A different approach: Debug Brains, leave the Matrix



I understand the CHT approach is this:

  • Making users / companies aware how bad some tech is
  • Advising users to give up certain habits or deinstall apps etc.

Well, here is an alternative approach:

  • Teach people the ability to look inside their own and other’s minds (this skill is called empathy)
  • Give them guidance about the mecanisms of systematic irrationality (called cognitive biases)
    as these are in essence the root of all problems of mankind ever.

The key is not letting emotions dominate reason.

Once somebody has started this process, ALL the rest follows, from stopping being evil oneself
to imunity to evil tech and materialism.
The result feels a little bit like leaving the matrix. Who

I think its better to teach folks WHY they are doing wrong than just WHAT they are doing wrong.

I myself am practically totally imune to digital dope. So I dont need to uninstall or go greyscale etc.

In fact, handling MY PHONE reasonably is neglectable compared to handling MY LIFE reasonably!

It’s not that I think CHT has the wrong approach.
But any movement, organization or investor dedicated to humatity NEEDS to understand
the human mind - this is not rocket science - but it is also not trival!

There are things about debugging brains out there.
The movement could best be called rationalism, if it really was a movement.
The problem is that there is no UNDERSTANDING RATIONALITY quickstart guid online so far.
I am working on that.

Until then check here:

The best introduction i found so far is in German:

But on the organizational level of CHT, you should simply give CFAR or EA a call.
All these orgs are around your corner.


That is only part of our approach and it includes the second part that you mention. We collect, improve, create solutions to alleviated, avoid the harms of technology, whatever these solutions may entail (better tech, empathy, real-life alternatives, etc.), and the spectrum of harms. Our education includes both the WHY and the WHAT, and whatever works best. In short, we’ll take a rational and practical approach.

Thanks for the pointers! I know LessWrong, it is great. Heard rationality.org is similar. Will have a look at that.


We can’t really debug brains. After all they are what they are, chemical, emotional by nature. Yes more logic is useful but even under logic there aren’t universally accepted answers to everything. There is no such thing as immunity to tech, only resistance, because we all need to use tech and simply ignoring it doesn’t make it work the way it should, doesn’t make it work for us. The problem isn’t with users, it’s with tech developers and business people, and with the education system that creates techies and business people.

I agree with you that the Center for Humane Technology has taken a weak approach. I think Tristan has been concentrating on just one area as the “problem”, the attention-based economy and “design”, and has done this very well.

However the problem is so much bigger, and these are just symptoms of the real issue which is that tech is so important to our human society, to our nations, that it can not be controlled by shallow for-profit interests which do not put the needs of society before their own greed. Also tech is unique and not like other industries, and so we should not treat it like another CocaCola. Because I can very easily choose never to drink CocaCola. But I can not choose not to use tech, because otherwise I can not even communicate, hail a car, see the news, have a job, buy certain things, pay bills, bank, and so on.


As Arnold said and the following may help bring some clarity too… We have specific campaigns (operations or series of operations energetically pursued to accomplish a purpose) on Github. We have many things in the works now and we’re all volunteer based- so rove around the forum there are many gems here. We really are grassroots- one foot in front of the other collaborations… Jump in- your in the right place…


Sorry, me and others know better.
Even this statement is an indicator for the unflexibility of brains.

A modern movement must have such insights, trust me.
I am here to assist you in these matters.
Get it from me or get it from your fellow rationality activists.


Great is probably not the best term.
I guess you would be prefer CHT to be called IMPORTANT or SO RIGHT over “great” or “cool”.

It simply doesn’t really sound like you understood it.
Which is actually not a shame as the LW content is rather academic and hard to digest.
And the LW comunity appearsg to be a bunch of nerds, taking rationalism as the ultimate source
for celebrating their intelligence, just like they previously would have done by hacking major computersystems…


Don’t take things too literally and serious, please. There is a lot of intelligent philosophical talk over there, which can be refreshing and thought-provoking. And yes, they are much better at making rational arguments than I am. I am also not suggesting it as somehow directly related to CHT. It is a personal source of information that I visit now and then.


I said, “we can’t really debug brains” to try to stimulate discussion and to see how you would respond. I also meant this little community doesn’t have the power to “really” (meaning thoroughly) change the way people in the world think. We do however work to improve our own thinking here, as well as our readers, and hopefully some of the tech community.

I am hopeful that you will share ideas from “rationalism” and “empathy”, though keep in mind that we have already had many similar discussions in the forum in the past, on empathy, on listening, on compassion, on philosophy, on ethics, on neuroscience, on evolution, on history and so on. Though we as people spend all our lives learning and changing, and so we all already know what it means to be rational to some extent, we could use more tips on thinking rationally. Or maybe on thinking empirically who knows because sometimes we see things which seem irrational but must be true as we’ve witnessed them, lol. Any one field doesn’t dominate our way of thinking, rather we combine all of the above and are open to many viewpoints.

I have stated before, the most powerful tool humans have is to spread knowledge, so the more quality wisdom the better.

According to recent neuroscience people actually make decisions by emotion, but then try to post-rationalise and make up some fake logic in their minds automatically to try to “explain” decisions which they actually made with their emotion/instincts. Some people try to then appear that they are logical, sometimes this is for cultural reasons especially in countries/subcultures which focus on order and precision. In these cases people are actually not rational, but give the appearance of being rational which makes it ever more harmful.

Here we focus on humane technology and not all the issues of humanity.


Just quickly:
The most powerfool tool is triggering emotions.