Apple, NeXT veteran Joanna Hoffman calls today's technology leaders 'remarkably ignorant'

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in General Discussion
Former Apple, NeXT, and General Magic marketer says Facebook is "peddling in an addictive drug called anger," and many modern tech firms are "flawed," or "devious."

Apple, NeXT, and General Magic veteran Joanna Hoffman is concerned about the ignorance or deviousness of current technology leaders
Apple, NeXT, and General Magic veteran Joanna Hoffman. (Source: YouTube.


Joanna Hoffman was a key figure at the start of three of the most significant companies of the entire technology industry, starting with Apple and the Macintosh in 1980, and then moving on to both General Magic, and NeXT. Compared to those firms, she says that today's technology companies are responsible for the harm social media has caused.

"As I look at Facebook, for example, I keep thinking are they really that ignorant is this motivated by something... darker than it what appears?" she said at 2020 CogX, where, according to CNBC she appeared alongside former General Magic colleagues.

She said that she does have "enormous respect" for what Facebook has achieved overall. However, certain elements of its work are "destroying the very fabric of democracy, destroying the very fabric of human relationships, and peddling in an addictive drug called anger."

"You know it's just like tobacco, it's no different than the opioids," she continued. "We know anger is addictive, we know we can attract people to our platform and get engagement if we get them p****d off enough. So therefore what, we should capitalize on that each and every time?"

Asked about the culture of big technology firms and how they are led, Hoffman says that, "individuals make a huge difference." Without a strong individual leader, as she worked with in Steve Jobs at Apple and NeXT, and Marc Porat at General Magic, "then nothing productive results in the end."

She says many of today's technology leaders are "genius in what they've accomplished and what they have done at a very young age [but] remarkably ignorant on what they are sowing in the world." They're also flawed, she argues, adding "The question is, how flawed, how ignorant, and how devious?"

Hoffman features heavily in the General Magic documentary, and in Aaron Sorkin's "Steve Jobs" drama, where she was portrayed by Kate Winslet.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,758member
    The companies she worked for sold things.
    The companies she is talking about sell us. Our eyeballs. Our attention.
    Nothing gathers a crowd as well as a train wreck.
    So FB et.al. are allowing train wrecks to flow freely to earn more money, though hiding behind the fig leaf of free speech.
    In reality the "something...darker" is called greed.
    rotateleftbytebrian greenmacplusplusrazorpitleavingthebiggcornchipdysamoriaviclauyycjony0Ofer
  • Reply 2 of 37
    jrcjrc Posts: 817member
    I have never stepped a toe into facebook/linkedin, snapchat, instagram.... and on and on... just for these and other various reasons. Move your lives towards being a responsible, mature, kind individual; and productive enough to support yourself and where possible those you love.
    cat52brian greenrotateleftbyteviclauyycjony0thtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 37
    cat52cat52 Posts: 124member
    Hoffman is stating the obvious, but all the same major props for bringing some attention to the issue.

    Anger is indeed addictive, and the social media companies will ride that all the way to the bank, every time.  And I don't have the sense they particularly care what they leave behind, so long as their stocks move in the right direction.

    It's their prerogative I guess, but all the same I wouldn't want them as neighbors.
    edited June 2020 brian greenGeorgeBMacjony0Oferthtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 37
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,457member
    It is not ONLY social media peddling fear and anger to advance their cause and self interest....

    While FB & others have learned to profit from it, thugs (both paid and radicalized fools) patrol it looking to attack anything and anybody who does not toe the line they set.   

    We learned from Cambridge Analytica and the Internet Research Agency how social media can be used by professional propagandists to support and propagate a political agenda.  And, since then, the political propagandists have become even more proficient at using it to manipulate public opinion.  They are at war and use multiple fronts and means on social media to advance their agenda.  FB and Social media are now just one of those fronts.

