1 min readSilicon Valley refuseniks: Technology is hijacking your brain

Technologies are designed to be addictive. How can this affect our future societies?

In 2017, The Guardian published an article featuring the “refuseniks’, Silicon Valley engineers who are shunning the very technology they helped create. Their concerns are very real: technology is addictive, and its goal is to increase attention-seeking behaviors, as well as individuals’ cognitive functions.

Some of these refuseniks are well-known for their contributions to technology – Justin Rosenstein and Leah Pearlman, creators of the Facebook “like” button, Loren Brichter, creator of the pull-to-refresh mechanism for Twitter, Roger McNamee, one of the first investor of Google and Facebook, and of course, Tristan Harris, former Google employee.

Why It Matters

This article shows us that even the most well-meaning people can create a technology that can produce harm to the society they wanted to improve. The refuseniks featured in this article did not realize that their creations could be abused, and that it would cause so much damage.

Now imagine what unintended consequences may arise out of sophisticated AI if the consciousness of people in the society are not ready for it.

Questions to Ponder Upon

What can happen if developers were intentionally making their technologies addictive?

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