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Former Google/Facebook/Mozilla Employees Will Fight Addictive Technologies (qz.com) 121

An anonymous reader quotes Quartz: A new alliance made up of former Silicon Valley cronies has aseembled to challenge the technological Frankenstein they've collectively created. The Center for Humane Technology is a group comprising former employees and pals of Google, Facebook, and Mozilla. The nonprofit launches today (Feb. 4) in the hopes that it can raise awareness about the societal tolls of technology, which its members believe are inherently addictive. The group will lobby for a bill to research the effects of technology on children's health... On Feb. 7, the group's members will participate in a conference focused on digital health for kids, hosted by the nonprofit Common Sense.
The group also plans an anti-tech addiction ad campaign at 55,000 schools across America, and has another $50 million in media airtime donated by partners which include Comcast and DirecTV.

The group's co-founder, a former Google design ethicist, told Quartz that tech companies "profit by drilling into our brains to pull the attention out of it, by using persuasion techniques to keep [us] hooked." And the group's web page argues that "What began as a race to monetize our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: mental health, democracy, social relationships, and our children."

Former Google/Facebook/Mozilla Employees Will Fight Addictive Technologies

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  • by localgh0st ( 1588343 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @03:26AM (#56069317)
    the Google + team how they made their product so non-addictive.
  • I get a real thrill when I create something really awesome.... You know that feeling... :) That Coding feeling... sometimes its all you can think about... you bump into walls when you got your mind set on a problem... lol Is that Bad?
  • by tinkerton ( 199273 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @04:03AM (#56069421)

    It's like with the banks. You've got these talented and nerdy characters that first work for a big bank, ripping off people in legal ways, and then when they've made a lot of money they purify themselves by going to work for an organisation which monitors the banking system. I don't know if I should condemn them, they're not less moral than other people, but they're certainly no moral guides.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @04:23AM (#56069449) Homepage Journal

    a former Google design ethicist

    A fucking what? Is that what people do when they fail the exam to be UX facilitator?

    • by NettiWelho ( 1147351 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @07:15AM (#56069803)

      a former Google design ethicist

      A fucking what? Is that what people do when they fail the exam to be UX facilitator?

      Sounds more like soviet political comissar to me

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      a former Google design ethicist

      A fucking what? Is that what people do when they fail the exam to be UX facilitator?

      An design ethisist is slightly more useful than a UX designer, he's the one that points out calling it the Nazi Bum Rape SS edition might be a bad idea. UX just fucks up the interface.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      You know how some ads try to look like the download button or make you swipe with a fake hair on the display? Or how some online shops sneak stuff into your basket or sign you up for a subscription that looks like a one off payment?

      Or how they offer multiple spam sign ups, some opt in and some opt out so that you can't just untick/tick everything?

      Have you ever heard of the power of default?

      That's the thin end of the design ethics wedge.

      • If they cause those things, shouldn't they be called design unethicists?

        If they're supposed to prevent them then they aren't doing a very good job.

        It has zero reason to even be a thing, let alone a thing people get paid for.

    • I believe it's a euphemism for "slime bag".

  • Collective IQ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rank Outsider ( 306477 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @05:14AM (#56069561) Homepage

    Remember Douglas Engelbart? Apart from the famous "mother of all demos" there was his philosophy which loosely says that technology should help boost IQ not subvert or replace it, as has largely happened.

  • Addiction is not itself the entire problem. We are addicted to many things that are good. Like oxygen. Or food. Or love.

    I'm all for not getting people hooked on things that harm them (like Facebook or Reddit etc). But in the process we should not ruin the good parts of technology either! Otherwise we have created harm to fight harm, as is so typical for us still-in-the-dark-ages humans.

    Nowadays, it has become far too fashionable, to obsess over a nostalgic view of a better past (that never existed) and over

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Monday February 05, 2018 @05:25AM (#56069583)

    Whenever Sen. Ed Markey (D-Salem 1680) lets fly on some science/tech subject, he is invariably dead wrong, and the best course of action is to do the opposite on whatever issue he is spouting about this time. I have never known my personal Markey Index to fail.

