Who We Are

Our Story

We envision a world where technology is realigned with humanity’s best interests. Our work expands beyond tech addiction to the broader societal threats that the attention economy poses to our well-being, relationships, democracy, and shared information environment. We must address these threats to conquer our biggest global challenges like pandemics, inequality, and climate change.

Our journey began in 2013 when Tristan Harris, a design ethicist at Google, observed the large-scale negative impacts of attention-grabbing business models. His presentation “A Call to Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention” went viral internally, reaching thousands of employees. Tristan extended the conversation publicly with two TED talks and a 60 Minutes interview, sparking the Time Well Spent movement. The number of concerned insiders was growing… Then, in 2016, the harms Tristan and others were warning of exploded into the public discourse with Russia’s use of social media to manipulate American voters.

Building on that momentum, CHT launched in 2018 as an independent nonprofit. In the short time since, the landscape has dramatically shifted and the harms of tech platforms are laid bare for everyone to see.

The timeline below illustrates the most notable public steps on CHT’s journey, along with real-world progress toward more humane technology.

2013
Ex-Google design ethicist Tristan Harris sparks the Time Well Spent movement via TED and 60 Minutes
2013

Google design ethicist Tristan Harris’ viral presentation, A Call to Minimize Distraction & Respect Users’ Attention, reverberates through Google

2014

Tristan Harris presents “Time Well Spent” at TEDxBrussels

April 2017

60 Minutes features Tristan Harris and Anderson Cooper discussing Silicon Valley’s “brain hacking” and illusion of neutrality

2018
Center for Humane Technology created in wake of Time Well Spent’s successes
February 2018

Center for Humane Technology, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, is founded by Tristan Harris, Aza Raskin, and Randima Fernando.

CHT partners with Common Sense Media to launch #TruthAboutTech Campaign

March 2018

Cambridge Analytica scandal spotlights social media platforms after data from up to 87 million people was deviously used for political campaigns

June 2018

CHT has grown from a founding trio in 2018 to 15+ cross-disciplinary team.

Major tech platforms announce new Time Well Spent features
January 2018

Time Well Spent places the threat posed by technology squarely into public discourse

“By focusing on bringing people closer together — whether it’s with family and friends, or around important moments in the world — we can help make sure that Facebook is time well spent,” Zuckerberg writes in Jan 2018. Facebook in 2018 changes how its News Feed operates to reduce users’ time spent on the site in favor of well-being.

May 2018

Google announces new initiative to improve digital wellbeing by helping users understand their online habits and set better boundaries.

YouTube releases “time watched” metric, adding a “take a break” notification when users hit a self-reported limit.

June 2018

Apple introduces a dashboard, app limits, and additional parental controls. The message is clear: these are now default features of any smartphone operating system. CEO Tim Cook endorses a “comprehensive federal privacy law.”

July 2018

Facebook-owned Instagram introduces “You’re All Caught Up” checkmark when users have seen every post from the last two days.

2019
CHT diagnoses the attention economy’s harms, charting a course to humane technology
April 2019

CHT’s A New Agenda for Tech launches a unified agenda for meaningful change through a live presentation to 300 top technologists and other stakeholders, illuminating the interconnected harms and existential threats from persuasive technology

June 2019

CHT’s podcast launches, Your Undivided Attention, downloaded by hundreds of thousands of concerned technologists and citizens (585,000 and counting as of July 2020)

December 2019

New York Times op-ed by Tristan Harris: Our Brains Are No Match for Our Technology, also appearing in the NYT Intl Edition

Tristan Harris featured in Fortune's 25 Ideas That Will Shape the 2020s among world leaders Malala, Jamie Dimon, and Melinda Gates

