic Humanity: AI & What’s At Stake

It may seem like the rise of artificial intelligence, and increasingly powerful large language models you may have heard of, is moving really fast… and it IS. But what’s coming next is when we enter synthetic relationships with AI that could come to feel just as real and important as our human relationships... And perhaps even more so. In this episode of Your Undivided Attention, Tristan and Aza reach beyond the moment to talk about this powerful new AI, and the new paradigm of humanity and computation we’re about to enter. This is a structural revolution that affects way more than text, art, or even Google search. There are huge benefits to humanity, and we’ll discuss some of those. But we also see that as companies race to develop the best synthetic relationships, we are setting ourselves up for a new generation of harms made exponentially worse by AI’s power to predict, mimic and persuade.It’s obvio
16/02/202346 minutes 25 seconds
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The Race to Cooperation

It’s easy to tell ourselves we’re living in the world we want – one where Darwinian evolution drives competing technology platforms and capitalism pushes nations to maximize GDP regardless of externalities like carbon emissions. It can feel like evolution and competition are all there is.If that’s a complete description of what’s driving the world and our collective destiny, that can feel pretty hopeless. But what if that’s not the whole story of evolution? This is where evolutionary theorist, author, and professor David Sloan Wilson comes in. He has documented where an enlightened game, one of cooperation, rather than competition, is possible. His work shows that humans can and have chosen values like cooperation, altruism and group success – versus individual competition and selfishness – at key moments in our evolution, proving that evolution isn’t just genetic. It’s cultural, and it’s a choice. In a world where our trajectory isn’t tracking in the dir
02/02/202334 minutes 57 seconds
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Ask Us Anything: You Asked, We Answered

Welcome to our first-ever Ask Us Anything episode. Recently we put out a call for questions… and, wow, did you come through! We got more than 100 responses from listeners to this podcast from all over the world. It was really fun going through them all, and really difficult to choose which ones to answer here. But we heard you, and we’ll carry your amazing suggestions and ideas forward with us in 2023.When we created Your Undivided Attention, the goal was to explore the incredible power technology has over our lives, and how we can use it to catalyze a humane future. Three years and a global pandemic later, we’re more committed than ever to helping meet the moment with crucial conversations about humane technology - even as the tech landscape constantly evolves and world events bring more urgency to the need for technology that unites us, invests in democratic values, and enhances our well-being.We’ve learned f
29/12/202242 minutes 51 seconds
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Can Psychedelic Therapy Reset Our Social Media Brains?

When you look at the world, it can feel like we're in a precarious moment. If you’ve listened to past episodes, you know we call this the meta-crisis — an era of overlapping and interconnected crises like climate change, polarization, and the rise of decentralized technologies like synthetic biology. It can feel like we’re on a path to destroy ourselves.That's why we’re talking to Rick Doblin, the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS. They’re a nonprofit focused on educating and researching the benefits of using psychedelic therapy to address PTSD and promote humane ways of relating worldwide.Doblin’s vision is for nothing less than a transformation of society through psychedelic-assisted therapy – not for the drugs themselves, but for their ability to help us react to one another with compassion, appreciate differences, and accept criticism.Given the perma-crisi
15/12/202242 minutes 51 seconds
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Real Social Media Solutions, Now — with Frances Haugen

When it comes to social media risk, there is reason to hope for consensus. Center for Humane Technology co-founder Tristan Harris recently helped launch a new initiative called the Council for Responsible Social Media (CRSM) in Washington, D.C. It’s a coalition between religious leaders, public health experts, national security leaders, and former political representatives from both sides - people who just care about making our democracy work.During this event, Tristan sat down with Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, a friend of Center for Humane Technology, to discuss the harm caused to our mental health and global democracy when platforms lack accountability and transparency. The CRSM is bipartisan, and its kickoff serves to boost the solutions Frances and Tristan identify going into 2023.RECOMMENDED MEDIA Council for Responsible Social Media (CRSM)A p
23/11/202226 minutes 54 seconds
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Spotlight — Humane Technology on '60 Minutes'

The weekly American news show 60 Minutes invited Center for Humane Technology co-founder Tristan Harris back recently to discuss political polarization and the anger and incivility that gets elevated on social media as a matter of corporate profit. We're releasing a special episode of Your Undivided Attention this week to dig further into some of the important nuances of the complexity of this problem.CHT’s work was actually introduced to the world by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes back in 2017, and we’re honored to have been invited back. In this new interview, we cover the business model of competing for engagement at all costs - the real root of the problem that we’re thrilled to be able to discuss on a far-reaching platform.We also busted the myth that if you’re not on social media, you don’t need to be concerned. Even if you're not on social media, you likely live in a country that will vote base
10/11/202212 minutes 5 seconds
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Spotlight — Elon, Twitter and the Gladiator Arena

