In this podcast from the Center for Humane Technology, co-hosts Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin confront catastrophic risk with existential hope. How is technology both a symptom and a driver of broader social, political, and economic forces? How do we reimagine humane technology that supports our shared well-being, sense-making, and ability to tackle complex global challenges? And what can we do together to catalyze a more humane future?
Tristan and Aza will treat your attention with care as they explore these questions with academics, activists, cultural & faith-based leaders, and experts on everything from sense-making in a post-truth world to the psychology of the climate crisis. After you listen, join our virtual Podcast Club, which features live Q&As with guests followed by small-group discussions.
If you're new to the show, start with Kate Raworth on renegade economics, Audrey Tang on digital democracy, Daniel Schmachtenberger on global coordination, or Yuval Noah Harari on the co-evolution between technology and democracy.
Your Undivided Attention is produced by the Center for Humane Technology. Our Executive Producer is Stephanie Lepp, and our Associate Producer is Noor Al-Samarrai.
Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen in Conversation
We are now in social media's Big Tobacco moment. And that’s largely thanks to the courage of one woman: Frances Haugen.
Frances is a specialist in algorithmic product management. She worked at Google, Pinterest, and Yelp before joining Facebook — first as a Product Manager on Civic Misinformation, and then on the Counter-Espionage team. But what she saw at Facebook was that the company consistently and knowingly prioritized profits over public safety. So Frances made the courageous decision to blow the whistle — which resulted in the biggest disclosure in the history of Facebook, and in the history of social media.
In this special interview, co-hosts Tristan and Aza go behind the headlines with Frances herself. We go deeper into the problems she exposed, discuss potential solutions, and explore her motivations — along with why she fundamentally believes change is possible. We also announce an exciting campaign being launched by the Center for Humane Technology — to use this window of opportunity to make Facebook safer.
Bonus — A Whirlwind Week of Whistleblowing
In seven years of working on the problems of runaway technology, we’ve never experienced a week like this! In this bonus episode of Your Undivided Attention, we recap this whirlwind of a week — from Facebook whistleblower France Haugen going public on 60 Minutes on Sunday, to the massive outage of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp on Monday, to Haugen’s riveting Congressional testimony on Tuesday. We also make some exciting announcements — including our planned episode with Haugen up next, the Yale social media reform panel we’re participating in on Thursday, and a campaign we’re launching to pressure Facebook to make one immediate change.
This week it truly feels like we’re making history — and you’re a part of it.
Making Meaning in Challenging Times
What helps you make meaning in challenging times? As you confront COVID, the climate crisis, and all of the challenges we discuss on this show, what helps you avoid nihilism or fundamentalism, and instead access healing, inspiration, and connection?
Today on Your Undivided Attention, we're joined by anthropologist and writer Jamie Wheal. Wheal is the author of Recapture the Rapture: Rethinking God, Sex and Death In a World That's Lost Its Mind. In the book, he makes the case that in order to address the meta-crisis — the interconnected challenges we face, which we talked about in Episode 36 with Daniel Schmachtenberger, we must address the meaning crisis — the need to stay inspired, mended, and bonded in challenging times. Jamie argues that it doesn't matter whether we're staying inspired, mended, and bonded through institutionalized religion or other means as long as meaning-making is inclusively available to everyone.
What we hope you'll walk away with is a humane way to think about how to address the challenges we face, from COVID to climate — by enabling us to make meaning in challenging times.
Bonus — The Facebook Files with Tristan Harris, Frank Luntz, and Daniel Schmachtenberger
On September 13th, the Wall Street Journal released The Facebook Files, an ongoing investigation of the extent to which Facebook's problems are meticulously known inside the company — all the way up to Mark Zuckerberg. Pollster Frank Luntz invited Tristan Harris along with friend and mentor Daniel Schmachtenberger to discuss the implications in a live webinar.
In this bonus episode of Your Undivided Attention, Tristan and Daniel amplify the scope of the public conversation about The Facebook Files beyond the platform, and into its business model, our regulatory structure, and human nature itself.
The Power of Solutions Journalism
What is the goal of our digital information environment? Is it simply to inform us, or also to empower us to act?
The Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) understands that simply reporting on social problems rarely leads to change. What they’ve discovered is that rigorously reporting on responses to social problems is more likely to give activists and concerned citizens the hope and information they need to take effective action. For this reason, SJN trains journalists to report on “solutions angles.” More broadly, the organization seeks to rebalance the news, so that people are exposed to stories that help them understand the challenges we face as well as potential ways to respond.
In this episode, Tina Rosenberg, co-founder of SJN, and Hélène Biandudi Hofer, former manager of SJN’s Complicating the Narratives initiative, walk us through the origin of solutions journalism, how to practice it, and what impact it has had. Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin reflect on how humane technology, much like solutions journalism, should also be designed to create an empowering relationship with reality — enabling us to shift from learned helplessness to what we might call learned hopefulness.
Do You Want to Become a Vampire?
How do we decide whether to undergo a transformative experience when we don’t know how that experience will change us? This is the central question explored by Yale philosopher and cognitive scientist L.A. Paul.
Paul uses the prospect of becoming a vampire to illustrate the conundrum: let's say Dracula offers you the chance to become a vampire. You might be confident you'll love it, but you also know you'll become a different person with different preferences. Whose preferences do you prioritize: yours now, or yours after becoming a vampire? Similarly, whose preferences do we prioritize when deciding how to engage with technology and social media: ours now, or ours after becoming users — to the point of potentially becoming attention-seeking vampires?
In this episode with L.A. Paul, we're raising the stakes of the social media conversation — from technology that steers our time and attention, to technology that fundamentally transforms who we are and what we want. Tune in as Paul, Tristan Harris, and Aza Raskin explore the complexity of transformative experiences, and how to approach their ethical design.
Simplying the seemingly complex simplicity of 2020 Media Platforms
This podcasts deep dives into every issue that relates to how modern day media platforms work, how they affect us and in what ways we can move towards action to take back control of our information environment in healthier more truly social ways.