Our tech+ethics hackathon, sponsored by Therachat, Google, Greylock, SF Design Week, and more.

Stephen Cognetta
May 9, 2018 · 5 min read

Tickets are nearly sold out and available HERE. Join the waitlist if sold out.

Want to join the movement?


In the upcoming century, mental health is one of the biggest challenges our nation faces. A few months ago, we hosted the world’s largest mental health hackathon with the California Institute of Integral Studies, to explore ways we can leverage technology to address these issues.

However, given the recent critical eye toward the tech industry, what are the ways in which technology might be responsible for the very mental health issues we were trying to solve? How does Facebook cause social isolation, or Netflix promote unhealthy binge watching behaviors?

It’s clear that we need to rethink technology. The old motto of “move fast, break things,” isn’t enticing anymore, especially when it comes to users’ mental health. There’s a need to consider the ethical and psychological impact of technology’s impact.

Let’s stop addicting users to our products and spreading false information across our platforms. Let’s stop making products without a consideration for implications on the psychology of our users. Let’s stop developing products that treat humans as aggregate numbers on a dashboard. Let’s stop breaking things.


An Interdisciplinary Effort

There are incredibly talented technologists who realize the growing need to re-understand what it means for a product to be “user friendly.” There are brilliant minds in academia who have studied human psychology and sociology that have important contributions to this discussion. There are all sorts of individuals, including high school students and self described tech-addicts who have first-hand experience with the negative impacts of technology usage. Everyone has an important role in this conversation.

Let’s come together and rethink technology. Hosted in partnership with California Institute of Integral Studies and HackMentalHealth.

Want to join the movement?

The Event

Taking place on June 9, 2018, the Reverse Hackathon will be a full-day event focused on hands-on learning and partnership with the mental health space, including academia, industry, and entrepreneurship. The event will take place at the California Institute of Integral Studies, in the center of SOMA, SF.

Our opening keynote includes Professor David Levy at The Information School, University of Washington in Seattle. Professor Levy recently published his book Mindful Tech: How to Bring Balance to Our Digital Lives.

We are also joined by some of the leading companies and organizations dedicated to improving the state of our technology usage and how it affects users’ mental health:

But, What Happens at a Reverse Hackathon?

Unlike typical hackathons, this one requires no coding at all. We’ll be focusing on design-based solutions to some of these major issues, with the final product of the event a 2–3 minute product change proposal for a major tech industry. Here are some example problem spaces:

  • Dating apps promote self-consciousness, lookism, inauthenticity, and avoidance. How can we use relationship psychology to change Tinder, Bumble, and other apps in ways that avoid these negative thought patterns?
  • Netflix and YouTube encourage users to spend hours on their sites binge watching and getting autoplayed to the next video. How can we restructure these technologies in a way that’s beneficial to both the company and the consumer?
  • Instagram promotes trends like pro-ana and thinspiration, dangerously negative campaigns that promote unhealthy eating habits. How can we leverage ethics and psychology to redesign these infinite photo feeds to prevent the propagation of these trends?

Participants will have a full day to brainstorm, design, and present their ideas to our panel of judges. We’re looking for feasible, impactful ways to rethink tech products using the power of this interdisciplinary dialogue.

Also check out our free acupuncture sessions throughout the day by the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Tickets are nearly sold out and available HERE. Join the waitlist if sold out.

How Do I Join?

This hackathon is open to all disciplines and backgrounds, but we have limited spots available. You can read more at our website, http://www.hackmentalhealth.care, and sign up to participate at our Eventbrite Sign Up Page. Here’s how you can get even more involved:

HackMentalHealth

The intersection of technology and mental health. Want to write a story? Submit at http://bit.ly/2E6oGji

Stephen Cognetta

Written by

Ex-product @Google, Princeton CS. I help PMs get their dream job @ https://www.tryexponent.com. More about me: http://www.stephencognetta.com

HackMentalHealth

The intersection of technology and mental health. Want to write a story? Submit at http://bit.ly/2E6oGji

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