The leader of the Time Well Spent movement has a new crusade

Tristan Harris speaking at event in October 2018

Tristan Harris’ first big idea for the tech industry, the Time Well Spent movement, was an outsized success. Today, he unveiled the sequel — a kind of unified theory of how tech platforms are undermining humanity. His idea, which he calls “downgrading,” attempts to explain everything from smartphone addiction to political polarization. Is his diagnosis correct? And, if so, what’s the solution?

First, some relevant context. Six years ago, Harris was a product manager at Google who published a presentation for his fellow employees to read. Observing how often Google services compelled people to check their email and smartphone notifications, Harris called on his fellow employees to build systems that gave people time back. “Change like…

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