The Humane Tech Scene (Or Lack Thereof)

#1

Where is the humane tech scene? Who is teaching and fostering ethics and humane tech frameworks? Who is stimulating the creation and use of humane core tech services which can uplift society, to displace the harms and security threats posed by big bad tech?

The need for humane tech is not well know, but it is certain. Tech left to for-profit has been a disaster, with unethical behaviour exponentially accelerated by technology. People worldwide are being surveilled, billions of hours of people’s attention are being manipulated, people’s choices are being redirected, their agency hijacked and seemingly technology has even perverted the meaning of life itself.

But there is another way, because when people are given a real choice in what technology services they would use, they would choose humane tech because it is safer, more secure and most importantly it works for us instead of against us. Humane tech services, if they were to actually exist and provide the main functions of technology, have the power to readily disrupt many of the the major for-profit core services of technology that are currently provided by big bad tech.

Why haven’t governments and educational institutions been investing here? Certainly we can offer a greater return in the form of humanity than the startup scene. Although in humane tech potential profits are much smaller the overall return to society is much higher than that of for-profit tech, where the overall return to society through harms is very often negative.

The for-profit tech startup “scene” has been extremely visible and active, worldwide, for a long time now. Everyone from profiteers to investors to governments to educational institutions to millions of people looking for salvation in the wrong place have given something to this startup scene. And it’s an ugly scene, focussed on profit and blind to the world in so many ways. I suppose everyone has been following the money, governments looking for huge profits to tax, schools looking for tuition and grants, and people are following ludicrously massive tech salaries (in USA) and big salaries everywhere else.

What can we do to accelerate the creation of the humane tech scene?

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#2

You may like my first implementation of a People Directory, a who’s who in this community, which can be viewed already. It is very basic right now, but can be the go-to place if you are looking for specific people to help you with certain HT topics. See: People Directory on the Community Hub where members can introduce themselves

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#3

It requires a movement.
I believe in the (biomimicry) organic growing of many groups.
That no one group can satisfy the growth of a large movement.
So the system should be designed to happily spawn off sub-groups of interest.
And then fold the people back into the pipeline when the sub-group dies off.
But that’s a little bit much for here and now. :slight_smile:

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#4

That sounds very similar to the Snowflake model. See: List of Community-building resources

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#5

I will create a new Law or theory which may make big tech obsolete:

Increases in computing power and efficiency are making big tech less necessary, as tiny companies with tiny resources will be able to provide the major services currently provided by big tech.

Maybe this idea exists already, I don’t know.

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#6

That is a quite cool, and inspiring saying! Also do not forget the role of open-source that makes all that possible.

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#7

Yes open source makes it all possible, because I would think right now the most valuable resource is all that development work. Open source (and open data) provide work for free. But there is more than one problem with that:

  1. People can’t work much for free since they need to live. Though volunteering can be fun and rewarding, and is often more motivated than paid work.
  2. People do not work very effectively together in unstructured or loosely structured volunteer projects. There is tremendous lack of focus, duplication, lack of direction and vision.

So therefore, a corporation can focus on its goals and get them done, and achieve massive things. Corporations can create machine-learning and semi-automated systems to help them achieve more, with less human effort. Corporate centralised planning, effective management and control means they can achieve the same results as freewheeling open source volunteers in just a fraction of the hours.

So corporations are growing their software and data exponentially, because they have the power of automation. Meanwhile volunteers are growing their software and data linearly, because they do it manually. (Perhaps over time the corporations will only get further ahead, unless open source also starts to automate their work. When will AI start writing and editing Wikipedia articles?)

The areas where small humane tech can compete and win are basic core tech services, things like email, analytics, messaging, even ads – if people are willing to accept services that feel like they are 5-10 years behind what the corporate world offers, because they are humane and work in the interest of people instead of against them.

However for more complex things, the corporations will win. That is why the Center for Humane Tech Millionaires is targeting billionaires with their message, because they know the big bad tech corporations are unbeatable for most things.

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