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wojoyoho8 karma

Thank you for the thoughtful response. I have not read your work, so I can't comment or critique in detail. But, having been trained in neuroscience, I still have questions -- though I do understand that writing a book is far from a money-making scheme :). I assume the money came from speaking engagements and consulting gigs. I suppose my questions have more to do with your credibility.

First off, I believe where we need to be "real" is in understanding that the brain systems involved in forming habits are the exact same brain systems responsible for addiction. You have defined addiction in such a way that it can only be a harmful act -- that nicely removes any concern for you that you have helped create addiction in others. But to me, repeatedly spending several hours too long on Twitter (which has been purposefully designed to target the addiction/habit circuits ... unlike for example, a book) and avoiding an important task should be considered a "persistent compulsive dependency on a behavior that harms the user." How do you see that not fitting your definition?

Second, to say "you can't make people repeatedly do something they don't want to"... I mean, many many cigarette smokers do not want to be smoking any more. But they persist. Is this an addiction because cigarette smoking is harmful? Or is it an addiction because they don't want to do it, but they keep doing it (i.e. it's compulsive)? Many phone users want to use less... But somehow, someway, can't... Are you sure "behavioral design" isn't getting pretty close to mind control? Dozens of pings to the dopamine system every day, on a variable time and reward schedule, all with the stated aim of "helping" the user?

From the last paragraph in your reply to me, it almost seems as if you see Hooked and Indistractible as separate, un-related topics. As a neuroscientist, I see them as two sides of an identical coin -- our very human and yes, very hijacked dopamine circuits. "Trigger, an action, a variable reward, and continued investment" is pulled almost directly from gambling and addiction literature. People walk into traffic, tune out of conversations, and avoid responsibilities because they cannot unglue from their phone screen. But to you, these are "at times" distractions?

Something isn't adding up, but you can make the math work with the definitions you've provided.

Edit: So do you actually make money from the workshops at $500 a pop? I'd love to hear a little more on how it behooves all of us to stop labeling things addictive, and to stop worrying about mind-control, when you use both of these terms in the first paragraph to your marketing blog post "Hooks: An Intro to Manufacturing Desire."

Type the name of almost any successful consumer web company into your search bar and add the word “addict” after it. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Try “Facebook addict” or “Twitter addict” or even “Pinterest addict” and you’ll soon get a slew of results from hooked users and observers deriding the narcotic-like properties of these web sites. How is it that these companies, producing little more than bits of code displayed on a screen, can seemingly control users’ minds?

They are literally attacking the exact circuits responsible for addiction, guided by "industry insiders" who have learned enough psychology to be considered an expert to programmers.

We’re on the precipice of a new era of the web. As infinite distractions compete for our attention, companies are learning to master new tactics to stay relevant in users’ minds and lives. Today, just amassing millions of users is no longer good enough. Companies increasingly find that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they create. But as some companies are just waking up to this new reality, others are already cashing in.

And some are cashing in both on people getting hooked, and getting unhooked! ... Sorry, indistractible.

wojoyoho7 karma

1) Do you have any ethical concerns with respect to providing a road map for companies to create addictive and distracting products?

2) Do you have any ethical concerns making money both from providing a road map for companies to create addictive products and off selling a solution to addicted/distracted consumers?