Reflections on new Mission and Vision: Pyramids of Humane Technology


#22

Sure thank you for your concern, we mostly generally feel the same way regarding other issues. However the focus here is just on tech. All of the issues (AI, inequality, mental health, “post-work”) you mentioned have already been discussed here, in relation to tech.

If we do have to hit the streets, then how would that work, “tech is greedy” or something like that? Surround Zuckerberg’s home? Tiananmen Square? (This page has now been blocked by the Chinese firewall.)

What’s the way to build an inclusive future together?


#23

Hi @aschrijver et al.

I’m based on London, and I recently set up an online community and social enterprise which, in its own little way, is trying to be part of the solution by following a business model which is based entirely on partnerships and sponsorship, while keeping the content entirely free - ie no algorithms, no covert marketing, no data harvesting. We just want to make it as easy as possible for people all over the world to share what it’s really like to walk in their shoes with other people across the globe.

I’m really interested in the whole “humane tech” agenda, which I think is a huge rising wave. I don’t think we need to make it too complicated, though. What we do need, though, which is true for anyone who wants to get people behind a shared agenda, is a shared starting point. ….What basic principles can we all agree on, that must guide everything we do? In other words, what constitutes the “ethical code” that we feel must underpin all our efforts at transformation? I start to explore this issue in my most recent blog article: c4urselves.com - Facebook, Cambridge Analytica… and Hippocrates

You’ll notice I mention the Centre for Humane Technology, among other things!

What do you think? Do we need to first of all come up with a very simple but powerful ethical code - a digital version of the Hippocratic Oath?

Thoughts are extremely welcome. …Do also have a look at the rest of the website: comments and feedback on this are also very welcome (we’re also on social media, as you’d expect).

All the best,
Federico


#24

Well said! I agree that we should make our agenda simpler. I also agree that our basic principles should be simpler. Simpler would be more memorable.

I think we should create specific guidelines for all builders of tech on how to be more humane. I think they could be layered/presented as:

  1. First the humane tech mission and vision
  2. Secondly setting specific goals to be achieved in creating the humane technology
  3. Thirdly selecting organisation structures to create the humane technology, such as the triple bottom line, sustainable businesses, benefit corporations, nonprofits and collectives
  4. Fourthly, specific technical and design guidelines for building the humane technology: privacy rules to follow, non-addictive content, the dangers of using third party services, open source, protection of users from tracking and dangerous ads, humane interface design, and so on

#25

Woohoo!! I love this, especially the Mission: We Promote Solutions that Improve Wellbeing, Freedom and Society

My friend and I built a technology (a “solution”) that does exactly that (improve wellbeing, freedom and society)! Our technology helps people to become better, deeper readers. We’re building a global community of readers. (Thousands of readers and almost a quarter million articles so far!) Existing social media platforms and publications exist to commercialize your attention. We do the opposite: We try to get people reading deeply, focused, without distractions. And we try to help people read better, smarter, longer stuff. Once you start deep reading the web, you’ll never go back!

Check us out: reallyread.it

I guess my question is: What’s next here for entrepreneurs like me? My team and I would love to throw ourselves into this thing (and this is quite perfect timing actually because we really need help with promotion right now) so I can’t wait to get started. Where to begin!? Let’s do this!


#26

Also, I have a pretty unusual life and lifestyle. I used to live in a sailboat and I’m moving into a truck that I’m going to drive all across the USA. I don’t use social media and I don’t have a smartphone. I’m always reading and writing and I’d love to network with others who share these passions.

Without getting too sappy here:

The world needs us. We are small, so we need to be mighty. These are bigger problems than most people realize, and they have an amplifying effect on so many other big problems: democracy, mental health and drug addiction, journalism and news, climate change, etc. (I hear you @emojedi!)

Finally, just spit-balling here: Is it time for a big social media boycott? If we are all leaders in our respective communities, let’s start throwing our weight and influence around!!


#27

Yes and yes. Simple is always better.

@C4Urselves: To me, the ethical code is:

  • People over profits.
  • People should control tech, tech shouldn’t control people.

@Free: How would a set of “guidelines for all builders” actually work? I face design and ethical challenges literally every single day. The industry is so new. Everyone, even the big guys like FB, Google etc are venturing into new territory every day.

I’d be very interested in a set of guidelines, but I’m also a bit skeptical because if such a rulebook could exist, I think it already would.

A ranking system is another interesting idea. Come up with a set of rules/norms/specs that a company must follow in order to be considered “humane” and get certified so. I want my company to get the seal of approval! And I want to work with other companies that also get the seal!


#28

Beautiful website Federico!

Agreed. We are in the process of that reorganisation. There will be some storytelling surrounding the Pyramids of Humane Technology, which we are currently elaborating on. Humane Technology is a vast area, and the concept easily leads to confusion (as we have found out). We are creating a comprehensive framework to break this down into manageable parts.

