This community needs more involvement from its founders!

Dear Founders,

When I joined the community on Feb 4 I was really triggered by the mission and vision of the CHT, fully agreed with the problem statement and the conveyed urgency to address it (landing page: “Why is this problem so urgent?”).

Also the website hints at a big plan being in the works to address these issues (from problem statement: “What we feel as addiction is part of something much bigger.”, “The whole system is vulnerable to manipulation.”, and in The Way Forward “In the future, we will look back at today as a turning point towards humane design…”

We are now almost 2 months on, have almost 1300 members who joined the cause, but there has been no follow-up communications from the founders on their future plans and roadmap! This notwithstanding that many members, including me, have asked for more clarity multiple times. This community currently is steerless, and I would think that that is not a good humane practice, sorry to say.

Two weeks ago I contacted Tristan Harris about this issue and he agreed with me (“Dear Arnold, thank you and you’re right. we should be chiming in.”). He also told me that the CHT is currently under-capacity and works very, very hard to organize, get things done, which I appreciate a great deal!!

But I think now is that time to chime in, as the confusion is growing as @patm accurately states in her response to my proposal to have Topic categories that reflect core Humane Tech themes

As far as I can tell–and I have only read a few of the posts–we members don’t know why we are gathered here. (Some people seem to be running away from something, and others toward something; the collisions need to be recognized and sorted out.) Of course the obvious conclusion is that we are here to teach, collaborate, share. But as with defining the humane impulse, clarification and structure are needed.

What this community and forum direly needs is:

  1. Positioning on what constitutes Humane Tech and what are the core CHT themes
  2. Strategy to translate vision + mission to real action
  3. Steering so members don’t feel lost and to get them on the right track
  4. Tooling to follow-up on forum discussions in any productive way. This forum on its own does not cut it
  5. Organization so the forum is not just a long, messy list of posts that get forgotten over time
  6. Structure so we know where/how to add new content consistently and effectively

Founders, I know you share my concern, and hope you also understand why I am posting this in such direct manner :slight_smile:

Your member and moderator,

Arnold.

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Thank you founders and moderators!!

@Founders- say Hi and update us on your thoughts- even if they are not complete. Not everything in this world must be innovative, some of our most innovative ideas in life are simple statements of what is.

It’s a big weight, so don’t carry this alone- each of us are doing the best we can- putting one foot in front of the other.

We are together.

@tristanh Thanks for the update! 5 weeks is a long time to be in crisis mode- you don’t know me but sorry to hear this. I hope your family member is better. PM me if you need any specialist recommendations at UCSF Medical Center. So much going on so take time to breathe. Put your oxygen mask on first.

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Excellent; many thanks for writing this!

Yes it’s a pity as our heroes have assembled 1300 troops here, alas without guidance.

There are people in these forums who are incredibly talented and intelligent, leaders in their fields. Seems people here want some kind of humane tech revolution, but lack diretion and clarity. I have some experience in a real life revolution, and could step up to the task of helping to coordinate things.

We have spent enough time already on discussion and defining the problem. We now need to choose which aspects of the problem the community wants to focus on. I would say the next step is we need some kind of thread on deciding what the appropriate next steps for the community should be and how we as the community can get to work.

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The people here needs some direction and leadership. I remember the chatrooms long time ago the topics were more organized and not confusing. We need some real changes in here where different communities can share and participate to solve various problems besetting technology. Social media particularly is in a crossroad where privacy issues are concern. we must cease this moment. We may at long last gain some control of our data.

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Want to underscore that your needs list is great. Many thanks for expressing these ideas so clearly.

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Here is something I copied from Wikipedia while doing research for some writing:

Regarding “politics without principle”, Gandhi said having politics without truth(s) to justly dictate the action creates chaos, which ultimately leads to violence. Gandhi called these missteps “passive violence,” ‘which fuels the active violence of crime, rebellion, and war.’ He said, “We could work 'til doomsday to achieve peace and would get nowhere as long as we ignore passive violence in our world.”

We aren’t involved in politics in CHT, but some of Gandhi’s thinking applies to us. I think the main applicable idea is not having principles, ethics that justly dictate the action. We could try to construct a gentle but sweeping revolution guided by humanistic and ethical principles. Perhaps we need a manifesto?