    First of all, the headline on this article is silly. What are Silicon Valley manufacturers supposed to do - intentionally make their products less attractive to consumers? The linked article focuses on 'tech addiction' as being the problem, and we have been here before. I have been around long enough to remember when tech addiction was phrased in the press as "teenagers" talking for hours on the old black plug-in wall telephone. Young people were offered this new mechanism for keeping in touch when they were not physically together, and they embraced it. Over time, telephony was integrated into the general culture and became part of the human background.

    Then there was the time when television was going to make zombies of us all, with nobody stepping outside ever again, and the rise of cars not just as competition for public transit, but as a place for "teenagers" to Have Sex. Note the theme developing here?

    So now that "teenagers" have discovered the smartphone this time, it has enabled a fad for social media. Though the idea that we would all drop everything to become addicted to Facebook is already dated, pearls are still being clutched over the possibility that some social medium will become mental Fentanyl. But now that Markey is involved, I know that can't happen.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Free to play games are designed to be additive so you pay. One common technique is to dangle rewards in front of the player but make them wait a long time if they don't pay.

      Say what you like about the players, but the companies developing these games put a huge amount of effort into making them addictive. Like gambling sites do a lot of R&D figuring out how to be more addictive.

      Addiction is a business model.

    • by shess ( 31691 )

      First of all, the headline on this article is silly. What are Silicon Valley manufacturers supposed to do - intentionally make their products less attractive to consumers?

      As someone who worked at one of those companies, IMHO the problem is not that they need to go against capitalism, the problem is that the people within the company often quite literally believe they are helping users with this stuff. If someone thinks they are taking advantage of people, you can plausibly reason with them to change their behavior. If someone believes they are helping, then it is REALLY HARD to work with them to fix what they're doing wrong.

      The linked article focuses on 'tech addiction' as being the problem, and we have been here before. I have been around long enough to remember when tech addiction was phrased in the press as "teenagers" talking for hours on the old black plug-in wall telephone. Young people were offered this new mechanism for keeping in touch when they were not physically together, and they embraced it. Over time, telephony was integrated into the general culture and became part of the human background.

      Then there was the time when television was going to make zombies of us all, with nobody stepping outside ever again, and the rise of cars not just as competition for public transit, but as a place for "teenagers" to Have Sex. Note the theme developing here?

      So now that "teenagers" have discovered the smartphone this time, it has enabled a fad for social media. Though the idea that we would all drop everything to become addicted to Facebook is already dated, pearls are still being clutched over the possibility that some social medium will become mental Fentanyl. But now that Markey is involved, I know that can't happen.

      Maybe, maybe not. At this point, we have the com

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How about encouraging good parenting? Lot of the problems these people created was a direct result of addictive technology. But it also created a connection for bullying, and other bad behavior. But a lack of parenting to monitor this behavior and limit technology addiction is more about bad parenting. Giving kids a Facebook user account in grade school or even a $800 smartphone that you do not monitor as a parent is certainly a prime contributor to kids abusing technology. How about the other gorilla in th

  • remove all traces of internet from your home, cancel your mobile internet subscriptions, shutdown your router and wifi access points!
    now enjoy your new addictive-free life and go watch some TV.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So is this the start of the tech #metoo movement? Spend years agreeing to doing things to get ahead in your career, then once you get established now turn around and complain about how you were used?

  • Aseembled? We don't need to steenkin' aseemble!

  • A lot of this criticism of changes to technology affecting our day-to-day lives comes from "enlightened" individuals who assume that others are too stupid to know what's best for themselves or have any self control. This is not that that different from people, both liberal and conservative, who assume that single moms, who collect welfare welfare, don't know how to properly use the money, or are too dumb or uneducated to do so. "Don't give that homeless mom $5 for gas, she's going to buy Newports with it.
  • .... how these kids that grew up with an ipad glued to their face turn out.

  • I stand corrected; I've thought for a long time now that social media had become cancerous spontaneously, now I see it's cancerous by design. Time for some Digital Chemo.

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