The Chronicle of Philanthropy counts Humane Tech among 2020’s Top Buzzwords

Ongoing

CHT’s language and problem framing, including phrases like “Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach”, are engaged ever more widely in public discourse — including in Sacha Baron Cohen’s keynote address at ADL's 2019 Never Is Now Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate, Damian Collins’ remarks at the Riga Stratcom Dialogue 2019, Jack Dorsey’s announcement that Twitter will ban political ads, and Congress members from both sides of the aisle

CHT raises awareness and drives change through high-profile presentations to global leaders, briefing sessions, public testimony, and mass media media campaigns reaching millions (recent coverage in CBS This Morning, Wall Street Journal, The Times UK, New York Times, Associated Press)

April 2020

CHT releases Technology Guidelines for Parents to help parents navigate social media with their children during the COVID-19 pandemic

May 2020

The Social Dilemma, directed by award-winning filmmaker Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice, 2012; Chasing Coral, 2017), signs with Netflix. Featuring several CHT staff and advisors, the film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, “fusing investigative documentary with enlightening narrative drama — think An Inconvenient Truth meets The Matrix

June 2020

CHT revises its Ledger of Harms, a collection of the most compelling research on the negative externalities of social media

Ongoing
CHT advances tech policy via testimony, op-eds, major presentations, and closed-door convenings
May 2019

Tristan Harris invited to President Emmanuel Macron’s Tech for Good summit in Paris, alongside industry leaders and global heads of state

CHT Co-Founder Aza Raskin co-chairs newly established Global Artificial Intelligence Council of the World Economic Forum, exploring the potential for AI fiduciaries and human rights impacts

Facebook co-founder and CHT advisor Chris Hughes releases pivotal op-ed: It’s Time to Break Up Facebook

June 2019
October 2019

Marc Benioff says it's time to break up Facebook | Benioff first called out Facebook at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018, at which he likened the platform to "cigarettes"

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announces that Twitter will ban all political ads, including direct references to social media’s impact on global existential risks, and CHT language like “freedom of speech is not freedom of reach”

January 2020

Tristan Harris, Yaël Eisenstat, Chris Hughes, Eli Pariser, and others cosign Ten things technology platforms can do to safeguard the 2020 U.S. election.

Tristan Harris speaks at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, including “Tech Cannot be Trusted to Self-Regulate” and a New York Times panel with Yuval Harari

Tristan Harris testifies in a House hearing titled Americans at Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age

June 2020

Tristan Harris and former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang discuss “Tech, Governance and the Fate of Society as We Know It” on Collision at Home

CHT works with technologists inside major tech platforms to create conditions for change
September 2018

Tristan Harris invited by Marc Benioff to keynote Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference: How To Stop Technology From Destabilizing The World

June 2019 - Ongoing

CHT hosts dinners, convenings, and private conversations with influential technologists and C-level tech executives to advance humane technology

November 2019

Tristan Harris previews CHT’s Humane Technology Principles at What’s Now SF: A Path to Humane Technology

March 2020

CHT launches its COVID-19 rapid response work, including senior tech leader convenings, a microsite and writing op-eds.

May 2020

CHT launches its Humane Technology Principles, a new paradigm for technologists who accept that technology is increasingly shaping our social fabric and want to help realign technology with humanity.

July 2020

CHT advises Stop Hate for Profit, an initiative led by the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, and Color of Change to bring over 1000 major brands together for the first time to protest hate speech on Facebook’s platforms by taking aim at the social network’s $70 billion in annual ad revenue.

Listen to Our Podcast

Learn how the race for attention manipulates our choices, breaks down truth, and destabilizes our real-world communities.

Our Team

We are a team of deeply concerned tech industry and social impact leaders who intimately understand how the tech industry’s culture, techniques, and business models control the 21st century digital infrastructure. We are dedicated to a radical reimagining of technology that operates for the common good of humanity.

