From Fast Company:
Tech companies put a lot of work into designing their products to be “sticky.” That’s investor deck speak, but everyone knows what sticky really means: addictive.
While that may be good for the companies and their funders, a growing body of research is showing that it’s not so good for us users, and especially not for teens or kids. As the problem of tech abuse becomes better understood, tech companies may need to start measuring success by the quality of the time users spend with their products, not just the quantity. Discussions about the dangers of personal technology have been around a long time, but in the bubble of Silicon Valley it’s not a ready topic of conversation. People would rather talk about big ideas and their world-changing implications than about the unsavory by-products and unintended consequences that might come with them.
. . . .
[George Soros] went on a tirade, comparing Google and Facebook to resource-extraction companies (“Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social-media companies exploit the social environment.”) and to casinos (they “deliberately engineer addiction into the services they provide.”)
And: “Something very harmful and maybe irreversible is happening to human attention in our digital age,” Soros said. “Not just distraction or addiction; social media companies are inducing people to give up their autonomy.” Soros said now that it’s becoming harder to find brand-new users, social media companies have no choice but to please investors by demanding more of our time.
. . . .
On Wednesday Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said Facebook should be regulated like a tobacco product. “I think that you do it exactly the same way that you regulated the cigarette industry,” Benioff said on CNBC’s Squawk Alley. “Here’s a product: Cigarettes. They’re addictive, they’re not good for you,” Benioff said. For someone of Benioff’s stature and reputation, this is a bombshell.
Earlier this month, a pair of Apple’s institutional investors raised the flag on adolescent smartphone abuse in January. The two investors, JANA Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, asked Apple to do something about the unhealthy amount of time kids spend with their iDevices (and the apps within). Apple should make sure its youngest customers grow up to be healthy adult Apple customers.
Link to the rest at Fast Company
PG would probably not qualify as a free speech absolutist, but he’s pretty close.
People who want governments to regulate information that others voluntarily read or view worry PG. There is a definite history of slippery slopes and dictators in these sorts of movements.
In this context, addiction is a useful tool for those who don’t like what other people are reading or viewing. If some individuals really like reading or viewing particular content that critics don’t like, those people must be “addicted” and the only solution for this “addiction” is immediate government action.
This argument assumes government can and will do this job effectively today and into the distant future.
This argument also assumes that all future governments will use such powers in proper and beneficial ways.
In the United States, large numbers of people of certain political persuasions were vociferously critical of the actions of President Barack Obama and his government in the exercise of government power.
Now, large numbers of people of different political persuasions are vociferously critical of the actions of President Donald Trump and his government in the exercise of government power.
PG suggests that a government that has the power to regulate Facebook and its econtent may well also have the power to regulate Amazon and its ebooks.