Dear Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos
A letter to five people
Thank you for bringing wonderful technology into our world. Technology that helps us learn, find, shop, share and connect with each other. The world is a better place thanks to you—your success has created hundreds of thousands of jobs and given billions of people opportunities and possibilities they did not have before.
However, as you are surely aware, the competition for securing customers and users’ attention has had unintended side effects such as stress, sleep disturbances, decision fatigue, bonding issues and so forth. Side effects, which we have clearly documented in our book Offline.
As we humans continue to increase our use of smartphones, tablets and social media, it becomes increasingly important that you help counter these side effects by making your products and services more human-centric. The technologies that will lead us into the coming centuries are a force for good but must be tempered by a greater focus on ensuring that their use is safe and without unintended biological, psychological or social consequences.
We think you should work together to set up a well-funded independent organization tasked with studying the impact of smartphones, tablets, VR, augmentative technologies, social media and so forth on human cognitive function and social coherence—that you should task this organization to publish findings and recommendations for making technology more human- centric—and that you should pledge to take these recommendations seriously and strive to integrate them into future versions of the technology you market.
In doing so, you show support for a new paradigm of human-centric technology, and will make not just us, but literally billions of people more satisfied with being your customers and users.
Dr. Imran Rashid & Soren Kenner