5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

One thing we don’t talk about is that—it’ssort of hard to talk about this—our minds have theses kind of back doors. There’s kind of—if you’re human and youwake up and you open your eyes there is a certain set of dimensions to your experiencethat can be manipulated. http://tech

When I was a kid I was a magician, and youlearn all about these limits, that short-term memory is about this long and there’s differentreaction times, and if you ask people certain questions in certain ways you can controlthe answer. And this is just the structure of being human.

To be human means that you are persuadablein every single moment. I mean the thing about magic, as an example,it’s that magic works on everybody, sleight of hand, right? It doesn’t matter what language you speak,it doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, it’s not about what someone knows: it’s abouthow your mind actually works. https://worldgraphics20.com/2020/10/10/how-can-music-technology-change-lives-in-2020/

So knowing this, it turns out that there’sthis whole playbook of persuasive techniques that actually I learned when I was at theStanford Persuasive Technology Lab and that most people in Silicon Valley in the techindustry learned as ways of getting your attention.

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

So one example is: we are all vulnerable tosocial approval. We really care what other people think ofus. So for example, when you upload a new profilephoto of yourself on Facebook, that’s a moment where our mind is very vulnerable to knowing,“what do other people think of my new profile photo?”

And so when we get new likes on our profilephoto, Facebook—knowing this—could actually message me and say, “oh, you have new likeson your profile photo.” And it knows that we’ll be vulnerable to thatmoment because we all really care about when we’re tagged in a photo or when we have anew profile photo. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

And the thing is that they control the dial,the technology companies control the dial for when and how long your profile photo showsup on other people’s newsfeeds, so they can orchestrate it so that other people more oftenend up liking your profile photo over a delayed period of time, for example, so that you endup having to more frequently come back and see what the new likes are.

And the problem is that they don’t do thisbecause they’re evil, they do it because, again, they’re in this race for our attention. And we should also ask, is that necessarilysuch a bad thing if they’re orchestrating it so that other people like my photo? I mean that might feel good to me. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

So we have to have a new conversation about,as these technology companies use these techniques, these vulnerabilities in our minds, when isthat actually aligned and good for us? When is that ethical? When is that honest? When is that fair? And when is that dishonest and unfair? Because they’re actually manipulating ourminds in a way that doesn’t add up to our spending our time well on the screen.

Well, so another vulnerability in our mindis something called a variable schedule reward, and that’s like a slot machine in Las Vegas. It turns out that slot machines make moremoney in the United States than baseball, movies and theme parks combined. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

People become addicted to slot machines, Ithink it’s two to three times faster than any other kind of gambling in a casino. So it’s insane. And why is that? Because it’s very simple: you just pull alever, and sometimes you get a reward and sometimes you don’t. And the more random it is and the more variableit is the more addictive it becomes. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

And the thing is, that that turns our phoneinto a slot machine, because every time we check our phone we’re playing the slot machineto see “what did I get?” Every time that we check our email, we’replaying the slot machine to see, “What did I get? Did I get invited to an interview at Big Thinkor did I just get another newsletter?”

Or if you’re on a dating site like Tindr andwhen you’re swiping, each swipe is: you’re playing the slot machine to see “did I geta match?”, I’m playing the slot machine to see, “did I get a match?” And the problem is that this dynamic, thesevariable schedule rewards or this slot machine mechanic, is so powerful that it’s the bestthing at addicting people and putting you in the zone.

One of the original designers of the Facebooknewsfeed told me that the thing that made the newsfeed work at the very, very, verybeginning back in 2006 was in part a hardware innovation. And I looked at her and I said, “What do youmean?” And she said it was actually the scroll wheelon a mouse, because with the scroll wheel on a mouse your hand never had to leave itsresting position—you just scroll to see the next thing. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

Because before that you had to click on thedown button or move your mouse and drag the arrow down and scroll the page that way. When you don’t, you can take your two fingerson a track pad and do this, or you can just scroll on a scroll wheel—it just means yourhand never has to leave its resting position, and it’s more like a slot machine: you canjust keep swiping and playing just like in Vegas where there’s the button right there.

