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The company is named after the dopamine molecule in our brains that aids in the creation of desire and pleasure.Brown and his colleagues write computer code for apps used by fitness companies and financial firms.We don’t end up feeling good about how we’re using all this stuff. Because there’s a narrative that, “Oh, I guess they’re just doing this like we used to gossip on the phone, but what this misses is that your telephone in the 1970s didn’t have a thousand engineers on the other side of the telephone who were redesigning it to work with other telephones and then updating the way your telephone worked every day to be more and more persuasive. Anderson Cooper: How many Silicon Valley insiders are there speaking out like you are? We reached out to the biggest tech firms but none would speak on the record and some didn’t even return our phone call.Anderson Cooper: Do you think parents understand the complexities of what their kids are dealing with, when they’re dealing with their phone, dealing with apps and social media? Most tech companies say their priority is improving user experience, something they call “engagement.” But they remain secretive about what they do to keep people glued to their screens.” Well, the problem is that kids feel like, “Well, now I don’t want to lose my streak.” But it turns out that kids actually when they go on vacation are so stressed about their streak that they actually give their password to, like, five other kids to keep their streaks going on their behalf.And so you could ask when these features are being designed, are they designed to most help people live their life? They want you to use it in particular ways and for long periods of time. It’s rare for a tech insider to be so blunt, but Tristan Harris believes someone needs to be.Tristan Harris: Honestly, I was just bombarded in email and calendar invitations and just the overload of what it’s like to work at a place like Google. And it basically said, you know, “Look, never before in history have a handful of people at a handful of technology companies shaped how a billion people think and feel every day with the choices they make about these screens.”His 144-page presentation argued that the constant distractions of apps and emails are “weakening our relationships to each other,” and “destroying our kids ability to focus.” It was widely read inside Google, and caught the eye of one of the founders Larry Page.
Some programmers call it “brain hacking” and the tech world would probably prefer you didn’t hear about it. Tristan Harris: Well every time I check my phone, I’m playing the slot machine to see, “What did I get?
Tristan Harris: And it’s not because anyone is evil or has bad intentions.
It’s because the game is getting attention at all costs.
And the problem is it becomes this race to the bottom of the brainstem, where if I go lower on the brainstem to get you, you know, using my product, I win.
But it doesn’t end up in the world we want to live in.