At Bing we are always looking for ways to do a better job building a product that can help you do more, achieve more, and feel more confident about your outcomes.   As we sit and dream up the next big set of things we can build to help in this quest, something has kept nagging at us.  Namely that too many of the things we see being built today in our industry put the technology first.   All too often people have to learn new terms, new interaction models, and entirely new user experiences just to do something as simple as watch a DVD on their home TV.  Even for me, I was sitting at my desk hunting for another USB drive and I emptied my pockets. Besides my 4 screens, I had 5 phones, 3 laptops, and an old Xbox controller someone left in my office – I am literally a geek surrounded by tech.  But the most meaningful thing to me was the scanned drawing my daughter did on my laptop and it really reminded me of the humanity of the tech should be there in front of us.

As technology becomes more integral to our lives and our participation in society, we thought it would be interesting to go back to basics.  We questioned the design philosophy of things, wondering if rethinking technical product development to be more people-centric could be an idea worth promoting. 

So that’s what we’re doing.  In conjunction with Big Think we are developing the Humanizing Technology series.  It’s designed to do three core things:

1) Engage some of our favorite minds in thinking about how technology can be brought to serve us, rather than the other way around.  Some of my favorite people like Neil deGrasse Tyson, Peter Diamandis, and Jane McGonigal tackle the question of how technology can be more human-centric.

2) Host a “Virtual Expo” featuring companies, academics and technologies that are building things to align with psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, including:

  • Safety and Security
  • Human Relationships
  • Personal Growth

In addition, we have a panel of rockstar judges including Jaron Lanier, Peter Diamandis, and Sonia Arrison who will help decide which of the technologies best exemplify this shift towards a more human-centric technical world.  While we’ve chosen many companies and people who are doing interesting work in each of these areas, but we also invite you to tell us who you think is pioneering the humanization of technology.

3) Enable people to experience these technologies, thinkers, and visionaries first hand at a “Humanities Fair” live in NYC the weekend of June 15-17.

I hope you all can enjoy learning about the innovations that these pioneering institutions are building to turn technology into something that serves us and not the other way around. 

Stefan Weitz

Director, Bing