In his 2020 documentary “The Social Dilemma,” Jeff Orlowski -- previously lauded for chronicling how humanity’s industrial surge is disrupting climate and coral reefs -- built a tough look at how Silicon Valley coders are hacking our minds and civil society. A featured character, Tristan Harris, famously went from being Google’s in-house design ethicist to a TED-talking evangelist for humane technology -- something that remains hard to find.
The film, launched at Sundance in late January 2020, was watched on Netflix in 38 million homes in the first month even as an “infodemic” -- fueled by a polarizing president -- swirled dangerously around the spreading pandemic.
The question now is, what next? Can Silicon Valley live up to pledges of reform? Is human attention simply too easy to hijack?
Join the Earth Institute’s Andy Revkin in a brisk search for online sanity with Orlowski, Harris and Renée DiResta, the technical research director of the Stanford Internet Observatory. DiResta investigates the spread of malign narratives across social networks, and assists policymakers in devising responses to the problem.