Smartphones Are Weapons of Mass Manipulation

A product manager turned design ethicist at Google now opposes it

Oct 21, 2017
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“It’s so invisible what we’re doing to ourselves,” Tristan Harris says. “It’s like a public health crisis. It’s like cigarettes, except because we’re given so many benefits, people can’t actually see and admit the erosion of human thought that’s occurring at the same time.”

“The question is, once you start to monopolize what people are thinking about, is that actually good for society? What is that vulnerable to? Where could that go wrong?” he asked.

Edward Bernays, author of the classic study Propaganda states the obvious answer:

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, and our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”

That is not Harris’s conclusion.  Then again, Harris is marketing a product.  The reality is more alarming than he suggests.  My comment is here.

Watch Tristan Harris’s TED Talks video here

Read the full article on Tristan Harris in Technology Review

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