Our minds have been hijacked by phones…

From humans making mobile technology as a slave to mobile technology making humans their slave, the journey has come full circle.

Nice piece on how this process of hijacking our minds is being played over and over again.  It is an interview of Tristan Harris who is trying the rescue act:

OK. How do we reform it?

So the first step is to transform our self-awareness. People often believe that other people can be persuaded, but not me. I’m the smart one. It’s only those other people over there that can’t control their thoughts. So it’s essential to understand that we experience the world through a mind and a meat-suit body operating on evolutionary hardware that’s millions of years of old, and that we’re up against thousands of engineers and the most personalized data on exactly how we work on the other end.

 Do you feel that about yourself? I tried to reach you last weekend about something, but you went into the woods and turned off your phone. Don’t you think you have control?

Sure, if you turn everything off. But when we aren’t offline, we have to see that some of the world’s smartest minds are working to undermine the agency we have over our minds.

So step one is awareness. Awareness that people with very high IQs work at Google, and they want to hijack your mind, whether they’re working on doing that deliberately or not. And we don’t realize that?

Yeah. And I don’t mean to be so obtuse about it. YouTube has a hundred engineers who are trying to get the perfect next video to play automatically. And their techniques are only going to get more and more perfect over time, and we will have to resist the perfect. There’s a whole system that’s much more powerful than us, and it’s only going to get stronger. The first step is just understanding that you don’t really get to choose how you react to things.

And where’s that line? I do choose sometimes to use Instagram because it’s immensely valuable to me; I do choose to go on Twitter because it’s a great source of news. I do go to Facebook to connect with my friends. At what point do I stop making the choice? At what point am I being manipulated? At what point is it Nick and at what point is it the machine?

Well I think that’s the million-dollar question. First of all, let’s also say that it’s not necessarily bad to be hijacked, we might be glad if it was time well spent for us. I’m not against technology. And we’re persuaded to do things all the time. It’s just that the premise in the war for attention is that it’s going to get better and better at steering us toward its goals, not ours. We might enjoy the thing it persuades us to do, which makes us feel like we made the choice ourselves. For example, we forget if the next video loaded and we were happy about the video we watched. But, in fact, we were hijacked in that moment. All those people who are working to give you the next perfect thing on YouTube don’t know that it’s 2 am and you might also want to sleep. They’re not on your team. They’re only on the team of what gets you to spend more time on that service.

 So step one is, we need to transform our self-awareness. What’s two?

Step two is transforming design, so that based on this new understanding of ourselves—of how we’re persuaded and hijacked, etc.—that we would want to do a massive find-and-replace of all the ways that we are hijacked in ways that we don’t want, and to replace them with the timeline of how we would have wanted our lives to go. An example of that is today, you look at your phone and you see a Snapchat notification. And it persuades you to think a bunch of things that you wouldn’t have thought. It causes you to get stressed out about whether or not you’ve kept your streak up. It’s filling up your mind. And by responding to that one streak, you get sucked into something else, and it cascades. Twenty minutes later you’re sucked into a YouTube video. And there goes your day.

What we want to do is block those moments that hijack your mind in ways you regret, and replace them with a different timeline—what you would have wanted to have happened instead. The resource we’re conserving is time. Imagine these timelines stretching out in front of people, and right now we’re being tugged and pulled onto these brand-new timelines that are created by technology. Let’s do a massive find-and-replace from the manipulative timeline to the timeline we would’ve wanted to have happened.

Hmm..

Quite a few people have been telling me how smart phones have made them dumb..

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2 Responses to “Our minds have been hijacked by phones…”

  1. Oleg Komlik Says:

    On this topic, see also: “Sociology of Smartphone”, a very interesting excerpt from Adam Greenfield’s book “Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life”
    https://longreads.com/2017/06/13/a-sociology-of-the-smartphone/

    • Amol Agrawal Says:

      Thanks Oleg for several of these links. I look forward to all the new posts on the EconomicSociology blog. It is just an amazing source for not just economics articles but even opportunities like conferences, post docs and so on. Keep up the good work and inspiring the rest of us!

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