If you could have one tool or resource in hand to address the concerns we're exploring, what would it be?

I consider myself both an idealist and a pragmatist, and so I’ve been wondering how others on the forum would answer this question:

“If you could wave a magic wand and have one new resource or tool available to use tomorrow to advance the cause of making technology more humane, what would it be?”

The tool or resource could be a book, video, article, app, campaign - it could be anything. The more specific the better.

I would love to know what others are wishing for - in the real world - to advance this work?

A new operative system for smartphones that cooperates with users for their long term happiness. It blocks specific apps after a certain amount of time or denies the access to them when it understands from all its information about the user that those specific apps would be detrimental for the user in that particular moment or period of time.


Thanks - that’s a great description of a specific tool and how and why it would matter. I appreciate you sharing it.


Maybe something like this? https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=cz.mobilesoft.appblock&hl=en

Not a new OS, but an Android app you can use to block other apps (or even itself to lock yourself out of changing the settings) for a time.

Or what iterations on that idea would you like to see?

For me, when I think humane tech I think tech that serves the user. And what better way to do that than teach users to make their own tech? In light of that, my choice of resource would be a computer science wiki from which individuals can learn both the theory of how computers work in the abstract (Turing machines, Von Neumann vs Harvard, and so on) and the details of specific implementations, and how to develop applications on top of them. Much like what https://wiki.osdev.org/Expanded_Main_Page does for OS development, but broader in scope.


For me the tool also already exists. It is uBlock Origin, the blocker software for most browsers that is the absolute best. It is also a proof of the power of open-source software. The browser extension, which is one of the most widely used blockers, is entirely developed without any donations.

Besides protecting your own privacy, using this software will significantly speed up your internet browsing. Without all the ad-ware the pages are much lighter-weight, saving both CPU time and memory, which also results in more environmently-friendly internet browsing.


I really appreciate these posts and this conversation and would welcome others chiming in. I learn from every post that’s added here.

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Working backwards: What strategy has led to greatest gains in human happiness and freedom these past 125 years from ending child labor, getting women the right to vote, enabling labor to organize strong unions and other major achievements of the New Deal, creating Social security and Medicare, the Civil Rights movement, and ending the Vietnam war, etc. Answer: Nonviolent civil resistance. This strategy (read Erica Chenoweth’s game changing research) has also been the most effective in both overthrowing fascist regimes and when there were such fascist coups, quickly overthrowing them. So the next question therefore is:
How could technology make it easier for nonviolent civil resistance-based campaigns to succeed–to recruit the massive numbers necessary.
Answer: A tool that could scale moral courage, which, btw, is the most important of all virtues, the virtue without which no other is possible. So in behavioral terms how can we use tech to identify and apply on an individual basis the most effective behavioral levers to minimize the blockers to courageous action and maximize the motivators. Other than the tech that produces vaccines, is there any higher better use than this for technology?

Remove browsing from smartphones. Make phones phone again! :sweat_smile:

I would love to see tools/resources tested by aging people on whether they are necessary, intuitive, and truly humane. We are talking about attention and time, and older folk are our most vulnerable population where those two qualities are concerned, and the one most likely to cut through the well-meaning, but ultimately one-note echo chamber of techies talking to techies. If you want to really test what you’re doing, see if your grandmother can use your app without your help and whether she shows it to her friends for fun. Chances are it will be doing something meaningful at a truly non-ADD pace towards connection and delight.
This is such a wonderful question. Thank you.

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