Management Team

Tristan Harris

Co-Founder & President

Called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan was the former Design Ethicist at Google. He is a world expert on how technology steers us all, leaving Google to engage the issue publicly. Tristan spent over a decade understanding subtle psychological forces, from his childhood as a magician, to working with the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, to his role as CEO of Apture, which was acquired by Google. Tristan has been sounding the alarm about technology’s dark sides before most of the world caught on, according to Bloomberg, having been featured on 60 Minutes, TED, the PBS News Hour and more. He has worked with major technology CEOs and briefed Heads of State and other political leaders. He is the co-host of the podcast, “Your Undivided Attention.”

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Aza Raskin

Co-Founder & Program Advisor

Trained as a mathematician and dark matter physicist, Aza is also the co-founder of Earth Species Project, an open-source collaborative nonprofit dedicated to decoding animal communication. He has taken three companies from founding to acquisition, is a co-chairing member of the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Counsel, helped found Mozilla Labs, was named FastCompany’s Master of Design, and listed on Forbes and Inc Magazines 30-under-30.

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Randima (Randy) Fernando

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Randy combines expertise in tech, social impact, and mindfulness. He led many award-winning projects and authored 3 books on 3D graphics over 7 years at NVIDIA. He then served as Executive Director of Mindful Schools, a nonprofit that has taught mindfulness to millions of kids and over 30,000 educators worldwide. Randy also serves on the board of Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

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Rebecca Lendl

Chief Operating Officer

Over the last 20 years, Rebecca has spent her career supporting visionary artists and thinkers in reimagining how we think, connect, and live. Rebecca has worked with New York arts organizations Creative Time and MoMA PS1 on large-scale experimental public art and events; More recently, she helped grow the community at Headlands Center for the Arts, an international contemporary arts center in the Marin Headlands, and supported the open web at Creative Commons. With a passion for building things, Rebecca has raised millions of dollars for social change, bringing together people, ideas, and shared purpose to advance new ways of thinking.

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Program Team

Amy Benziger

Head of Advocacy & Impact

Most recently, Amy served as the Head of Projects for Cisco's Innovation Lab focusing on engaging Fortune 500s on the future of work. Prior to that, she ran global impact campaigns as the Head of Corporate and Civic Partnerships for UNICEF's Refugees Welcome Lab, as well as the Managing Director of Lovesocial, a social impact agency. She began her work as the Director of Content for the Social Capital Markets Conference growing the community from the ground up to 3000 attendees from 60 countries each year. Amy is a proud supporter of and Board Member for NPR's Generation Listen, the International Crisis Group and 1951 Coffee. At CHT she’ll be driving the reach of the organization through strategic communications, innovative partnerships and community mobilization.

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Max Stossel

Education Advisor

Max has spent years speaking with thousands of students, parents, and educators around the world about how smartphones and social media are impacting student and family life. He spent the beginning of his career with ad agencies like Anomaly and Vaynermedia, helping multinational brands thrive on social, and later worked for a social media platform where he designed some of the same systems to grab and hold human attention that he now criticizes. Along with his work at CHT, Max is an award winning artist named by Forbes as one of the best storytellers of the year. He provides a unique and much needed perspective on the role of technology in young people's lives and in our society.

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David Jay

Head of Mobilization

David has spent 20 years at the intersection of technology and movement building, with a focus on creating change by enabling meaningful human connections. David is the founder of Asexuality.org, the world’s first community of people identifying as asexual, and regularly advises social movement leaders and startups on creating safe spaces online. As a technical or product lead he has worked for Samsung Next, Mozilla’s Coral Project, and several mission-driven startups.

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Adam Yukelson

Head of Global Challenges

Adam brings 15 years’ experience in designing and leading multi-stakeholder change processes. Along with Otto Scharmer, he was the lead designer and facilitator for the MITx course u.lab: Leading From the Emerging Future, which reached over 130,000 people from 185 countries and helped catalyze a worldwide network of social change initiatives.