The fundamentals will be as simple as you describe, but the framework allows us to hang many member- and partner-initiated community projects and initiatives to it, while keeping the overview. See also the comment by @Free. We currently have our mission and vision as the basis:

Mission: Promoting Solutions that Improve Wellbeing, Freedom and Societiy
Vision: Ubiquitous Humane Technology that Allows Humans to Flourish and Humanity to Thrive

Coming weeks and months we will gradually extend this further. Regarding Hypocratic Oaths I’d like to refer to our Awesome Humane Tech list where we are tracking some existing work in this regard. We have a great need to more accurately define what Humane Technology means in various contexts, and that will be important focus as we go further.

PS. Some tips for your site: Add Open Graph metadata, and maybe consider decentralized video software PeerTube.


#29

I am of the opinion that this actually exists in a way, but not as an easy-to-find resource anywhere on the web. Instead everything is dispersed all around the internet. On the forum (which we see as an archive of information + ideas waiting to be processed) many things have been discussed. When CHT came with the Ledger of Harms, I proposed a solution-oriented version of that as a crowdsourced project. It is called Harms of Technology Fixes, or HOTFIX - a design pattern library.

HTC can collect these guidelines and the external pointers to more information. More info here:

Regarding Ranking system there is: Idea - Humane Technology Logo Program and other topics on the forum.


#30

Is it time for a big social media boycott?

I guess it is too early.
It must be well organised and planned and marketed…


#31

I assume you know that CHT has a Facebook group, Friends of Time Well Spent, which has over six thousand members. And that HTC has social-media accounts, including Twitter and MeWe.

Why do these accounts exist? I think the reasoning was that we would go to people where they gather and invite them to join the community.

What kinds of things get posted on the FB page? Here is a screenshot of a recent post by someone in a group of students and young people trying to create an exhibit on smartphones. The project looks worthy, and the crowdfunding page shows the group is trying to raise a modest amount to cover costs.

And here is a video the group made.

People who aren’t on FB often confuse the company with its constituents. There is Mark Z.'s company–let’s call it FB One–and the many communities that make it up: FB Two, Three, Four… Should we close Friends of Time Well Spent and take away people’s opportunity to share news, announcements, and opportunities with each other? HTC considered this question many months ago and decided against it.


#32

Oh, wow. I see your point.

I’m up against a similar issue. At reallyread.it, we’re building features that integrate directly with Twitter. I remind myself that win, lose or draw, the net result of our product is fewer clicks and more deep reading. I have accepted that it’s inevitable that we have to dance with the devil in order to achieve our mission. (Somewhat related, we’re in the process of entirely rebranding from reallyread.it to Readup, and it’s forcing some great conversations about who we are and what we want to become. We debated the name “JustRead” too, but the domain was impossible to get. :laughing:)

That video is incredible! You’re right that I’m missing out on good content because I’m not on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or reddit. I just created a Facebook account (under a pseudoynm, obviously) to stay tuned in to Friends of Time Well Spent! (I’m pretty strict about avoiding ad-supported communities, but I’m eager to see how this little experiment goes.)

Somewhat related, here’s a long story that I’ll try to make short: I went to Roger McNamee’s book launch (for Zucked) in New York City. Two things kinda bummed me out: (1) He brazenly defended his very active presence on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) because he believed that that was where the target audience for his book was hanging out. Of course that’s true, but it doesn’t make it right to be over there. Any use of Facebook is support for Facebook. Right? A bit worse, though, was (2): He’s really unapologetic about the role he played, all along the way, with respect to both Facebook and the culture of Silicon Valley. He seemed to be legit bragging, in great detail, about his role every step of the way. He does that in the book too. I think I walked away so crestfallen because my expectations were initially so high. (I listened to a bunch of moon alice in the weeks leading up to the event!) Can you be an activist against a company that you’re also a major shareholder of? (An analogy: Is it morally right to protest climate change AND own stock in oil companies?) To me that’s just ethically bonkers. Over the course of several questions that McNamee was asked (which were ultimately about ramping up action against the evil overlords!) McNamee’s message was: chill out, there’s nothing you can do about it, the government has it covered. He literally said, “Everyone just needs to wait a few years, it’ll all get taken care of,” and then making an around-the-horn movement with his finger, he referred to all of the Bay Area representatives to Washington DC, geographically: Nancy Pelosi, Ro Khanna, Anna Eshoo, yadda yadda yadda, and I was aghast. The message was that he knew these people personally and they assured him that Facebook would be adequately regulated. What?! No way! That’s crazy! We’re barrelling toward dystopia and we need collective action to take the wind out of Facebook’s sails. (So Boycott! Divest! [Right?])

I discussed this with Cal Newport too. We can’t put all our faith in government regulation. If we do, we’re toast. Consumers must hold companies accountable. We vote with our dollars and our attention.


