Humane Technology reading lists


The summary: no it’s not a farce. Tech companies operate with an emphasis on profit above all else. Therefore real ethical tech only exists in nonprofits.

“Rather than building products that satisfy animalistic behavior, from screen addiction to fear mongering, tech nonprofits are building technology to fill gaps in basic human needs — education, human rights, healthcare.”

I like the use of the word “animalistic” because it puts us in our place among other animals. Almost all animals, including humans, fight for survival against others, that represents tech capitalism and harmful or selfish activities in the self-interest of a person or groups of people such as countries. But animals such as humans also need to cooperate to survive, this is represented by nonprofits, communities and other benign organisations.

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I always say that most of the challenges we’re facing today require deep thoughts, and the only way to get to that level is by reading. Podcasts, videos and articles are fine, but they don’t give you the depth of a book.

So since Christmas is almost here, I thought it would be interesting to give you a few books to get started (and I hope you recommend some books back!) By the way, I’m not going to recommend the latest books, but the books I think are timely for the situation we’re living.

  1. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. My favorite book of 2018. This is a must read.

  2. The filter bubble by Eli Pariser. Indispensable to understand the digital world we live in.

  3. Adcreep by Mark Bartholomew. If you want to get a wide picture of where advertising comes from and where it’s going, this is a great book.

  4. Free Will by Sam Harris. Short book but I think it’s fundamental to start acknowledging that we might not be the authors of our own thoughts.

  5. Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday. Intriguing and entertaining book on how Peter Thiel took over Gawker media. I think this book is great to have a better picture of what goes on behind the scenes and understand power structures and communications processes.

I hope you enjoy these book references :slight_smile:

PS I made a video talking (briefly) about these books, which you may find useful too.



RAND corporation’s project on Thruth Decay:



Nate Hagens Reality 101 lecture. A synthesis of Energy, Economy, Ecology, Psychology

Forward thinking people might find the Nate Hagens lecture enlightening. He helps us understand Energy, Economy, Ecology, and Psychology and how they all fit together in the modern world. Of particular interest to this site is the neuro-chemistry that is hijacked to keep us clicking.




An Overview of Artificial Intelligence Ethics and Regulations

This LinkedIn article by Prof. Christian Guttmann, UNSW provides a number of good resources related to AI Ethics, classified as (taken from the article):

What is AI ethics, AI regulation, AI sustainability?

For sake of simplicity, I have used the umbrella term “AI ethics and regulation”, and under this umbrella you find many topics. Below are 7 key notions associated to AI ethics, regulation and sustainability.

Algorithmic Bias and Fairness. When an AI makes decisions and takes actions that reflect the implicit values of the humans who are involved in coding, collecting, selecting, or using data to train the algorithm.

AI Safety. An example here are adversarial attacks. For example, Neural networks can be fooled. How can we manage such vulnerabilities in AI?

AI Security. Hacking a self-driving cars or a fleet of delivery drones poses a serious risk. Whole electricity nets and transport systems benefit from autonomous decision making and optimisation, they need to be secured at the same time. How can we secure AI systems?

AI Accountability. Who is accountable when an entire process is automated. For example, for self driving cars, when accidents occur, who can be accounted for? Is it the manufacturer of the car, the government, the driver of the car, or the car itself?

AI Quality Standardisation. Can we ensure that AI behaves in the same way for all AI services and products?

AI Explainability. Can or should an AI be able to explain the exact reasons of its actions and decisions?

AI Transparancy. Do we understand why an AI has taken certain actions and decisions? Should there be a requirement for automated decisions to be publicly available?

There are other related topics such as responsible AI, sustainable AI, and AI product liabilities.

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Visiting Prof. Nicholas Carr at Williams College has a great review of the book “Age of Surveillance Capitalism” by Shoshana Zuboff:

Surveillance Capitalism is described as (emphasis mine):

“Pioneered by Google, perfected by Facebook, and now spreading throughout the economy, surveillance capitalism uses human life as its raw material.”

Read the article, it is great:

There is also a good Hacker News thread about the article with interesting comments:

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School Does Not Allow Alternate Web Browsers on our Chromebooks
Google and Facebook have become “antithetical to democracy,” says The Age of Surveillance Capitalism author Shoshana Zuboff

Thank you, borja. Enjoyed your video, and I have shared the link on MeWe. You should also read World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer. Another brilliant book.

