Center for Humane Technology

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Center for Humane Technology
FounderTristan Harris, Aza Raskin and others
Formerly called
Time Well Spent

The Center for Humane Technology (formerly known as Time Well Spent) is a nonprofit organization focused on the ethics of consumer technology. The Center advocates for regulators and technology companies to avoid social media features and profit incentives that it sees as contributing to internet addiction, political extremism, and misinformation.[1][2]


Former Google employee Tristan Harris founded the project to raise awareness about the intentional design to make consumer technology addictive.[citation needed] James Williams co-founded the movement, and also dedicates his time to focusing on the ethics of technology design.[3][4] The two men founded the organization to spread awareness and talk about the aspects of technology that are often ignored, such as attention and distraction and their effects on the user.[3] After beginning to spread his ideas about the ethics of technological design through the community at Google, Harris adopted the title "product philosopher," where he researched how the company could incorporate ethical design.[5] Harris left his position at Google in December 2015 to focus on the organization.[5]


The organization encourages designers and companies to respect users' time and to create products which have as an end goal something other than maximizing use of products to sell advertising.[1][5] There are multiple ways that technology companies try to maximize the use of their products: by using an intermittent variable reward system, causing people to fear missing something important, increasing the desire for social approval, strengthening the need to reciprocate others' gestures, and interrupting individuals' daily activities to alert them of a notification.[6] Harris claims that technology parallels slot machines, in that both use intermittent variable rewards to increase addiction.[6] According to Harris, companies have a responsibility to reduce this effect, through techniques such as increasing the predictability of their designs and eliminating the intermittent variable reward system all together.


In a 2018 post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described feeling a "responsibility to make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people's well-being", announcing "a major change to how we build Facebook" so that time spent on the site is "time well spent."[7] It has been suggested that this is an allusion to the organization.[8]

One of the efforts of the Center for Humane Technology will be a media campaign about the dangers of technology, with Common Sense Media. Common Sense has commitments of $50 million of donated media and airtime from partners including Comcast and DirecTV.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b O'Brien, Miles (30 January 2017). "Your phone is trying to control your life". PBS NewsHour. PBS. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  2. ^ Menn, Joseph (24 April 2019). "Technology ethics campaigners offer plan to fight 'human downgrading'". Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b "#62 Time Well Spent with James Williams - Digital Mindfulness". Digital Mindfulness. 2016-12-30. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  4. ^ "James Williams — Oxford Internet Institute". Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  5. ^ a b c Bosker, Bianca (November 2016). "The Binge Breaker". The Atlantic. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  6. ^ a b Harris, Tristan (2016-05-27). "How Technology Hijacks People's Minds". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-10.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "'Time well spent' is shaping up to be tech's next big debate". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  9. ^ "Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built". The New York Times. 2018-02-04. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-05-03.

Further reading[edit]

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