They actually changed it. In fact, it used to be a lever, and now it’sjust a button in Vegas because they found it’s easier just to get people to see if theyget a match this way. So, how much on our phones, when we use ourtechnology, Instagram is like a slot machine?

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

What’s going to come next on the feeds? Snapchat is a slot machine, each time yousee the red notifications and you don’t know what’s behind it you’re playing the slot machinewhen you click on it to see “what did I get?” And so it’s sprinkled all throughout theseproducts because it’s a very compelling way of getting people’s attention.

I took the advice of every other expertin book out there about managing distraction of focus and I got rid ofall my technology I did a digital detox I got myself a flip phone and I bought myself a word processor off eBay from the 1990s and I thought getting rid ofall the technology would solve the problem. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

but of course it didn’t I sitdown on my desk and I start you know working away on that word processor andrealize oh you know there’s that book I’ve been meaning to read or let me justtidy up my desk real quick or oh the trash should be taken out right now.

I kept getting distracted because I hadn’t learned tactics and techniques tocope with my internal triggers in a healthier manner so what we can do todeal with these internal triggers is to learn strategies to cope with discomfortand there are three main strategies for coping with these internal triggers anddealing with them in a more healthful manner. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

the first is to reimagine thetrigger itself if we can change our perception of that uncomfortableemotional state and explore that sensation with curiosity rather thancontempt that has been shown to be a much healthier way to move us towardstraction as opposed to distraction.

the second technique is to reimagine thetask itself it turns out that people find ways to enjoy all sorts of tasksthat other people find horribly boring and unfun well it turns out thatresearchers tell us that we can actually learn to quote play anything that if we change. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

how we imagine the task itself we can actually find that there can be funin the task now this isn’t in the Mary Poppins way of putting a spoonful ofsugar it turns out that that actually doesn’t work in fact what we want to doinstead is to focus more intently on the task while looking for the variabilitywith in it.

finally the last thing we can do is to reimagine our temperament oneof the most prevalent bits of folk psychology is this idea that willpoweris depletable that you run out of it like gas in a gas tank and thereactually was some research a few years ago that found that this did occur butwhen other researchers wanted to replicate these studies they found that for the vast majority of people.

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

they did not experience what’s called egodepletion this idea that willpower runs except for one group of people accordingto Carol Dweck at Stanford University Iger depletion was found only in peoplewho believed in the phenomenon.

so if you were the kind of person who believedthat your willpower runs out that you’re spent at the end ofthe day and if you were anything like I used to be I’d sit down on the couch andI’d say uh how can I possibly resist any more temptations. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

I’d watch Netflixand have a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to reward myself because I hadspent all my willpower well it turns out that was a self-limiting belief that Ihad told myself about my temperament so what we need to do is to reimagine ourtemperament particularly.

this pernicious belief that technology is addicting allof us that it’s hijacking our brains that is scientific rubbish it is nottrue and in fact when we tell people this myth that it’s addicting everyoneit’s hijacking our brains that there’s nothing we can do about itguess what it becomes true this is called learned helplessness.

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

when peoplebelieve there’s nothing they can do about the big bad algorithms and thecorporation’s taking over their brains they stop trying and so of course itbecomes the case that big when they feel they can’t do something about it theydon’t do anything about it so what I wanted to do within distractible was toshow people that we are far more powerful than we know that there aresome simple things that we can do like mastering our internal triggers tocontrol our attention and choose our life you. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

The brain is an amazing and complex organ. And while many peopleare fascinated by the brain, they can’t really tell you that much about the propertiesabout how the brain works because we don’t teachneuroscience in schools. And one of the reasonswhy is that the equipment is so complex and so expensive.

that it’s really only done at majoruniversities and large institutions. And so in order to be ableto access the brain, you really need to dedicate your life and spend six and a half yearsas a graduate student just to become a neuroscientistto get access to these tools. 5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind.

And that’s a shamebecause one out of five of us, that’s 20 percent of the entire world,will have a neurological disorder. And there are zero curesfor these diseases. And so it seems thatwhat we should be doing is reaching back earlierin.

the eduction process and teaching students about neuroscienceso that in the future, they may be thinking about possiblybecoming a brain scientist. When I was a graduate student,my lab mate Tim Marzullo and myself, decided that what if we took this complex equipment that.

we have for studying the brain and made it simpleenough and affordable enough that anyone that you know, an amateuror a high school student, could learn and actually participatein the discovery of neuroscience. And so we did just that.

