Summary of How Better Tech Could Protect Us from Distraction

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People know they spend too much of their precious time scrolling through websites and checking their apps – yet they keep doing it anyway. Tristan Harris, a former design ethicist at Google, believes that the source of society’s screen addiction isn’t a lack of willpower but a deliberate design choice. In a thought-provoking TED Talk, Harris calls upon designers to create technology that helps people spend their time in accordance with their deepest values. getAbstract recommends his speech to technology consumers and designers.

About the Speaker

Tristan Harris is a former design ethicist at Google. He co-founded Time Well Spent, a nonprofit organization that advocates design ethics.



Today’s technology aims to keep users on an app or website for as long as possible. This comes at a tremendous cost to consumers, who have less and less control over the way they spend their time – and, ultimately, their lives. What’s more, researcher Gloria Mark has shown that frequent external interruptions, such as incoming text messages, condition the human mind to interrupt itself. This compromises people’s ability to stay focused on a task. After each interruption, regaining focus takes, on average, 23 minutes.

Knowing that tech designers intend to control...

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