The design thinker Tristan Harris states that tech companies compete, for one thing, the attention of people daily. Recently, Harris shared his thoughts on TED on how these companies prey on the human psychology to make a profit. He helps the technology industry to consciously and ethically shape the spirit and human potential.
According to Harris, tech companies are driven by a hidden goal and that is the attention of humans and the best way to get this attention is to learn how a person’s mind works. There are numerous techniques that companies use to study the human minds. For instance, YouTube wants to maximize the time you spend on their site hence they will always autoplay the next video to get more time from you.
Another example is the Snapchat, which is the number one platform for teenagers in the US and beyond. They have a feature that shows the number of days in a row that two people have communicated with each other. What they do is to give the two people bonus time to talk and as teenagers, no one wants to lose the free time. It’s revealed that when these young people are out of reach they give passwords to their friends to continue with Snapstreaks.
People are never aware of the hundred engineers working behind the screen playing with their psychology of the mind. Also, Facebook employs various ways to get the attention of its users. The newsfeed can display outrage or calm posts to maximize your attention. Harris stated that the technology is becoming an urgent problem that needs to be tackled.
The way our attention is sought after is affecting the lives of everyone. It’s drastically changing our conversations and democracy. It’s also changing our ability to communicate and maintain our relationships with others. It’s affecting everyone across the globe since everyone is forced to have a phone in their pockets.
As a result, Tristan Harris suggests various radical changes to technology approaches that are needed in today’s world. People need to see themselves fundamentally in a new way and stop being controlled by tech people. Also, people need new models and accountability systems so that people in control rooms become transparent in what we want.