Since it’s looking more and more like Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, will probably soon have ownership of Twitter, we wanted to do a special episode about what this could mean for Twitter users and our global digital democracy as a whole.Twitter is a very complicated place. It is routinely blocked by governments who fear its power to organize citizen protests around the world. It’s also where outrage, fear and violence get amplified by design, warping users’ views of each other and our common, connected humanity.We’re at a fork in the road, and we know enough about humane design principles to do this better. So we thought we would do a little thought experiment: What if we applied everything we know about humane technology to Twitter, starting tomorrow? What would happen?This is the second part in a two-part conversation about Twitter that we’ve had on Your Undivided Attention abo
27/10/202217 minutes 36 seconds
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They Don’t Represent Us — with Larry Lessig

We often talk about the need to protect American democracy. But perhaps those of us in the United States don't currently live in a democracy.As research shows, there's pretty much no correlation between the percentage of the population that supports a policy and its likelihood of being enacted. The strongest determinant of whether a policy gets enacted is how much money is behind it.So, how might we not just protect, but better yet revive our democracy? How might we revive  the relationship between the will of the people and the actions of our government?This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're doing something special. As we near the election, and representation is on our minds, we're airing a talk by Harvard Law professor and Creative Commons co-founder Larry Lessig. It's a 2019 talk he gave at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC about his book, They Don't Represent Us.The book ti
20/10/202239 minutes 37 seconds
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Stepping Into the Metaverse — with Dr. Courtney Cogburn and Prof. Jeremy Bailenson

The next frontier of the internet is the metaverse. That's why Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of his company from Facebook to Meta, and just sold $10 billion in corporate bonds to raise money for metaverse-related projects.How might we learn from our experience with social media, and anticipate the harms of the metaverse before they arise? What would it look like to design a humane metaverse — that respects our attention, improves our well-being, and strengthens our democracy?This week on Your Undivided Attention, we talk with two pioneers who are thinking critically about the development of the metaverse. Professor Jeremy Bailenson is the Founding director of Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, where he studies how virtual experiences lead to changes in perceptions of self and others. Dr. Courtney Cogburn is an Associate Professor at Columbia's School of Social Work, where she examines associations between racis
06/10/202259 minutes 35 seconds
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Fighting With Mirages of Each Other — with Adam Mastroianni

Have you ever lost a friend to misperception? Have you lost a friend or a family member to the idea that your views got so different, that it was time to end the relationship — perhaps by unfriending each other on Facebook?As it turns out, we often think our ideological differences are far greater than they actually are. Which means: we’re losing relationships and getting mired in polarization based on warped visions of each other. This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're talking with Adam Mastroianni, a postdoctoral research scholar at Columbia Business School who studies how we perceive and misperceive our social worlds. Together with Adam, we're going to explore how accurate — and inaccurate — our views of each other are. As you listen to our conversation, keep in mind that relationship you might have lost to misperception, and that you might be able to revive as a result of what you hear.CORRECTIONS
22/09/202239 minutes 43 seconds
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Spotlight — Addressing the TikTok Threat

Imagine it's the Cold War. Imagine that the Soviet Union puts itself in a position to influence the television programming of the entire Western world — more than a billion viewers. While this might sound like science fiction, it’s representative of the world we're living in, with TikTok being influenced by the Chinese Communist Party.TikTok, the flagship app of the Chinese company Bytedance, recently surpassed Google and Facebook as the most popular site on the internet in 2021, and is expected to reach more than 1.8 billion users by the end of 2022. The Chinese government doesn't control TikTok, but has influence over it. What are the implications of this influence, given that China is the main geopolitical rival of the United States?This week on Your Undivided Attention, we bring you a bonus episode about TikTok. Co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin explore the nature of the TikTok threat, and how we might ad
08/09/202223 minutes 57 seconds
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Spotlight — How might a long-term stock market transform tech?