    Meanwhile, the founder of FB says he can't stand what FB has become -- but will do nothing to rein it in.  He knows if he does, he will be attacked -- on FB.
    JWSCrotateleftbyteviclauyycjony0Ofermuthuk_vanalingamols
  • Reply 5 of 37
    fahlmanfahlman Posts: 730member
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.
    edited June 2020 JWSCcornchiprazorpitdocno42
  • Reply 6 of 37
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 268member
    fahlman said:
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.

    I get what you're saying in that Facebook shouldn't be the one censoring things.

    I think the real problem is that we, as humans, are inexplicably drawn to pain and anger, and Facebook's algorithms magnify that tendency in unhealthy ways. I suspect that Facebook tried to find a way to rein it in or refocus it, but could not, so they gave up. The fact is that as long as Facebook tries to "surface" things that interest people, it will "surface" divisive, angry topics. Because that's what draws people in. People crave being right and getting upset at all the wrong people.
    razorpitOfertht
  • Reply 7 of 37
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    It is not ONLY social media peddling fear and anger to advance their cause and self interest....

    While FB & others have learned to profit from it, thugs (both paid and radicalized fools) patrol it looking to attack anything and anybody who does not toe the line they set.   

    We learned from Cambridge Analytica and the Internet Research Agency how social media can be used by professional propagandists to support and propagate a political agenda.  And, since then, the political propagandists have become even more proficient at using it to manipulate public opinion.  They are at war and use multiple fronts and means on social media to advance their agenda.  FB and Social media are now just one of those fronts.

    Meanwhile, the founder of FB says he can't stand what FB has become -- but will do nothing to rein it in.  He knows if he does, he will be attacked -- on FB.
    Haven’t spent much time on FB lately, but if they are allowing all discussion than that’s a good thing. What you consider news I might consider propaganda and vice-versa. Twitter flat out shuts you down if you don’t agree with their editorial view. Their definition of what’s allowable and what isn’t is a joke.

    My mind is always open to new information. It might be right, it might be wrong. It’s up to me to process the information given to me based upon everything that preceded it. Problem today is everybody wants the headline without the story or facts to back it up. Very few are capable of putting any context in to events that happened yesterday let alone 150 years ago.
    cat52viclauyycdocno42
  • Reply 8 of 37
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,457member
    razorpit said:
    It is not ONLY social media peddling fear and anger to advance their cause and self interest....

    While FB & others have learned to profit from it, thugs (both paid and radicalized fools) patrol it looking to attack anything and anybody who does not toe the line they set.   

    We learned from Cambridge Analytica and the Internet Research Agency how social media can be used by professional propagandists to support and propagate a political agenda.  And, since then, the political propagandists have become even more proficient at using it to manipulate public opinion.  They are at war and use multiple fronts and means on social media to advance their agenda.  FB and Social media are now just one of those fronts.

    Meanwhile, the founder of FB says he can't stand what FB has become -- but will do nothing to rein it in.  He knows if he does, he will be attacked -- on FB.
    Haven’t spent much time on FB lately, but if they are allowing all discussion than that’s a good thing. What you consider news I might consider propaganda and vice-versa. Twitter flat out shuts you down if you don’t agree with their editorial view. Their definition of what’s allowable and what isn’t is a joke.

    My mind is always open to new information. It might be right, it might be wrong. It’s up to me to process the information given to me based upon everything that preceded it. Problem today is everybody wants the headline without the story or facts to back it up. Very few are capable of putting any context in to events that happened yesterday let alone 150 years ago.

    You are conflating reporting with propaganda and facts with "alternative facts" to the point where truth no longer matters.

    We learned in 2016 how that can be used by professional propagandists to effectively undermine our elections and democracy.  And, with social media they can target that propaganda with pinpoint accuracy to stir doubt, confusion, suspicion, fear, hatred and anger in groups and sub-groups:  "White, working class males concerned about....".
    ... Our enemies attacked our country with it once.   We know they are doing it again this election.  Supporting them is supporting an attack on our country and our democracy.