It seems that we all want to create heaven for humans here, without first understanding what “a human being” is. I enjoy the discussion, really makes sense but quickly becomes so big that it is virtually unmanageable for mere mortals.

It all boils down to “who am I and what am I doing here”; catapulting this whole discussion into the realms of spirituality.

On the subject of ethics and morals…Check Denise Lawrence’s talks on Youtube. Be ready to have your foundation shaken. In short… Ethics and morals are created by the few to maintain their privileges.

On the subject of violence:

  • hurt people hurt people.
  • Alcohol and drugs numb the brain and thus create passive or active violence.
  • If your parents where “less than perfect” you will be “less than perfect”. How are imperfect humans going to create perfect tech? In other words: do your homework; work on yourself; clean up your act whilst working on tech. Don’t expect your today’s programming to be valid (for you or the world at large) in 5 or 10 years.
  • eating meat or fish is (a form of) violence. Humane tech without going vegetarian or vegan is avoiding the main issue for peace on the planet.

etc.

But yes, I do think we (some of us at least) can build humane tech.
The hidden agendas are important to understand and then let go off. (Ultimately mind control)

What seems needed more than tech is individual mind control. (Self Mastery). From there, healthy tech will emerge naturally.

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Yes I agree that people by nature are opportunistic. But also humans by nature are against evil and when people realise something is clearly evil they will fight it.

With tech the problem is the bad things happen in the shadows, using technology that nobody cares to understand. All we need to do is expose what’s happening, and show how the bad actors include the largest technology companies. We can very easily denostrate, quite clearly and conclusively, that Facebook, Google, etc. deliberatly do things which do harm to their own users.

Currently the press and public doesn’t want to fully believe that tech really is married to the devil because 1) either they don’t understand technology or it’s too complicated 2) they themselves are numbed and jaded 3) they believe the false self-images and propoganda of the tech companies. It’s up to us to open people’s minds up reality with concrete examples and facts, though our own investigative journalism.

Finding CHT was like a breath of fresh air. I was so relieved; finally someone is doing something about this obvious problem!

Getting involved with this community has been even more rewarding.

There are two sides to humane tech; the first is how designers build it. The second is how users use it. There are many software designers and tech people in this community who are working on the first problem, and CHT seems geared towards the design side of things as well. In my view, this site has all the ingredients to make progress on that second side, too. We can promote a serious change in how we interact online. We can provide a new model for humane online discussion that is infamously lacking on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.

I am totally behind @aschrijver’s message in this post. CHT, you have built a small army of people who are passionate, energized, and ready to help fulfill your mission. Every advocacy-based nonprofit in the world would kill for what you have here, and you have built it almost by accident (all you really did was set up the Discourse site). We were all drawn here purely by the mission. Imagine what you can do if you incorporate this into your strategy? Please don’t let all this energy and enthusiasm for your cause go to waste!

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Agree, wholeheartedly cosign. At least you heard back from Tristan. I replied to the volunteer form way back when, heard nothing.

I don’t want to be pessimistic about it, but I think this is par for the course for wealthy people trying to get famous as public intellectuals. We might ought consider that Tristan and Robert already have what they want — social capital to get paid speaking fees to do private-TED talks to their peers. Tristan doesn’t come off as a revolutionary, anyway.

There’s not a lot of teeth to this whole operation. Mobile apps that are like, better seems to be the beginning and end of their vision.

In short, I don’t think this community was necessarily made to involve us. Like much of our Hypernormalized world, assembling here is another means of placation.

But like I said… I’d like not to be cynical.

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I agree as well. The mission of Humane Tech (as I understand it) is aligned with the work I’m doing and I would love to support others and get support for human-healthy technology (and ways to be healthy in a technological world).

Especially as the issue is becoming a part of public discourse at the moment, it feels like we need opportunities to move forward together, either by leadership from the founders, or by being empowered to take more collective actions. (This would require some unification in mission and goals-- again, leadership is important!)

If there is a plan in the works, or even no plan, it would be helpful to have more transparency to understand what the thought process going on might be. Thanks!

