Apple CEO Tim Cook urges college grads to 'push back' against algorithms that promote the 'things you already know, believe, or like'


Tim Cook

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the commencement speech at Tulane University on Saturday, during which he encouraged students to listen to others and remain open to seeing the world in a different way.
  • Cook encouraged students to pay attention to “what we owe one another” and touched on the importance of addressing climate change.
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Since being named CEO of Apple in 2011, Tim Cook has made it a point to ensure that Apple leaves its mark on the world in ways that stretch far beyond the company’s business practices. Under his leadership, for example, Apple has boosted its sustainability efforts and now runs on 100% renewable energy.

When addressing graduates at Tulane University on Saturday, Cook encouraged students to similarly tackle big-picture problems and consider “what we owe” to one another.

“In a world where we obsessively document our own lives, most of us don’t pay nearly enough attention to what we owe one another,” Cook said. “It’s about recognizing that human civilization began when we realized that we could do more together.”

Cook stressed the importance of listening to others and being open to seeing the world in a different way. In what could have been a reference to Facebook, which has been under scrutiny in recent years over how it chooses the information displayed in its News Feed, the Apple CEO urged students to open their eyes.

“Today, certain algorithms pull you toward the things you already know, believe, or like, and they push away everything else,” he said. “Push back. It shouldn’t be this way. But in 2019 opening your eyes and seeing things in a new way can be a revolutionary act.”

Facebook has been criticized for being an echo chamber in the past, especially when the company changed its algorithm in 2016 to focus more closely on updates from friends. That lends itself to the argument that Facebook creates a “filter bubble” in which users are only exposed to the content and ideas that align with their own beliefs. 

Apple has notably pursued human curation for its Apple News app.

Cook has been vocal about his stance on the importance of climate change, and he touched on this topic again in his commencement speech, urging graduates to “look for those who have the most to lose” when solving problems.

“When you do that, the political noise dies down and you can feel your feet firmly planted on solid ground,” he said. “After all, we don’t build monuments to trolls, and we’re not going to start now.”

Cook admitted that this is something his generation needs to get better at.

“In some important ways, my generation has failed you in this regard,” he said. “We spend too much time debating. We’ve been too focused on the fight and not focused enough on progress.”

Watch the video of Cook’s full speech below. 


SEE ALSO: Apple CEO Tim Cook explains why you don’t need a college degree to be successful

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