The Big Think

March 28, 2015

Come On Back, Now, Ya Hear?

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 2:48 pm

The Prophet of Habit-Forming Technology | MIT Technology Review:

“Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back…

It starts with a trigger, a prod that propels users into a four-step loop. Think of the e-mail notification you get when a friend tags you in a photo on Facebook. The trigger prompts you to take an action—say, to log in to Facebook. That leads to a reward: viewing the photo and reading the comments left by others. In the fourth step, you inject a personal stake by making an investment: say, leaving your own comment in the thread. This pattern, Eyal says, kicks off a cycle that lodges behaviors in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain where automatic behaviors are stored and where, according to neuroscientists, they last a lifetime….

“I’m not an advocate for creating addiction,” he says. “Addiction has a specific definition: it always hurts the user. I talk about the pathways for addiction because the same things that occur in the brain help us do something that can be good.”””

I guess that depends on who gets to define “good”.

March 23, 2015

Liberal Education Indeed

Filed under: Education — jasony @ 9:21 am

Infants in College: “Safe spaces are an expression of the conviction, increasingly prevalent among college students, that their schools should keep them from being ‘bombarded’ by discomfiting or distressing viewpoints. Think of the safe space as the live-action version of the better-known trigger warning, a notice put on top of a syllabus or an assigned reading to alert students to the presence of potentially disturbing material. . . .

the notion that ticklish conversations must be scrubbed clean of controversy has a way of leaking out and spreading. Once you designate some spaces as safe, you imply that the rest are unsafe. It follows that they should be made safer. . . .

while keeping college-level discussions ‘safe’ may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of seeing the world as other people see it. They’ll be unprepared for the social and intellectual headwinds that will hit them as soon as they step off the campuses whose climates they have so carefully controlled. What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from? If they want to change the world, how will they learn to persuade people to join them?

Or, put another way, how will they grow up?”

When this gets written in the New York Times, of all places, you know there’s truly a problem.

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