James Williams

DPhil student

James Williams is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute. His research addresses the philosophy and ethics of attention and persuasion as they relate to technology design.

He is also a co-founder of the ‘Time Well Spent’ campaign (http://timewellspent.io), a project that aims to steer technology design toward having greater respect for users’ attention, goals, and values.

Previously, James worked for over ten years at Google, where he received the Founder’s Award, the company’s highest honor. He is also a frequent speaker, consultant for companies and governments, and commentator on technology issues in the media.

James is also a visiting researcher at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the founder of the OII’s PhilTech seminar series, and Teaching Assistant for the OII’s Internet Technology and Regulation course.

His other interests include virtual/mixed reality systems, gaming, space travel, and the work of James Joyce. His first computer was a TI-99/4A.

James holds a M.S. in Human-Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington and a B.A. in English Literature from Seattle Pacific University.

Research interests

philosophy, ethics, attention, persuasive technology, behavioral economics, games, task and goal management, virtual reality, augmented reality, literature, narrative, human-computer interaction, education, advertising, product design



  • Williams, J. (2016) "Why It's OK to Block Ads" In: Philosophers Take On the World Edmonds, D. (eds.).