Sean Parker, Facebook’s first President, gave an interesting talk recently, where he reveals the thinking behind the machine.
The problem the Facebookers sought to solve: How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?
The “solution” they ended up inventing: “It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”
The timing of this come clean moment is not great for Facebook. The company is already under intense pressure to step up to the Media Company plate. Naturally, the social media platforms prefer to claim that the content coursing through their pipes is somehow neutral, but that’s utter bullshit when you’re running algorithms to persuade people and incite real-life actions.
In other news from the mind control front…
Mobile Rots Our Brains
News flash! That mobile phone in your pocket is rotting your brain. Hang it up!
Our smartphones enable—and encourage—constant connection to information, entertainment, and each other. They put the world at our fingertips, and rarely leave our sides. Although these devices have immense potential to improve welfare, their persistent presence may come at a cognitive cost. In this research, we test the “brain drain” hypothesis that the mere presence of one’s own smartphone may occupy limited-capacity cognitive resources, thereby leaving fewer resources available for other tasks and undercutting cognitive performance.
Can you imagine a work environment where you drop your mobile at reception and pick it up again on the way out the door? It does sound a tad draconian. But can you come up with a better way to encourage focus from nine to five?
Cakelessness Increases Consciousness
It’s not just mobile phones that distract us. We are a distracted people, and distracted people don’t think clearly.
Daniel Oppenheimer, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, rightly notes that:
Attractive objects draw attention, and it takes mental energy to keep your attention focused when a desirable distractor is nearby. Put a chocolate cake on the table next to a dieter, a pack of cigarettes on the table next to a smoker, or a supermodel in a room with pretty much anybody, and we would expect them to have a bit more trouble on whatever they’re supposed to be doing.
Clearly, the political powers that be in our society who are also mass marketers know a little something about using distractions to their advantage.
We the people are not only fighting for focus, we’re fighting for our freedoms. Meanwhile, POTUS blows up another Tweet storm and talking heads rant and rave.
What Happens When You Look Up From The Screen
Kate Unsworth, CEO of Kovert Designs invited a group of 35 CEOs, entrepreneurs, and others on a trip to Morocco to study their behavior with and without technology. She also brought along five undercover neuroscientists to observe the group.
After three days without technology, people’s posture noticeably changed. They began to adapt to primarily looking forward into people’s eyes, rather than downward into their screens. This opened up the front of their bodies, pushing back their shoulders and realigning the back of their head with the spine.
“A wonderful side effect of this is that people’s general energy opens up,” Unsworth says. “They appear much more approachable when they enter a room.”