Tristan Harris is heading a new group called The Center for Humane TechnologyFormer Google executive is concerned over the negative impacts of technologyTruth About Tech campaign to raise awareness over addiction and mental healthPower to influence relationships and our political beliefs...
- Tristan Harris is heading a new group called The Center for Humane Technology
- Former Google executive is concerned over the negative impacts of technology
- Truth About Tech campaign to raise awareness over addiction and mental health
- Power to influence relationships and our political beliefs will also be addressed
Technology experts worried about the dangers posed by social networks and smartphones are taking on the companies they helped to establish.
Among their concerns are addiction to technology and its impact on individuals, particularly children and younger users, as well as society as a whole.
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Tristan Harris (pictured), a former in-house ethicist at Google is spearheading a new group, called The Center for Humane Technology, campaigning to raise awareness of the negative effects of smartphones and social media
Tristan Harris, a former in-house ethicist at Google is spearheading the new group, called the Center for Humane Technology.
The newly-launched initiative, which is working with the nonprofit media watchdog group Common Sense Media, is planning to lobby the United States government over tech addiction.
It is also undertaking an advertising campaign aimed at 55,000 public schools in the US, to raise awareness with parents, students and teachers over its concerns.
These include the mental health effects of overuse of social media, including depression, stress, anxiety, self-image and self-worth, according to the group’s website.
The campaign, called The Truth About Tech, also seeks to address more wide-ranging problems caused by technology, including its power to influence our relationships and even our political beliefs.
Speaking to the New York Times Mr Harris, said: ‘We were on the inside. We know what the companies measure. We know how they talk, and we know how the engineering works.
‘The largest supercomputers in the world are inside of two companies — Google and Facebook — and where are we pointing them?
The campaign, called The Truth About Tech, also seeks to address more wide-ranging problems caused by technology, including its power to influence our relationships and even our political beliefs (stock image)
‘We’re pointing them at people’s brains, at children.’
This is not the first time that a high profile figure from a technology company has expressed concerns over its products.
In December, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya spoke out against the social network he helped to create, saying it is ‘ripping society apart’.
Mr Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels ‘tremendous guilt’ for the influence Facebook has had and its ability to manipulate users.
ARE YOU ONE OF THE NEARLY 50% OF SMARTPHONE USERS ADDICTED TO THEIR HANDSET?
Worrying research published in December 2017 revealed we reach for our smartphones around 4,000 times a year for no apparent reason.
Each day we unlock our phone 28 times – and over a third of the time this is compulsive and unnecessary.
Experts from Malta-based online casino Casumo.com looked at 2,000 UK smartphone users in order to find out whether checking their device was out of habit or necessity.
They found more than 40 per cent of the 10,000 times users check smartphones each year is ‘compulsive’.
The top ten per cent of users check their phones more than 60 times a day.
More than one in three people think they are addicted to checking their phone with the average user spending nearly an hour each day on their phone.
The survey also found Google Maps is considered the most useful app while WhatsApp and Gmail come second and third.
Google Chrome is fourth and Facebook comes in fifth.
He also suggested users take a break from using social media altogether.
Facebook itself has admitted that the social network may pose a threat to democracy, through the spread of fake news.
In a series of blog posts in January 2018, Facebook execs said the site was ‘far too slow’ in identifying negative influences that rose with the 2016 US election, citing Russian interference, ‘toxic discourse,’ and the ‘dangerous consequences’ of misinformation.
The firm is set to roll out major changes to the News Feed, with plans to prioritise content from friends and family, and make posts from business, brands, and media less prominent – and, ensure the ‘news people see, while less overall, is high quality.’
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