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

A few years ago, we starteda company called Backyard Brains and we make DIY neuroscience equipmentand I brought some here tonight, and I want to do some demonstrations. You guys want to see some? So I need a volunteer. So right before — what is your name?(Applause) Sam Kelly: Sam.

Greg Gage: All right, Sam, I’m goingto record from your brain. Have you had this before? SK: No. GG: I need you to stick outyour arm for science, roll up your sleeve a bit, So what I’m going to do,I’m putting electrodes on your arm, and you’re probably wondering, I just said I’m going to record from yourbrain, what am I doing with your arm?

Well, you have about 80 billion neuronsinside your brain right now. They’re sending electrical messagesback and forth, and chemical messages. But some of your neuronsright here in your motor cortex are going to send messages downwhen you move your arm like this.

They’re going to go downacross your corpus callosum, down onto your spinal cordto your lower motor neuron out to your muscles here, and that electrical dischargeis going to be picked up by these electrodes right here and we’re going to be able to listen to exactly what your brainis going to be doing. So I’m going to turn this on for a second.

Have you ever heardwhat your brain sounds like? SK: No. GG: Let’s try it out.So go ahead and squeeze your hand. (Rumbling) So what you’re listening to, so this is your motor unitshappening right here. Let’s take a look at it as well. So I’m going to stand over here, and I’m going to open up our app here. So now I want you to squeeze.

5 Technology is Hijacking Your Mind

(Rumbling) So right here, these are the motor unitsthat are happening from her spinal cordout to her muscle right here, and as she’s doing it, you’re seeing the electrical activitythat’s happening here. You can even click hereand try to see one of them. So keep doing it really hard.

So now we’ve paused on one motor action potential that’shappening right now inside of your brain. Do you guys want to see some more? (Applause) That’s interesting,but let’s get it better. I need one more volunteer. What is your name, sir? Miguel Goncalves: Miguel.

GG: Miguel, all right. You’re going to stand right here. So when you’re moving your arm like this, your brain is sending a signaldown to your muscles right here. I want you to move your arm as well. So your brain is going to senda signal down to your muscles.

And so it turns out that there isa nerve that’s right here that runs up here that innervatesthese three fingers, and it’s close enough to the skinthat we might be able to stimulate that so that what we can do is copy your brain signalsgoing out to your hand and inject it into your hand, so that your hand will movewhen your brain tells your hand to move.

So in a sense, she will take awayyour free will and you will no longer haveany control over this hand. You with me? So I just need to hook you up. (Laughter) So I’m going to find your ulnar nerve, which is probably right around here. You don’t know what you’re signing up for when you come up.

So now I’m going to move awayand we’re going to plug it in to our human-to-human interface over here. Okay, so Sam, I want youto squeeze your hand again. Do it again. Perfect.

So now I’m going to hook you upover here so that you get the — It’s going to feela little bit weird at first, this is going to feel like a You know, when you lose your free will,and someone else becomes your agent, it does feel a bit strange. Now I want you to relax your hand.

Sam, you’re with me? So you’re going to squeeze. I’m not going to turn it on yet,so go ahead and give it a squeeze. So now, are you ready, Miguel? MG: Ready as I’ll ever be. GG: I’ve turned it on, so go aheadand turn your hand. Do you feel that a little bit?MG: Nope.

GG: Okay, do it again?MG: A little bit. GG: A little bit? (Laughter) So relax. So hit it again. (Laughter) Oh, perfect, perfect. So relax, do it again. All right, so right now, your brain is controlling your armand it’s also controlling his arm, so go ahead and just do it one more time.

All right, so it’s perfect. (Laughter) So now, what would happenif I took over my control of your hand? And so, just relax your hand. What happens? Ah, nothing. Why not? Because the brain has to do it. So you do it again. All right, that’s perfect. Thank you guys for beingsuch a good sport. This is what’s happeningall across the world — electrophysiology! We’re going to bring onthe neuro-revolution. Thank you.

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