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Thank you! I’ll read that book soon.

Thanks @aschrijver for that recommendation. I’m definitely going to check that out.

Recently I read a terrific book called Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neill. It’s about the dark side of algorithms and the inequalities they generate on society. Great read.


A Bigger, Greedier Dog: Greed may be a solution to move towards Humane Technology

“your data — the abstract portrait of who you are, and, more importantly, of who you are compared to other people — is your real vulnerability”

“Infinite scroll at the very minimum wastes 200,000 human lifetimes per day.” — Aza Raskin (co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology and inventor of the infinite scroll)

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Books on Attention Snatchers & Focus


I first came to know about continous partial attention from the book Find Your Focus Zone: An Effective New Plan to Defeat Distraction and Overload by Lucy Jo Palladino. I hope this book and her other book Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers: A Step-by-Step Guide to Balancing Your Child’s Use of Technology along with Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport will be of interest to this community and one or more of them could make it to the reading list. It will also be good if the reading list is categorized into relevant categories as new book suggestions come along.

Thanks :slight_smile:




Though not specifically about technology, the book No Logo by Naomi Klein delves into marketing and media influence in a way that is applicable today, as well as helps you understand why data mining is so lucrative for marketing firms.



Here is an article I would like to share in this forum. Do check it out:

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Wanted: bookworms for Humane Tech Book Club

I posted the link on our MeWe page. If you want to say more about the article, feel free to join and do so, @shiv.

For everyone else, here is an excerpt:

Since most users are always found seated, head bent, over long periods of time, they fail to exercise, not even being able to do the recommended level of activity per day. It was found that kids turned to technology to manage boredom, to feel good and to get away from family conflicts. There are instances where the children have been online for 19 hours at a stretch! But just the time spent online is not so alarming. There is a reason to worry if excessive use is accompanied by loss of control, neglect of other activities, aggressive and violent behaviour on being denied access to gadgets, and an inability to stop despite the physical harm. This addiction impacts all aspects of a youngster’s life including physical, mental, emotional, academic and social. Japan, South Korea, Italy, China, and Australia have officially recognised technology addiction as a disorder.

Children are indeed exposed to new ideas and opportunities, covering many subjects and enjoy access to extensive information online. But their uncontrolled and unsupervised overuse of digital gadgets and social media is resulting in sleep deprivation, poor concentration, memory loss, obesity, bone and joint problems, hearing loss, impaired eyesight, depression, self-injury, suicidal ideation, exposure to unsafe online content at an impressionable age, cyberbullying, online harassment, and compromised privacy and confidentiality.



Thank you, @patm!

Tech’s impact on kids is really concerning and the current education system needs an urgent overhaul. I would like to add that parents, parents-to-be and teachers have a huge role to play in guiding the digital natives to use this technology responsibly. The digital immigrants who belong to both the pre-digital (who knew life before the Internet) and the digital era must lead way. We must gather all stakeholders (Government, Lawmakers, Industry, Academia, Health Professionals, General Public, Parents), as “it takes a village to raise a child.”

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Two great books have come out in the last few weeks: Roger McNamee, an early mentor of Marc Zuckerberg and investor in FB wrote Zucked - Waking up to the Catastrophe of Facebook and Shoshona Zuboff wrote Surveillance Capitalism - important as they focus on the topic at hand! And here are two interviews that I enjoyed on This Week in Tech where Host Jason Calacanis has 2 hours with the aforementioned Roger McNamee:
Interview Part #1
Interview Part #2


Join the debate: Is Facebook's business model doomed?

Non-Fiction: Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking Our Kids by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. He is an addiction therapist, among other things, and has lots of great information on his website

Fiction: Feed by MT Anderson (written in 2002!) Explores how teens would be affected if their Feeds were implanted from a young age.



Facebook and Google Aren’t the Only Ones Tracking Your Clicks



Yeah, it’s getting very hard to secure a browser (o device) these days even for technical users.

And chrome might remove or weaken the functionalities (webrequest API) used by UBlockOrigin to defend our browsers. I really hope Firefox won’t weaken it too because they try to match chrome with respect to extensions



@aschrijver have you read this article about privacy? Have you heard about the Dutch tech privacy consult big firm called Cookiebot? Humane tech employment for you?

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