    There are some naive innocents who believe it is just innocuous sharing of opinions.
    There are some radicalized nuts who use it to further their agendas
    ... They both call it:   "Just sharing opinions" and other means of normalizing and minimizing it.
    edited June 2020 dysamoriaviclauyycOferjony0muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 37
    fahlman said:
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.
    Thank you for demonstrating a Strawman Fallacy. She didn't suggest censorship nor did she say she should be the person to pass judgment, you completely made that up. 
  • Reply 10 of 37
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    razorpit said:
    It is not ONLY social media peddling fear and anger to advance their cause and self interest....

    While FB & others have learned to profit from it, thugs (both paid and radicalized fools) patrol it looking to attack anything and anybody who does not toe the line they set.   

    We learned from Cambridge Analytica and the Internet Research Agency how social media can be used by professional propagandists to support and propagate a political agenda.  And, since then, the political propagandists have become even more proficient at using it to manipulate public opinion.  They are at war and use multiple fronts and means on social media to advance their agenda.  FB and Social media are now just one of those fronts.

    Meanwhile, the founder of FB says he can't stand what FB has become -- but will do nothing to rein it in.  He knows if he does, he will be attacked -- on FB.
    Haven’t spent much time on FB lately, but if they are allowing all discussion than that’s a good thing. What you consider news I might consider propaganda and vice-versa. Twitter flat out shuts you down if you don’t agree with their editorial view. Their definition of what’s allowable and what isn’t is a joke.

    My mind is always open to new information. It might be right, it might be wrong. It’s up to me to process the information given to me based upon everything that preceded it. Problem today is everybody wants the headline without the story or facts to back it up. Very few are capable of putting any context in to events that happened yesterday let alone 150 years ago.

    You are conflating reporting with propaganda and facts with "alternative facts" to the point where truth no longer matters.

    We learned in 2016 how that can be used by professional propagandists to effectively undermine our elections and democracy.  And, with social media they can target that propaganda with pinpoint accuracy to stir doubt, confusion, suspicion, fear, hatred and anger in groups and sub-groups:  "White, working class males concerned about....".
    ... Our enemies attacked our country with it once.   We know they are doing it again this election.  Supporting them is supporting an attack on our country and our democracy.

    There are some naive innocents who believe it is just innocuous sharing of opinions.
    There are some radicalized nuts who use it to further their agendas
    ... They both call it:   "Just sharing opinions" and other means of normalizing and minimizing it.
    Exactly. You have “facts” that propaganda changed the election results. Because I don’t believe you and ask you what those facts are specifically, my questions instantly become “alternative facts”, even though I’m not providing any facts, I’m just asking a question.

    If I’m really lucky you send me a link to an article that is just as obtuse as “your facts” and includes catch phrases as “some sources say”, or “trusted informants report”, or “those that wish to remain anonymous”. Much like the last 3 years we wasted on report after reported that was later found to be false without those “sources” ever called in to question.

    It’s at this point the thinking public says there is no there there and moves on. Thanks for proving my point.
    cat52gatorguy
  • Reply 11 of 37
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,654member
    fahlman said:
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.
    What is corporate censorship? What did she suggest, specifically?

    As for FB and Twitter, as long as remain full of Russian bots intentionally spreading lies in order to divide their target (America), no, you are not in control. Hate to break it to ya, bub. Plenty of lies will be spread, and plenty of people won't even know it. 
    tmayOfermuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 37
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    DAalseth said:
    The companies she worked for sold things.
    The companies she is talking about sell us. Our eyeballs. Our attention.
    Nothing gathers a crowd as well as a train wreck.
    So FB et.al. are allowing train wrecks to flow freely to earn more money, though hiding behind the fig leaf of free speech.
    In reality the "something...darker" is called greed.
    I don’t buy the “greed” argument. Everyone (yes, every human being who has ever existed) is self-interested. In our capitalistic system this individual self-interest is counterbalanced by the forces of competition in functioning markets. When markets aren’t functioning properly (typically because of overregulation or political interference) then that balance is upset.
    razorpitwatto_cobradocno42
  • Reply 13 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,820member
    The competitive counterbalance may work for manufactured goods, but how does it work in the race for eyeballs cess pit of social networks?  The winner is the one that plays to biases, that feeds the masses the junk news that they crave, and because few care about facts that boils down to emotive bashing of the other side.  And that's perpetuates the downward spiral.

