Design the Future
January 19–20, 2016: Training
January 20–22, 2016: Conference
San Francisco, CA

Design’s responsibility: Time well spent

Tristan Harris (Google)
3:45pm Thursday, 01/21/2016
Design for a greater good
Location: Festival Pavilion - Main Stage
Average rating: ****.
(4.75, 20 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

Participants should have a general understanding of basic design, choice architectures, psychology, behavioral science, and behavioral economics.


What if technology could distract us less and respect our time and attention more? What would that world look like, and how could it be built? What if we could design to make our Darwinian instincts work for us instead of against us? Inspired by the human potential movement of the 1960s, Tristan Harris opens a conversation about a new kind of design ethics that puts meaningful choices and human potential first.

Tristan will cover:

  • How the attention economy reduces design to a seduction of powerful psychological instincts beyond the capabilities of “willpower”
  • Metaphors from urban planning and “liveable” cities that can be used to support better marriages between the commercial interests of tech companies and the interests of human society
  • The history of the organic and LEED certification movements and why we need an organic movement for design
  • Design principles and examples for designing for “time well spent”
  • New metrics to support a “time well spent” attention economy
Photo of Tristan Harris

Tristan Harris


Tristan Harris is a design thinker, philosopher, and entrepreneur—most recently focused on design ethics. Tristan was rated #16 in Inc. magazine’s “Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30” of 2009, is a former Mayfield fellow in Stanford’s Technology Venture Program in Entrepreneurship, and graduated with a BS in computer science from Stanford University.

Currently, Tristan is developing a design framework at Google to help product designers facilitate conscious choices for users. Before this, he was cofounder and CEO of Apture, an instant explanation engine that enabled millions of users to get on-the-fly explanations about any topic without leaving their place on the Web. Google acquired Apture in 2011.