There is a growing backlash against technology being catalyzed by some of the architects of the persuasive habit-forming techniques. The Guardian does a survey of user experience designers and engineers who are taking drastic actions to curtail their personal technology addiction behaviors, and asking some deeper questions about the ethical responsibility of major companies in Silicon Valley to be socially-responsible guardians of the attention economy. Tristan Harris is one of these former persuasive designers who has formed a non-profit called Time Well Spent focused on gathering quantified data for how happy people are using different mobile apps, and Harris shared some data on Sam Harris’ podcast that people are happy with 1/3 of the time they’ve spent on the most popular apps, but that they’re unhappy with or regret how they’re spending 2/3 of their time.
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Most companies are optimizing for duration on their websites, but it’s difficult for them to measure the first-person phenomenological experience of that time spent on their site. There are more and more people who feel like they are being manipulated and hooked into forming habits on apps that are designed to reward compulsive behaviors. There’s a growing counter movement of consciousness hackers who are trying to take a more mindful and purposeful approach to how they use technology. They’re using biosensors to get feedback and insights on their behaviors, and are trying to cultivate more flourishing, well-being, connection, compassion, mental health, and sanity in their lives.
At the Institute of Noetic Science Conference in July, I had a chance to sit down with the founder of Consciousness Hacking Mikey Seagul as well as with Julia Mossbridge, who is the director of the Innovation Lab at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. We talk about transcendence technology, quantified self applications designed for transformation, designing human-aware artificial intelligence optimized for emotional intelligence and cultivating compassion, the matching problem, and the insights of neurophenomenology for combining first person and third person data.