Joe Edelman

I'm a philosopher, game designer, and programmer.

My work finds applications in design methods, product success metrics, market design, recommender systems, AI ethics, social networks, political theory, the foundations of microeconomics, the nature of emotions, etc.

I started an online school, which has a substack and an older medium blog. You can contact me on twitter.

Building a Second Heart / Augmenting Human Souls, 2021 A research demo for a writing interface backed by a database of values.

Social Programming Considered as a Habitat for Groups, 2019 A new way to code up social apps and information systems emerges from studying how people use ordinary speech to set up social roles and obligations.

Tech Products (that Don't Cause Depression and War), 2021 An introduction to the Values-Based Social Design method.

Four Ideas for Better Human Systems, 2016 A summary of some technological applications of my research.

Choicemaking and the Interface, 2014 Theories of choice from economics and philosophy suggest information requirements for good choices. In view of these requirements, we can see why current menus lead toward regrettable and isolating choices.

Values, Preferences, Meaningful Choice, 2022 I present a conception of values as attention policies resulting from constitutive judgements, and use it to build an alternative preference relation, Meaningful Choice, which retains many desirable features of revealed preference.

Making Values Concrete, 2021 Values as constitutive attentional policies.

How to Design Social Systems (Without Causing Depression and War), 2018 A model of human choicemaking in terms of evolving and practicing values, and a design method to go with it.

Nothing to be Done, 2017 Intellectual history of the west, from a designers' standpoint, as a succession of approaches to human systems.

Is Anything Worth Maximizing, 2016 About how metrics affect the structure of organizations and societies, how they change the economy, how we’re doing them wrong, and how we could do them right.

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My philosophy work descends clearly from Amartya Sen, Charles Taylor, David Velleman, and Ruth Chang.

In tech, I was lucky to learn from people like Alan Kay, Terry Winograd, and Bill Verplank at Interval Research, from Casey Fenton at CouchSurfing (where I developed the metrics which guided the company), from Howie Shrobe and Marvin Minksy at MIT. And more recently through conversations with Bret Victor and Rob Ochshorn.

My tactic of running social experiments through games and performance emerged from study with Christian Wolff (partipatory music) and Peter Parnell (playwriting) at Dartmouth, and then various improvisational scores with Nancy Stark Smith, Mike Vargas, Ruth Zaporah, and others. I had the great fortune to work alongside Albert Kong and Catherine Herdlick on the real world games festival Come Out and Play.

Finally, I've benefited from conversations with Tristan Harris, Ellie Hain, Nathan Vanderpool, and Anne Selke.