    Free speech without compassion and accountability is just a shouting match.
    dysamoriatmayOferbeeble42cat52GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 37
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,022member
    fahlman said:
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.
    What is corporate censorship? What did she suggest, specifically?

    As for FB and Twitter, as long as remain full of Russian bots intentionally spreading lies in order to divide their target (America), no, you are not in control. Hate to break it to ya, bub. Plenty of lies will be spread, and plenty of people won't even know it. 
    The whole bots on Twitter meme is out of control.  Some user’s favorite way to put down an opinion they disagree with it to accuse the poster of being a bot.  I wonder just how many really are out there versus the hype.  Is Jack Dorsey really so incompetent that he cannot determine ways to screen new accounts properly?
    razorpitcat52
  • Reply 15 of 37
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 843member
    fahlman said:
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.
    The real problem is that the algorithms Facebook and other social media companies use to promote content for engagement get their best results by targeting anger or other emotions that get people to read and scroll more.

    It also helps promote the echo chamber effect where you only see the one point of view the algorithm thinks you are comfortable with - no matter if it is based on lies or misinformation.
    Ofercat52watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 37
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,875member
    The "problem" with Facebook and social media in general is that it exposes the duality of the human condition and all of its glory and gory details. Like all media it does tend to disproportionately amplify the negative because that's what tends to draw our attention and incite the most long lasting emotional reaction due to our inbred quest for survival. So the real problem is not really with Facebook, it is with us. We've been given a tool, just like any other tool, say a hammer, but due to human nature some folks have decided to turn the tool into a weapon with which to bludgeon their fellow humans.

    While establishing standards for what is allowed on Facebook will not fix the underlying human condition, it may actually help to avoid the normalization of deviant influences that can quickly escalate out of control. Living in a society always involves deliberate compromises and safeguards to keep the peace and maintain what is actually an ongoing social experiment intact for the foreseeable future. There are no perfect answers, but we should always error on the side of safety, humanity, and compassion for this ongoing experiment that we are all a part of, unless of course you want to completely unplug from society and move into an isolated cabin in the woods to work on your private manifesto. 

    So the question comes down to who gets to set the standards that Facebook and others should follow to help us maintain peace and harmony? Should we allow the company itself, a company whose existence is benefited by the fruits of our society, to set the standards or should some other entity make the calls? I personally believe that as stakeholders in the outcome, we should be the ones setting the standards in much the same way that we don't allow gun manufacturers to establish gun related laws. We should set the rules based on the values and benefits that we want these tools to provide for our society. The first amendment does not mean you can cry "fire" in a crowded room any more than the second amendment allows you to indiscriminately shoot a gun anywhere and at any time. Maintaining social order rises about philosophical purity, because as imperfect creatures we aren't equipped physically or mentally to traverse our lives in harmony with billions of others without having some guardrails in place to keep us from falling, or getting pushed, into a bad place. Pragmatism isn't perfection, but it's far more attainable.
    dysamoriaOferbeeble42dws-2muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 37
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    fahlman said:
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.
    1. Censorship happens all the time. Look at the article itself. The word “pissed” is censored. Anyone complaining about that? I think that’s infantilizing the audience, personally. It’s AI’s right to censor whatever they want, though, because freedom of speech is irrelevant unless we are talking about speech being oppressed by government.

    2. Joanna Hoffman said nothing about wanting to be the party passing judgement over what anyone says. Perhaps you’re projecting a preoccupation with authoritarianism, because it’s not present in the article.

