Technology-design ethicist Tristan Harris explains how Facebook and other social-media platforms that use algorithms to keep users engaged endanger society by eroding our shared sense of reality and presenting people just what they want to see. “The thing that’s best at capturing a human being’s attention,” Harris says, “is going to be to show them an individual reality that confirms their world view.”
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GoldieBlox Founder and CEO Debbie Sterling recalls the moment she discovered what she wanted to do with her engineering degree. She says construction toys for little girls was something she wish she had as a kid and talks about how that would give them something more educational and empowering to play with than what was traditionally found in the girls toy aisle.
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Carlos Watson, co-founder of the daily news site Ozy, explains how his vision for reimagining news coverage began by asking himself what he disliked and what would delight the audience. The entrepreneur also talks about observing how innovators in other business sectors — ranging from transportation to technology — managed to enter and dominate already-crowded markets.
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Samasource Founder Leila Janah discusses the many ways that jobs are a more effective and sustainable way to reverse poverty than traditional aid. Also author of the book “Give Work,” Janah cites findings that earned income provides people with stability, community and dignity, while lessening an economy’s dependence on international donors.
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Patrick Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, maker of the plant-based “Impossible Burger,” talks about how meat production is essentially a “technology problem,” where the way we currently create beef – with cows – is fundamentally limited and unsustainable. “You don’t love meat because it’s made from animals, you love it in spite of the fact that it’s made from animals,” says Brown, previously a professor of biochemistry at Stanford.
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JetBlue Technology Ventures President Bonny Simi explains the importance of self confidence when taking risks. Citing widely known data on how men and women assess their qualifications for a job opening differently, Simi recalls how determination got her through her bumpy start in luge and eventually allowed her to become one of America’s top athletes in the sport.
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Tracy Chou, a prominent advocate for increasing diversity in tech companies, shares advice that can serve as a powerful tool for recognizing when inclusiveness might be an issue: Ask yourself, “Who’s not in the room?” She also warns people not to expect members of underrepresented groups to do all the work of raising awareness about diversity and inclusion, such as event organizing and program implementation.
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Dave Evans of the Life Design Lab at Stanford talks about how to prototype an idea for trying something new in work or life, and how the exercise should be fast, cheap and, most of all, a learning process. He explains that this type of prototyping takes two forms — talking to other people and trying things out — and likens the concept of “networking” to the innocuous task of asking someone for directions.