Tristan Harris, President of the Center for Humane Technology

Published on12 NOV 2020

In this episode of Talks at GS, Tristan Harris discusses his journey from working in tech to studying the impacts of social media on society, as portrayed in the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, and his work to realign technology with humanity. 

On the impact of social media on mental health: “I think the real message of the film is so long as we, the users, are not the customer, but we are the product, we're worth more when we can be turned into predictable automatons... My concern is that we're taking humanity and there's the wild, alive, fulfilled, free and informed humans that we can at least aspire to some notion of who we could be at our best as humans, but we're actually worth more when we're addicted, distracted, polarized, narcissistic, attention-seeking, and disinformed than if we're this alive free, informed human being… That's really what we have to change at the end of the day.”

On realigning technology with humanity: “I think the degree to which we're willing to make radical change is the degree to which we understand how much is at stake. Because, for example, I think it's important for everyone no matter what you care about – you can care about human trafficking, you can care about climate change. you can care about racial inequality. You can care about any of these existential topics that we have to deal with. Our ability to work on that problem, take climate change, which I'm very passionate about, depends on us and our ability to see the same reality and understand the timelines that we have, because if everyone understood the same things, we can coordinate on how we want to fix it.”


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