Tuesday January 28, 2020
Home Lead Story Technology Ca...

Technology Campaigners Want Firms to Connect People in Positive Ways, Fight ‘Human Downgrading’

YouTube and other companies have said they are cracking down on extremist speech and have removed advertising revenue-sharing from some categories of content

0
//
youtube
FILE - Signage is seen inside the YouTube Space LA offices in Los Angeles, California, Oct. 21, 2015. VOA

Technology firms should do more to connect people in positive ways and steer away from trends that have tended to exploit human weaknesses, ethicists told a meeting of Silicon Valley leaders on Tuesday.

Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin are the co-founders of the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology and the ones who prompted Apple and Google to nudge phone users toward reducing their screen time.

Now they want companies and regulators to focus on reversing what they called “human downgrading,” which they see as at the root of a dozen worsening problems, by reconsidering the design and financial incentives of their systems.

apple, technology, youtube
Technology firms should do more to connect people in positive ways and steer away from trends that have tended to exploit human weaknesses. VOA

Before a hand-picked crowd of about 300 technologists, philanthropists and others concerned with issues such as internet addiction, political polarization, and the spread of misinformation on the web, Harris said Silicon Valley was too focused on making computers surpass human strengths, rather than worrying about how they already exploit human weaknesses.

If that is not reversed, he said, “that could be the end of human agency,” or free will. Problems include the spread of hate speech and conspiracy theories, propelled by financial incentives to keep users engaged alongside the use of powerful artificial intelligence on platforms like Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, Harris said.

YouTube and other companies have said they are cracking down on extremist speech and have removed advertising revenue-sharing from some categories of content.

Active Facebook communities can be a force for good but they also aid the dissemination of false information, the campaigners said. For example, a vocal fringe that oppose vaccines, believing contrary to scientific evidence that they cause autism, has led to an uptick in diseases that were nearly eradicated.

facebook, technology, human downgrading
Facebook said in March it would reduce the distribution of content from groups promoting vaccine hoaxes. Pixabay

Facebook said in March it would reduce the distribution of content from groups promoting vaccine hoaxes. In an interview after his speech, Harris said that what he has called a race to the bottom of the brainstem – manipulation of human instincts and emotions – could be reversed.

ALSO READ: Microsoft Profits Rises by 14 Percent Making its Value Close in Trillion Dollar Mark

For example, he said that Apple and Google could reward app developers who help users, or Facebook could suggest that someone showing signs of depression call a friend who had previously been supportive.

Tech personalities attending included Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, early Facebook funder turned critic Roger McNamee and MoveOn founders Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. Tech money is also backing the Center, including charitable funds started by founders of Hewlett Packard, EBay, and Craigslist. The big companies, Harris said, “can change the incentives.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s How Alexa Will Let You Order Gifts Online

Customers can quickly place an order through this Skill for their special someone by just giving voice commands

0
Alexa
The new Alexa Skill will also give customers suggestions and options to choose from bestselling gifts. Pixabay

India’s largest gifting brand, Ferns N Petals, has become the first such brand to launch Alexa Skill for gift delivery in Asia, the company said on Monday.

The Skill allows customers to order and send flowers or cakes through the voice assistant.

The brand is anticipating that the business generated through this initiative will touch 10 per cent of the overall online business by 2025.

“We are pleased to be the first player in the gifting industry to roll out Alexa Skill to provide our users an easy access and convenient ordering process of the products in flowers and cakes category,” said Pawan Gadia, CEO, online and retail, Ferns N Petals.

The company has developed ‘The Ferns N Petals Alexa Skill’ for easy access on all Alexa-enabled devices.

Customers can quickly place an order through this Skill for their special someone by just giving voice commands.

Alexa
India’s largest gifting brand, Ferns N Petals, has become the first such brand to launch Alexa Skill for gift delivery in Asia. Pixabay

In Phase 1, Alexa Skill will be launched for existing customers who have an account with Ferns N Petals and have a saved address in their profile.

The Skill will also give customers suggestions and options to choose from bestselling gifts.

ALSO READ: Handset Maker POCO To Unveil New Smartphone “POCO X2” on February 4

Customers can simply enable Alexa Skill for FNP and say, “Alexa, open Ferns N Petals” followed by “I’d like to order a cake”, the company said. (IANS)