Persuasive Technology

Most of them actually think they’re operating in the public interest.  Interactive psychological persuasion, as practiced according to the Fogg Behavioral Model, won’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, as they put it.  Trouble is, what one wants to do isn’t always in one’s own ultimate best interest.   For a particularly sobering case in point, consider the Las Vegas gambling system, as depicted by Natasha Dow Schull in her 2012 book Addiction by Design.    The most hard-core gamblers won’t even move away from the electronic one-armed bandit to go to the bathroom.  I don’t mean that they hold it until they leave and go home to do their business.  No, they just go on the spot where they’re sitting in front of the console, into a cup, or worse.  And it’s not about winning money.  They play to get into “the zone”, a psychological state of  personality effacement.  From the book:  “As machine gamblers tell it, neither control, nor chance, nor the tension between the two drives their play; their aim is not to win but to continue.”  We are dealing, in other words, with a system “in which time, space, and social identity are suspended in the mechanical rhythm of a repeating process”, as Schull puts it.  Schull avers that this is the realm of the psychoanalytic “death drive”.  I don’t believe I need point out the parallels between Las Vegas gambling and the protocols of the internet, with persuasive design leading the way for both enterprises.  It’s all there at the website of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford for those of you with an interest in the nuts and bolts.  BJ Fogg, originator of the Fogg Behavioral Model  (FBM), also has several websites devoted to the cause of personality modification.  Motivation–Ability–Trigger.  This is the simple protocol Fogg employs.  It’s all about ease.  And please keep in mind, It’s easier to effect a socially accepted behavior than one that is less socially accepted, as the Fogg model points out.  Why go against the current?  You’re just wasting your effort!  The Gospel of Efficiency dictates that one should not expend counterproductive effort, no matter what.  Your fitness tracker will alert you when you have crossed the line.  Feel like doing something, thinking something, that less than 30% of the public accepts?  Better think twice!  Or better yet, download the app that stops the thought from appearing in the first place!  In such a way will universal harmony be spread all across the earth.  Stanford Persuasive Technology Labs have a goal of establishing world peace in 30 years.  We are engineering on a grand scale now.

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