“How do you ethically steer the thoughts and actions of two billion people’s minds every day?”
Called the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience,” by The Atlantic magazine, Tristan Harris spent three years as a Design Ethicist at Google understanding how technology manipulates the evolutionary limits and vulnerabilities of the human mind – especially as it relates to addiction, the spread of conspiracies and misinformation.
Tristan left Google in 2016 to work full-time on a non-profit initiative called Time Well Spent. The initiative aims to catalyze a rapid, coordinated change among technology companies through public advocacy, the development of ethical design standards, design education and policy recommendations to protect minds from nefarious manipulation.
Tristan has spent a decade understanding the invisible influences that hijack human thinking and action. Drawing on literature from addiction, performative magic, cult indoctrination, behavioral economics, he is currently developing a framework for ethical persuasion, especially as it relates to the moral responsibility of technology companies.
His work has been featured on TED, 60 Minutes, HBO RealTime with Bill Maher, PBS NewsHour, The Atlantic, Recode, 1843 Economist Magazine, Wired, NYTimes, Der Spiegel, Rue89 and more. Tristan is a part-time Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School in Government.
Previously, Tristan was CEO of Apture, which Google acquired in 2011. Apture enabled millions of users to get instant, on-the-fly explanations across a vast publisher network.
Tristan holds several patents from his work at Apple, Wikia, Apture and Google. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science, focused on Human Computer Interaction, while dabbling in behavioral economics, social psychology, behavior change and habit formation in Professor BJ Fogg’s Stanford Persuasive Technology lab. He was rated #16 in Inc Magazine’s Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30 in 2009.
Most popular work:
- Read his most popular essay How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds – from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist (15 min read) – in French, Portuguese, Arabic and Mandarin.
- Listen to his most popular interview, “What is Technology Doing to Us?” (1 hour 40 mins) with philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris.
Headshot photos for Press & Speaking Engagements