At Center for Humane Technology, we often talk about multipolar traps — which arise when individuals have an incentive to act in ways that are beneficial to them in the short term, but detrimental to the group in the long term. Think of social media companies that compete for our attention, so that when TikTok introduces an even-more addictive feature, Facebook and Twitter have to mimic it in order to keep up, sending us all on a race to the bottom of our brainstems.Intervening at the level of multipolar traps has extraordinary leverage. One such intervention is the Long Term Stock Exchange — a U.S. national securities exchange serving companies and investors who share a long-term vision. Instead of asking public companies to pollute less or be less addictive while holding them accountable to short-term shareholder value, the Long-Term Stock Exchange creates a new playing field, which incentivizes the creation of long-term stakeholder value.This week on <a href=
25/08/202238 minutes 37 seconds
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The Invisible Cyber-War

When you hear the word cyber-attack, what comes to mind? Someone hacking into your email, or stealing your Facebook password?As it turns out, our most critical infrastructure can be hacked. Our banks, water treatment facilities, and nuclear power plants can be deactivated and even controlled simply by finding bugs in the software used to operate them. Suddenly, cyber-attack takes on a different meaning.This week on Your Undivided Attention, we're talking with cyber-security expert Nicole Perlroth. Nicole spent a decade as the lead cyber-security reporter at The New York Times, and is now a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity Advisory Committee. She recently published “This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends” — an in-depth exploration of the global cyber arms race.CORRECTIONS: In the episode, Nicole says that "the United States could have only afforded 2 to 3 more
04/08/202258 minutes 21 seconds
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An Alternative to Silicon Valley Unicorns

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 cre
30/06/202251 minutes 26 seconds
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Spotlight — Conversations With People Who Hate Me with Dylan Marron

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
16/06/202231 minutes 25 seconds
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How Political Language Is Engineered — with Drew Westen and Frank Luntz

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 po
02/06/202236 minutes 41 seconds
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Transcending the Internet Hate Game — with Dylan Marron

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 oursel
19/05/202245 minutes 54 seconds
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How To Free Our Minds — with Cult Deprogramming Expert Dr. Steven Hassan

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 re
05/05/202251 minutes 28 seconds
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Spotlight — A Bigger Picture on Elon & Twitter

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 <a href="
26/04/202213 minutes 42 seconds
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What Is Civil War in the Digital Age? — with Barbara F. Walter

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 MEDIAHow Civi
21/04/202249 minutes 31 seconds
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Spotlight — What Is Humane Technology?

“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
07/04/202212 minutes 50 seconds
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Digital Democracy is Within Reach with Audrey Tang (Rerun)

[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 be
24/03/202247 minutes 33 seconds
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The Dark Side Of Decentralization — with Audrey Kurth Cronin

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 exp
10/03/202248 minutes 19 seconds
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The Invisible Influence of Language — with Lera Boroditsky

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
24/02/202240 minutes 19 seconds
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How Science Fiction Can Shape Our Reality — with Kim Stanley Robinson

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.</
10/02/202240 minutes 38 seconds
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Here’s Our Plan And We Don’t Know — with Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin and Stephanie Lepp

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 MEDIALeverage Points: Places to Intervene in a SystemSystems theorist Donella Meadows' seminal article, articulating a framework for thinking about how
03/02/202235 minutes 47 seconds
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Is World War III Already Here? — with Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster

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.</
13/01/202235 minutes 22 seconds
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A Fresh Take on Tech in China — with Rui Ma and Duncan Clark

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 intern
10/12/202148 minutes 37 seconds
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Behind the Curtain on The Social Dilemma — with Jeff Orlowski-Yang and Larissa Rhodes

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. 
11/11/202143 minutes 40 seconds
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A Conversation with Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen

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 fun
18/10/202155 minutes 24 seconds
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Spotlight — A Whirlwind Week of Whistleblowing

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.
06/10/20214 minutes 56 seconds
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Making Meaning in Challenging Times — with Jamie Wheal

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 me
30/09/202143 minutes 3 seconds
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Spotlight — The Facebook Files with Tristan Harris, Frank Luntz, and Daniel Schmachtenberger

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.
21/09/20211 hour 5 minutes 12 seconds
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The Power of Solutions Journalism — with Tina Rosenberg and Hélène Biandudi Hofer

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 manage
03/09/202140 minutes 23 seconds
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Do You Want to Become a Vampire? — with L.A. Paul

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
12/08/202136 minutes 35 seconds
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You Will Never Breathe the Same Again — with James Nestor

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?
23/07/202137 minutes 46 seconds
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A Facebook Whistleblower — with Sophie Zhang

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 fa
09/07/202128 minutes 8 seconds
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[Unedited] A Problem Well-Stated is Half-Solved — with Daniel Schmachtenberger

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 <a href="
25/06/20212 hours 2 minutes 49 seconds
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A Problem Well-Stated is Half-Solved — with Daniel Schmachtenberger

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 <a href="ht
25/06/202137 minutes 6 seconds
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Mr. Harris Zooms to Washington

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 prop
10/05/202132 minutes 36 seconds
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Can Your Reality Turn on a Word? — with Anthony Jacquin