#33

PS: I just noticed that there have already been some long (and thoughtful and thorough!) conversations and debates about the ethical/moral problems of using social media services like Facebook and Twitter, while we’re also actively working to subvert these organizations. It’s thorny stuff. Stimulating, yet exhausting. Meaningful yet time-wasting. On this topic, my opinions are constantly evolving. I think it’s good for us to use this space to explore big, ideas out in the open. Sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes I’m messy. So I apologize if I’m putting the wrong comments in the wrong spots. I’m trying to stick to the overall structure here, but I guess I have a tendency to go off on tangents. I trust @aschrijver to help keep me in line. :slight_smile:

It’s time for breakfast. :fried_egg:


#34

I am also persuaded that government regulation can not be a single redemptive solution for this big issue. Effectiveness of legislation is questionable and of course can not solve every single aspect of digital world. Even as I am sure that those big tech companies have zero chance to become humane and act in best interest of humanity we have to gather enough people on our side first. You can not do effective consumer pressure without sufficient amount of consumers…
I never been on any social network (oh, it is not true anymore…this forum is also kind of social network…), but I am glad that our thoughts are spread over the channels where all unaware people are active. In fact maybe it is more important to do it there or on any other public and well known medium then here. People who are active here most probably understands core of the issue and are willing to do something for improving situation. You have to cultivate soil and spread seeds before harvest. And I believe it is very well reflected in our pyramids.


#35

Thank you for your kindness, Bill. You are wonderful and we value your membership dearly. But…

Lesson learned: I am just a small guy, making all of this up, as I type using my creativity and imaginatiion - my fantasy developed by reading many (science) fiction books but mostly that which already exists: Ancient wisdom lying all around, and that up to now we were casually trampling upon, and destroying our world.

Lesson learned: The fun actually at this stage in our community evolution is that I have introduced to all of you an engagement strategy that can be tremendously powerfull if we all work on improving it together, by learning, then mentoring, then teaching, then advocating, while documenting, analising, structuring, pruning and improving - and we have come fullcircle again. This is the ultimate Proof of Concept to see how good Continuous Improvement applied to Maximizing Synergy, Optimizing Strategy, Storytelling, Engagement Models and introducing Lost Human Values really works.

And whether or not we are successful in that… well, we see what happens, but that comes later. We must be practical and KISS, love each other and live in the moment and therefore also Continuously Improving Mindfulness concepts to not get impatient when things do not work at the first time. Failure is Wisdom and hence we must fail to learn.

We study a method called The Philosophy of Smallness and tech-wise this boils down to Aral Balkan’s vision of Small Tech rather than Big Tech, because small is Huge.

Lesson learned:If you all contribute your grain of sand, we’ll create the mountain on which the Pyramids can stand!

Now you all, let’s go to bootstrap the Project, develop the Build, iterate and do Continuous Integration (CI). Be agile and flexible in this. But of course you know this, as many of you are already techies like me :blush:

Lesson learned: It is action time you delightful Builders and I love :heavy_heart_exclamation: each and every one of you here, but I have to apologize profusely because in the foreseeable future I will be either busy, or relaxing with Dear Friends (where you also belong to). I cannot always respond and will not be able to or simply forget as things can be hectic and I have my flaws. I am only human.

Learn and Teach I will do where I can, and I am sure you will too!

Note: If I just pass by in haste and Like what you do, I will just add my Heart :heart: to your post. I love to be able to give compliments, and give them with fondness and pride in you. Remember that fact.


#36

I’ve not seen it put this way before. This is a perspective I can get behind. Thank you.


#37

I like the HOTFIX idea. It reminds me of https://twitter.com/darkpatterns but instead of highlighting manipulative design, it provides examples of #mindfulpatterns, if you will. Crowd-sourced and education-oriented.


#38

re: initial focus on education/awareness, I completely agree. I take inspiration from the positive pressure the social entrepreneurship movement has had on the big corps. Even tho admittedly many are marketing-led efforts, you would be hard pressed to find a Fortune 500 company without a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) position. It was in their best interest to change and so they did. Obviously this is only the beginning.

Still, even when it’s easy to see/conceptualize a business’ negative externality (i.e. pollution = bad), it still took a monumental effort to impact the existing system’s incentive structures. wrt tech addiction specifically, the “negative externality” is much less obvious…and to be honest, I don’t think we fully understand what’s going on. Some of us feel/see it in our own work / observations, but most aren’t even aware.

And so it’s difficult to act + pace of tech innovation will only continue to speed up, etc etc. Hence, even for my own education, I think awareness thru explicit examples of the bad (+ the better, mindful alternative) is a good TANGIBLE first step forward. And something we can all collectively help out with.


#39

You should create a topic about this! @brian


#40

Cool. Search for dark patterns here. I post to that account whenever I encounter them A quick screenshot and some careful text to deepen the pun intended are all that’s needed. A 5 min. job :slight_smile:


#41

Didn’t know the darkpatterns account, great… Call them out! :slight_smile: