Live from Confab: Toward humane tech

Toward humane tech, by Anil Dash

confab logoAnil’s been working on the web for 20 years. He helped build Movable Type, one of the first CMSs, and got connected to a community of idealistic creators. “We dreamed of connecting people.” And the internet has connected people in many ways.

15 years ago, the people working on the web were underdogs. But now, we won! Collectively, we’ve changed the world.

But what did we (individually) make? What were our choices?

We need to take responsibility

He found that the repeating pattern is that brands publicly fail when they try to speak in a way outside their expertise. They need to consider what it means to speak “publicly.” The same is true for individuals – what is “public” is very confusing. We don’t have solid privacy controls, the NSA is tracking content online and on phones, the NYPD is tracking high school students’ social media and arresting kids who may be gang members, with the evidence being what they said online.

We’ve changed the game in terms of what it means to be on social media. We didn’t anticipate this level of “public” when we designed social media, but now that we have it, we need to take responsibility.

We have choices. We are very fortunate (the people in this room), but not everyone is.

Credit (or blame)

There’s not a good way to give credit or blame for who built a digital experience. Slowly, that’s going to start looking like we’re hiding. We’re dealing with peoples’ lives, whether we’re working with healthcare apps or social media.

We try to make good decisions, but sometimes we make mistakes. Even if we’re “the good guys,” ¬†good intentions are not enough. We have power – our technology may have personality, but it also handles people’s health, or even just people’s enjoyment. Anil’s Echo misheard his 4yr old, and said “you’re pretty talkative for a dead person.” CREEPY!

We need to go further into what can go wrong, and who can be victimized. There is so much potential, and as the storytellers, we’re the ones who can explore it.

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