Tritan Harris grew up in the San francisco Bay Area and liked magic tricks. He studied computer science (Human Computer Interaction) at Stanford in Palo Alto, and completed a 2-year internship at Apple in Cuppertino while studying. He also attended Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab directed by BJ Fogg.
Tristan Harris: Career
In 2007, Tristan Harris dropped out of Stanford and launched his own technology startup Apture. Apture enabled website owners to automatically add dynamic content from major content providers (Wikipedia, Youtube, …) to a web page to enrich the user experience by making complementary information at reach. Tristan Harris sold Apture to Google in 2011, and joined the search engine juggernaut’s offices in Mountain view through this acqui-hire move.
At Google, Tristan Harris was part of the design team of the Inbox by Google, a beta product aiming to improve email productivity and organization. He is credited for initiating a movement to focus Google’s products on an equilibrium with its users rather than manipulate their neuronal system to optimize usage. In 2013, he became Google’s Design Ethicist & Product Philosopher. In 2014, Tristan Harris joined the investment firm ProductBio as an angel investor and avisor.
Tristan Harris left Google in 2016 to focus on non-profit efforts, first with the non-profit Time Well-Spent, which lobbies for a reform in digital design globally (embraced by facebook, Google and Apple). In 2018, Tristan Harris co-founded The Center for Humane Technology, an alliance of technology leaders to fic the “digital attention crisis”.
Tristan Harris: Distinctions
• 2009 : Inc.’s 30 Under 30
• 2017 : “25 People Shaping the Future in Tech, Science, Medicine, Activism and More” by Rolling Stones
• 2018 : Fortune’s 40 under 40
Tristan Harris: Other facts
Tristan Harris was tagged the “closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience” by the magazine The Atlantic. In 2019, he launched the podcast that he co-hosts with Aza Raskin, Your undivided Attention.
According to Tristan Harris, “tech is downgrading Humans”. According to Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, “Tristan Harris is probably the strongest voice in technology pointing where the industry needs to go”.