Chris Messina

Inventor of the hashtag. Ever-curious product designer and technologist.

Chris Messina

Inventor of the hashtag. Ever-curious product designer and technologist.

The Technology of Better Humans

After 15 years designing technology products in Silicon Valley, I noticed that something essential has been missing. In our race to make the world more logical and programmable — including our social connections — we’ve reduced the rich tapestry of human experience beyond recognition. And given the crisis of unintended consequences that we’re now forced to cope with thanks to the swift rise of social media mixing with legacy human attitudes and behaviors, I’ve come to believe that if we don’t address it now, the artificial intelligences of the future will be far worse for us than today’s primitive social products have proven to be. I propose that we set ourselves upon creating the technology of better humans — that is, of investing in and creating better versions of ourselves. Since it will be us — or our children — who will build the next generation Alexas and Siris, the only way to bring about the future that we deserve and desire is to start now. The good news is, some of us have already started and joining in may be easier than you think.

About

Chris Messina has spent over decade living on the edge of social technology. He has designed products and experiences for Google and Uber, founded startups, and changed the world by giving away many of his creations, including the hashtag. His skillset is broad, anchored in product and user experience design. Most recently, he lead developer experience at Uber and co-founded Molly (YC W’18), a conversational social AI.

Chris has created movements online and off, and acted as catalyst for change in large and small organizations. In 2004, he helped organize the grassroots movement that propelled Mozilla Firefox to its first 100 million downloads. In 2005, he co-organized the first BarCamp and then popularized the unconference event model to over 350 cities around the world. In 2006, he opened the first coworking spaces in San Francisco, giving rise to a global movement. Then in 2007, he brought the idea of the hashtag to the world, changing social media forever and galvanizing social revolutions across the globe. He has spoken at conferences like TEDx, SXSW, Google I/O, and Microsoft’s Future Decoded, and is frequently quoted in media outlets like The New York Times, Business Week, LA Times, Washington Post, and Wired.