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Elizabeth Renieris

Head of Policy

Elizabeth has spent more than a decade focused on engineering law and policy solutions for cutting-edge and emerging technologies. She is the founder of HACKYLAWYER, a Technology & Human Rights Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, and a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. Elizabeth is a recognized expert on cross-border law and policy issues related to privacy and data protection, digital identity, blockchain, and artificial intelligence, and has advised multinational organizations, governments, and startups alike on these issues. Fluent in multiple languages and having lived and worked in six countries on three continents, she believes in a humane future for technology premised on our interconnectedness and shared sense of humanity.

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Operations Team

Rumana Ahmed

Project Manager

Rumana has spent years focused on mobilizing, elevating and advocating for impacted and marginalized communities to inform policy-making, communications, engagements and inclusive representation across domestic and global policy issue areas. Rumana served in the White House for almost six years in the Office of Public Engagement and as a senior advisor in the National Security Council’s Office of Global Engagement and Strategic Communications. She has worked on issues including health and education accessibility, gun violence prevention, protection of persecuted religious minorities, women and youth-owned global entrepreneurship, discrimination and bias in national security policies and global public diplomacy. Rumana is a consultant, commentator, public speaker and published co-author of West Wingers, and author in The Atlantic for a globally engaged 2017 article. She is passionate about the intersectionality of technology policy as it relates to anti-bullying and anti-discrimination content, protecting democracy and combating violence.

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Brooke Clinton

Operations Manager

With a background in fundraising and community relations, Brooke works to authentically connect people to mission-driven organizations. Her work at CHT is primarily focused on building operational functions that foster organizational advancement. Brooke has worked for arts and education organizations such as Headlands Center for the Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, and The College Preparatory School.

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Abby Hall

Chief of Staff

Abby Hall has dedicated her career to public service that improves people’s lives. Her work managing public and press events for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration helped develop relationships among CEOs, community leaders, press, and world leaders. Abby’s specialty is strategic planning, scheduling, event management, team building, and fundraising in values-based connection.

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Board of Directors

Jane Chen

CEO & Co-Founder
Embrace Innovations

Tristan Harris

Co-Founder & President
Center for Humane Technology

Ben Rattray

Founder & CEO
Change.org

Premal Shah

Co-Founder
Kiva.org

Peter Wang

CEO
Anaconda, Inc.

Funders

Founding Allies, Key Advisors & Community

Dr. Guillaume Chaslot

Dr. Guillaume Chaslot
Founder, AlgoTransparency.org

Renée DiResta

Founding Advisor
Director of Research at New Knowledge, Head of Policy at Data for Democracy

Joe Edelman

Co-Founder, Time Well Spent
Philosopher Sociologist Ex-CTO, CouchSurfing

Yaël Eisenstat

CHT Policy Advisor
Visiting Fellow, Cornell Tech

Lynn Fox

Founding Advisor
Principal, Fox Communications

Tom Gruber

Co-Founder
Siri

Chris Hughes

Author, Fair Shot
Co-Founder, Facebook

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn

Founder
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Dr. Robert Lustig

Professor Emeritus
UCSF

Roger McNamee

Founding Advisor
Co-Founder of Elevation Partners, Silver Lake Partners, and Integral Capital Partners

Cathy O’Neil

Mathematician
Author, Weapons of Math Destruction

Sandy Parakilas

Ex-Facebook
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Privacy, Apple

Hong Qu

Researcher, Harvard
YouTube’s First Designer

Justin Rosenstein

Co-Founder of Asana
Co-Invented Facebook ‘Like’ Button

Marietje Schaake

European Parliament Representative
The Netherlands

Dr. Natasha Schüll

Professor, NYU
Author, Addiction by Design

Evan Sharp

Co-Founder & COO
Pinterest

K. Krasnow Waterman

Visiting Scientist
MIT

James Williams

Co-Founder, Time Well Spent
Ex-Google, Philosopher at Oxford Internet Institute

Tim Wu

Professor, Columbia Law School
Author, The Attention Merchants

John Zimmer

Co-Founder & President
Lyft

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