aza-raskin-first-contact
Unintended Consequences

Are Our Screens ‘Blue Lighting’ Us?

Aza Raskin from the Center of Human Technology speaks with Laurie Segall on the First Contact podcast about a new era of empathetic mediums and how they could be used to attack human connections.

Read an edited transcript below, or listen to the full interview on the First Contact podcast.

Technology is blue lighting us in all sorts of ways. And the solution is we have to look at ourselves as human beings in a mirror and say, “How do we work?”


Aza Raskin: …The tools of design are getting stronger and stronger. The tools of technology and its ability to cognitively dominate us and emotionally dominate us is growing and growing. And here’s…a really good analogy… We design screens that shine blue light straight into the human eye, and that has a real effect…

It messes with your sleeping, it messes with your melatonin. There’s some new studies that talk about cancer cleanup… Anyway, it  just has a lot of effects and it’s not like when you shine a blue light into your eyes late at night you just stop sleeping, but it starts to affect your quality of sleep and something just feels off, which to me is a perfect sort of metaphor. Like in what ways are we blue lighting ourselves and is our technology blue lighting us?

Because we all feel that our relationships are not quite right. We feel more easily disconnected and lonely. We get stuck scrolling for long periods of time. The world feels much more polarized than it ever did before. And technology is blue lighting us in all sorts of ways. And the solution is we have to look at ourselves as human beings in a mirror and say, “How do we work?”

Where are our vulnerabilities? In what way is technology, with all of its fancy A/B testing and AI recommendation engines, in what ways is it finding the soft animal underbellies of our minds and exploiting them?