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 technol
29/04/202147 minutes 27 seconds
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The Stubborn Optimist's Guide Revisited — with Christiana Figueres (Rerun)

[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
22/04/202159 minutes 56 seconds
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Mind the (Perception) Gap — with Dan Vallone

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 argu
15/04/20211 hour 2 minutes 13 seconds
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Spotlight — Coded Bias

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.
08/04/202123 minutes 56 seconds
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Come Together Right Now — with Shamil Idriss

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. </
01/04/20211 hour 16 minutes 50 seconds
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Disinformation Then and Now — with Camille François

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
18/03/202155 minutes 45 seconds
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The Courage to Connect — with Ciaran O’Connor and John Wood, Jr.

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.
04/03/20211 hour 1 second
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A Renegade Solution to Extractive Economics — with Kate Raworth

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
11/02/20211 hour 26 minutes 15 seconds
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Two Million Years in Two Hours: A Conversation with Yuval Noah Harari

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.
15/01/20211 hour 59 minutes 48 seconds
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Won't You Be My Neighbor? A Civic Vision for the Internet — with Eli Pariser

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
23/12/202048 minutes 25 seconds
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Are the Kids Alright? — with Jonathan Haidt

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 persiste
27/10/202040 minutes 35 seconds
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Your Nation's Attention for the Price of a Used Car — with Zahed Amanullah

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 o
06/10/202043 minutes 17 seconds
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Spotlight: The Social Dilemma

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.
09/09/20204 minutes 26 seconds
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Facebook Goes '2Africa' — with Julie Owono

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.
02/09/202035 minutes 43 seconds
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When Media Was for You and Me — with Fred Turner

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.
06/08/202037 minutes 7 seconds
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Digital Democracy Is Within Reach — with Audrey Tang

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
23/07/202046 minutes 33 seconds
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Spotlight — Beyond the Boycott

#StopHateforProfit is an important first step, but we need to go much further. 
10/07/20209 minutes 20 seconds
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The World According to Q — with Travis View

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 e
08/07/202059 minutes 13 seconds
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The Bully’s Pulpit — with Fadi Quran

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.”
22/06/202055 minutes 53 seconds
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The Dictator's Playbook Revisited — with Maria Ressa (Rerun)

[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 dissid
17/06/202052 minutes 11 seconds
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The Fake News of Your Own Mind — with Jack Kornfield and Trudy Goodman

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.
02/06/202049 minutes 22 seconds
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The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to Saving the Planet — with Christiana Figueres

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.
21/05/202052 minutes 54 seconds
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The Spin Doctors Are In — with Renée DiResta

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.
07/05/202052 minutes 57 seconds
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When Attention Went on Sale — with Tim Wu

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 beha
28/04/202045 minutes 22 seconds
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Changing Our Climate of Denial — with Anthony Leiserowitz

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. 
22/04/20201 hour 6 minutes 31 seconds
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Stranger than Fiction — with Claire Wardle

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. 
31/03/20201 hour 2 minutes 44 seconds
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Mr. Harris Goes to Washington

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. 
30/01/202042 minutes 10 seconds
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Trust Falls — with Rachel Botsman

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 efficien
14/01/202051 minutes 22 seconds
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The Cure for Hate — with Tony McAleer

“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.
19/12/201941 minutes 17 seconds
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Rock the Voter — with Brittany Kaiser

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.
05/12/201952 minutes 20 seconds
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The Dictator's Playbook — with Maria Ressa

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 t
05/11/201950 minutes 44 seconds
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The Opposite of Addiction — with Johann Hari

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.
22/10/201948 minutes 58 seconds
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Pardon the Interruptions — with Gloria Mark

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. 
14/08/201943 minutes 54 seconds
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From Russia with Likes (Part 2) — with Renée DiResta

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,
01/08/201928 minutes 53 seconds
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From Russia with Likes (Part 1) — with Renée DiResta

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
24/07/201945 minutes 47 seconds
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Down the Rabbit Hole by Design — with Guillaume Chaslot

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,, 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.
10/07/201954 minutes 29 seconds
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With Great Power Comes... No Responsibility? — with Yaёl Eisenstat

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. 
25/06/201955 minutes 41 seconds
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Should've Stayed in Vegas — with Natasha Dow Schüll

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.
19/06/201939 minutes 11 seconds
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What Happened in Vegas — with Natasha Dow Schüll

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. 
10/06/201940 minutes 51 seconds
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Launching June 10: Your Undivided Attention

Technology has shredded our attention. We can do better.
16/04/20193 minutes 16 seconds