Our Minds Have Been Hijacked

A former product manager for Google has broken the iron-clad grip about technology, privacy, freedom and the zombie-like state of minds being orchestrated by Google, Apple and Facebook.

Just to reiterate, the problem is the hijacking of the human mind: systems that are better and better at steering what people are paying attention to, and better and better at steering what people do with their time than ever before.

[Advertising] polluted the inner environment and the cultural environment and the political environment because it enabled anyone to basically pay to get access to your mind. And on Facebook specifically, it allows the hyper-targeting of messages that perfectly persuade and polarize populations. And that’s a dangerous thing. It also gave all these companies an incentive to maximize how much time they have of your life. So we have to get off of this business model. And we haven’t actually invented the alternative yet.

Right now, 2 billion people’s minds are already jacked in to this automated system, and it’s steering people’s thoughts toward either personalized paid advertising or misinformation or conspiracy theories. And it’s all automated; the owners of the system can’t possibly monitor everything that’s going on, and they can’t control it. This isn’t some kind of philosophical conversation. This is an urgent concern happening right now.

Finally! I’ve been warning and writing about this for years and years. The Internet (StupidNet) has become something far more sinister then most seem to realize. They’re literally infusing us with a drip-feed of misinformation, connedspiracy and distraction, now infecting over 2 billion minds.

Although I’m not really certain here that Tristan Harris really gets it. He does, at least in part, but he’s not articulated the connection yet between how the manipulation of our minds has created a society that is so easily malleable – and can be persuaded to literally do and support anything.

His idea is to simply re-engineer the technology – the interfaces that we use like Google, Facebook and Snapchat. That might help – a little, but as with anything that would tend to disempower the money makers, they’d just find another way around this and steamroll on.

No, we need much, much more then this. Getting offline is always a great start – or learn how to regulate your online activity and smartphone use. That’s what I do.

Google has literally forced all businesses to get online – and join Google+, Instagram, Linkein and Facebook – or else. Your site traffic will suffer immensely if you don’t. It’s built right into their algorithms. I find these platforms utterly useless and pretty much hate them all. They enable immense amounts of useless information that do not meet my interests and severely erode privacy, anonymity and even regulate your search results. Along with the enormous amount of data mining they enable and provide to their advertisers, they’ve become the “go to” places for hundreds of millions of zombies, who are literally addicted to their online lives and social networks.

You can’t think clearly when your mind is being controlled by others. The choice of what you feed your mind should be up to you – but it isn’t anymore. Not if you are online anywhere. Even I can’t do it, because I have no control over what is getting published, or what advertisers are doing or the information they are collecting. But the problem is deeper – what is being promoted into the public spaces online (and even non-public spaces) isn’t the “free flow of information” that you’d like to think exists. A great deal of it is regulated, restricted and monitored for public acceptance. What doesn’t pass the censors is removed.

All of the major companies are involved in doing this. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google – there are millions of examples of how these tech companies are actively sweeping the online activity of billions of people. What this means is they are also engaging in a false narrative themselves by restricting, regulating and controlling what people see.

Technology isn’t going to go away – not even in a powered down scenario. People have come to depend on its advantages and will continue to do so, for as long as possible.

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