Hijacking Our Own Attention Controls to Curb Capitalistic Surveillance

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2021-05

Authors

Hilder, Jordan O'Dowd

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Abstract

There is currently a lacuna within the law with regard to the legality of the ethics of creating software with features that initiate and perpetrate addictive behavioral patterns: users are engaged in a perpetual scroll that allows for extensive free data mining that benefits the profit motives of corporations. The user is the product: in essence, the user’s attention is being mined, as the longer a user spends scrolling, the more profitable to a corporation he/she is. Internet companies are only concerned with how to best initiate, motivate and perpetrate addictive behaviors as strategies to mine data and in turn, optimize profits, and take no pains to protect or care for vulnerable populations that fall prey to the woes of addiction. This data is shared with corporations, institutions, and government agencies and used to modify behavioral changes and to classify, differentiate, and hierarchize individuals as they see fit. Knowledge is power. We no longer own our own data. We no longer own our own attention. Ethicists understand the need for enacting and enforcing policies and regulations that limit the data mining of Big Tech and limit the addictive potential of platform and app designs. In this paper, I examine the relationship between knowledge and power and its relevance and implications for the infiltration of surveillance as a mechanism of power in educational practices with the aim of increasing user conformity. I discuss the development of an app that helps redirect the obsessive-compulsive feedback loop of addictive thinking that benefits corporations and institutions into thinking patterns that help users control usage and break addiction, and in turn, generate positive physical, mental and socio-cultural benefits. Finally, I evaluate the positive and negative social implications of using attention distraction blocker apps.

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