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Opening speech by Tim Cook at Tulane: "pushing back" the algorithms

Since he's been named CEO of Apple in 2011, Tim Cook has made a point of making sure that Apple leaves its mark on the world in a way that far exceeds the business practices of the company. Under his leadership, for example, Apple has stepped up its sustainability efforts and now uses 100% renewable energy.

In speaking to Tulane University graduates on Saturday, Cook encouraged students to tackle big problems in the same way and ask ourselves what we owe to each other.

"In a world where we obsessively document our own lives, most of us do not pay enough attention to what we owe each other," Cook said. "It's about recognizing that human civilization started when we realized we could do more together."

Cook emphasized 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 scrutinized in recent years over how he chooses the information displayed in his feed, Apple's CEO has urged students to open their eyes.

"Today, some algorithms lead you to things you already know, believe or love, and they push everything else away," he said. "Push back, it should not be so, 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 on the updates of friends. This lends itself to the argument that Facebook creates a "filter bubble" in which users are exposed only to content and ideas that fit their own beliefs.

In particular, Apple has pursued human research for its Apple News application.

Cook clearly articulated his views on the importance of climate change and again addressed this topic in his opening remarks, calling on graduates to "look for those who have the most to lose" to resolve their problems.

"When you do that, the political noise is attenuated and you can feel your feet well rooted," he said. "After all, we do not build monuments for the trolls, and we will not start now."

Cook admitted that his generation needed better.

"In an important way, my generation has let you down in this respect," he said. "We spend too much time debating, we've been too focused on fighting and not enough on progress."

Watch the video of Cook's full speech below.

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