    3. Most people are not equipped with enough critical thinking skills (nor time, or experience doing research for quality info) to “separate the wheat from the chaff” as you put it. We need far better average education for starters. While we are failing to enact those standards, we need a stopgap for regulating garbage info, and, more specifically, compelling companies to not use it as bait to sell advertising spots.

    The whole reason regulation exists is because of cause & effect: abuse happens, and then society deems it important enough to instill regulation to protect itself from more of said abuse. Child labor laws aren’t authoritarianism. Banning the use of myths and lies as bait for advertising is a reasonable response to the harm it does. (HOW to ban it isn’t something I’m going to attempt to investigate here)

    You cannot run a society on the notion of zero compulsion until you have created a society of rational and logical beings... and that’s nowhere near to even being on the horizon.

    4. “The slippery slope” is a logical fallacy used to push FUD, not logical reasoning. Try a different approach.
    Oferdewmecat52muthuk_vanalingamGeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 37
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,430member
    crowley said:
    The competitive counterbalance may work for manufactured goods, but how does it work in the race for eyeballs cess pit of social networks?  The winner is the one that plays to biases, that feeds the masses the junk news that they crave, and because few care about facts that boils down to emotive bashing of the other side.  And that's perpetuates the downward spiral.

    Free speech without compassion and accountability is just a shouting match.
    100%

    Free speech without compassion and accountability is also simply irresponsible and harmful. The notion of “a marketplace for ideas” fails entirely when it’s used to defend topics (or worse, provide them a platform) that have no place in civilization (such as notions that dehumanize people based on arbitrary traits; naziism has no place in civilization).
    Oferdewmejony0GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 37
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,343member
    My feelings about social media are similar to my feelings about religion: both have the capacity to be used for great things, and for terrible things.  They're a reflection of our values and it's really up to us to decide which direction they go.  We can either be inspired to organize and help each other, or be inspired to go on holy crusades and pass judgement on each other.

    dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 37
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    dysamoria said:
    fahlman said:
    Facebook is a medium to express oneself. If that expression is anger, it is not Facebook's fault. What she is suggesting is corporate censorship. She wants to pass final judgement over what someone says based on whether she agrees with it. Heck, I do not agree with a lot of stuff I read on Facebook. It is trash. But I am smart enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. It's a slippery slope. Not one I am willing to jump on.
    1. Censorship happens all the time. Look at the article itself. The word “pissed” is censored. Anyone complaining about that? I think that’s infantilizing the audience, personally. It’s AI’s right to censor whatever they want, though, because freedom of speech is irrelevant unless we are talking about speech being oppressed by government.

    2. Joanna Hoffman said nothing about wanting to be the party passing judgement over what anyone says. Perhaps you’re projecting a preoccupation with authoritarianism, because it’s not present in the article.

    3. Most people are not equipped with enough critical thinking skills (nor time, or experience doing research for quality info) to “separate the wheat from the chaff” as you put it. We need far better average education for starters. While we are failing to enact those standards, we need a stopgap for regulating garbage info, and, more specifically, compelling companies to not use it as bait to sell advertising spots.

    The whole reason regulation exists is because of cause & effect: abuse happens, and then society deems it important enough to instill regulation to protect itself from more of said abuse. Child labor laws aren’t authoritarianism. Banning the use of myths and lies as bait for advertising is a reasonable response to the harm it does. (HOW to ban it isn’t something I’m going to attempt to investigate here)

    You cannot run a society on the notion of zero compulsion until you have created a society of rational and logical beings... and that’s nowhere near to even being on the horizon.

    4. “The slippery slope” is a logical fallacy used to push FUD, not logical reasoning. Try a different approach.
    Can I add “treating the word discrimination” as a bad thing to your list? I think it piggybacks on your 3rd point.

    Today we’re taught that we cannot not discriminate against anything. No matter how far out there something is we have to accept everyone’s truths. You can’t have that in a functioning society/culture. By definition a society or culture is a collection of people with some basic common values, beliefs, and structure.
    cat52watto_cobra
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