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Ness Labs: Make the most of your mind
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A Summary of

How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind - from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist

by
Tristan Harris
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Product designers exploit psychological weaknesses to grab our attention and influence our decisions

  • Tech companies should be responsible for protecting people’s time and other digital rights. 

Methods of hijacking minds of consumers:

  • Menus give the illusion of free choice, but they indirectly manipulate perceptions
  • Apps act like slot machines, providing intermittent variable rewards that are addictive
    • Swiping left or right on Tinder as a slot machine to see if you get a match
  • Sites induce a fear of missing something important, preventing you from unsubscribing or deleting
    • The fear is unbounded: let go of it and live moment to moment
  • Social media sites control our social approval by manipulating tags and news feed rankings
    • Teens are the most vulnerable demographic
  • Tech companies increase our social reciprocity, generating more traffic and time spent online
    • LinkedIn exploits unconscious impulses and suggests list of people to connect
  • Websites like YouTube, Netflix, and Facebook utilize autoplay to keep feeding consumers and increase time spent
  • Sites heighten the feeling of urgency and social reciprocity by introducing immediacy
    • Facebook tells the sender that you “saw” the message, but Apple has the option of read receipts
  • Bundling company and consumer needs to maximize consumption time
    • Facebook’s landing page is the news feed
  • Businesses purposefully make the choices they don’t want you to make harder
    • NYTimes requires you to call a limited availability phone number to unsubscribe
  • Apps exploit our inability to predict the consequences of a click
    • “Estimated reading time” on top of an article clarifies a choice’s costs and benefits
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