I should mention who Tristan Harris is. Wikipedia did a very nice job of writing a short bio of him:
B.J. Fogg gave me a tour of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford shortly after he wrote his epic, game-changing book Persuasive Technology for his class. Tristan is one of the many grads of that class and others in it went on to create products like Instagram.
It isn't that any of them are evil; they are among the nicest people you could meet who really do want to make the world a better place. But as Tristan came to realize, no one saw the consequences of small user interface design elements at scale, in places like India.
For example: people want to be notified of interesting posts or replies, or when they are mentioned or tagged in a photo. Since all social media companies were founded by young programmers in the Silicon Valley, they engineered notifications into their products to improve them. All good intentions.
What happened next is the companies made more money when notifications got more compelling and frequent. But what to notify you about? News outlets like CNN ping you when a tanker capsizes to interrupt whatever you're doing and get you to read CNN. Politicians text you to say there is a big rally tonight. And just like for them, it's built into Twitter and Facebook's business model to think of notifications that might interest you. So Silicon Valley techies armed with AI out of the reach of almost all other companies, are deciding how to direct the world's attention.
I think what Tristan is pointing out is these design choices have consequences, good and bad, for humanity and we better understand them. @paulduplantis . 👈 Ironic thing I just did there.
I especially feel responsible for understanding them because what if we add at the bottom of each conversation, people who liked this conversation also liked... Then we have a recommendation engine like YouTube. What should guide our recommendations?