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From the latest email newsletter of the Center for Humane Technology.
We are as concerned as you are about the harms caused by persuasive technologies. A key lever in our theory of change at the Center for Humane Technology is applying pressure on technology companies by educating policy-makers. When government officials understand the harms more deeply, they can create guardrails to protect society.
On June 25, Tristan Harris, a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, testified on Capitol Hill in the U.S. Senate Commerce subcommittee hearing, "Optimizing for Engagement: Understanding the Use of Persuasive Technology on Internet Platforms" with Rashida Richardson (AI Now Institute), Maggie Stanphill (Google, Inc.) and Dr. Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Research). Tristan's opening statement argued that persuasive technology platforms have pretended to be in an equal relationship with users, while actually holding the upper hand in an asymmetric relationship. Paired with an extractive business model that is based on predicting and controlling people's choices in the name of maximizing engagement, this inevitably causes serious harm. Algorithms like YouTube recommendations suggest increasingly extreme, outrageous videos to keep us glued to tech sites. In the hearing Tristan said, "Because YouTube wants to maximize watch time, it tilts the entire ant colony of humanity towards crazytown." While many people feel they are opting in as an equal, in reality algorithms hold asymmetric power over us — they know more about us than we know about ourselves — even predicting when we are going to quit our jobs or are pregnant. As platforms gain the upper hand over the limits of human brains and society, they cannot be allowed to have an extractive relationship but a "Duty of Care" or a "Fiduciary" relationship. To learn more, check out CHT's testimony, watch Tristan's comments (17 min video) and read this Gizmodo article, "This is How You're Being Manipulated."
Lawmakers weighed in on the issues as well:
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
Thanks for this Jayne
I will be following up the links when I have time.... which just goes to show that for socially concerned techies like me Techsoup is persuasive.
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