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I just wrote a message to Tristan Harris through his website. I encourage everybody else to do the same. The best way to get a real response on this is to show him how many of us there really are who care about these issues. I used this contact form on his personal website: http://www.tristanharris.com/contact/. If anyone knows of a better way to get in touch with him, or any other CHT staff, please share.

Feel free to borrow any portion of this in your own message to him or any other CHT staff.

Dear Tristan,

Thank you for everything you are doing to bring ethical tech design into the public spotlight.

When I read about the founding of the Center for Humane Technology earlier this year, I was blown away with excitement. I was familiar with your work before, but the creation of the CHT suddenly made it feel so much more official.

Since joining your online community at community.humanetech.com, I have spent 8 hours reading and discussing issues related to humane technology with a community of over 1,300 people from across the world. I even volunteered to become a moderator on the site. I can say without a doubt that it has been time well spent.

I challenge you to spend 15 minutes reading through the “Introduce Yourself” thread on your online community - here’s the link to make it extra easy for you: https://community.humanetech.com/t/introduce-yourself/. At the time of this writing, there are 318 posts from smart, talented, motivated people who were drawn to your movement because they wholeheartedly believe in what you are doing. The excitement in these posts is some of the most genuine positive energy you will find on the internet today. It’s the language of a group of people who feel they have “found their tribe”. If you have not yet read these people’s responses, I promise you it will be a good use of your time.

Tristan, this group of 1,300 and growing is energized and ready to take action. If you give them something to do, they will jump at the chance.

Everybody wants to build a grassroots movement nowadays, but so rarely do they actually emerge spontaneously. You have the foundations of a genuinely global grassroots movement, and it would be a shame if you wasted that potential by neglecting the online community where all that energy is being vented right now.

I hope you will stop by and have a look at all the people who have signed up out of concern for the issues you have spoken about in your TED talks and in the media. You won’t regret it.

Thanks,
Aaron Fuchs

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I generally agree about some more presence from who started this movement, set up the community and so on. But I also think that Tristan Harris is not a god that we can invoke: “Please tell us what to do!”, he is only one of us. So ideas can come up from us too (there are some already there), we just have to coordinate and agree on some common principles of action, not only of critics.

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I have felt something similar and I’m glad that you’ve been able to put it into words. Yes Tristan comes off like a techie and a startup guy, not as a revolutionary. Yet of course he deeply cares about the issue and about fixing it, and has done so much.

From my experiece it’s always been this way with revolutions that I’ve personlly participated in. The people in charge keep themselves distant and also connected politically and to the media, or in this case connected to the intellectual community and speaking jobs. Meanwhile the footsoldiers are well, just always footsoldiers and their opinions are typically ignored.

I understand them, that their appearance as revolutionaries would threaten their speaking, their tech industry contacts, and even threaten the entire organisation. So they’re going for a moderate route and I agree with that. However I get the feeling there will never be any teeth to their actions. While the leadership is amazingly talented, they are themselves of the menality of the tech industry itself and of US millenials. And so instead of free the world from the slavery of tech, we get “we suggest you set your phone to black and white”. Sigh.

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11 posts were split to a new topic: further discussion

I think Center for Humane Technology is doing good and amazing things. But as this forum demonstrates they are not going to provide us with leadership. We need people here to step up to leadership roles and organise the community. Then the community’s options will be unlimited.

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Very nicely written. Thank you. Whether or not Tristan Harris replies, you’ve articulated some guidelines for action, and that is the essential thing.

The journalistic literature on the “evils” of technology is extensive. Wired, Medium, The New Yorker, New York Times, Guardian have all published articles and opinion pieces on this topic. Wired just published an outstanding article on Mark Z. and Facebook. My only criticism of that article is that it portrays MZ as innocent of the “evils” Facebook has unleashed. I don’t accept that. However, the article also led me to CHT, which I am very grateful for.

Hi Arnold,

the current situation could be also an opportunity for self-organizing. Why do not get this as a challenge? Is it or not our aim in a digital social and economic life?
Instead of starting from a full set of aims/needs as you suggested, can we imagine to be in an emergency and choose one single point to start within the existing set of topics?

Best,

Enzo

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