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Has dopamine got us hooked on tech?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/04/has-dopamine-got-us-hooked-on-tech-facebook-apps-addiction

theguardian.com

Has dopamine got us hooked on tech?
Silicon Valley is keen to exploit the brain chemical credited with keeping us tapping on apps and social media

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Dopamine: The Brain Chemical Of Desire

Dopamine: The Brain Chemical Of Desire
  • Discovered in 1957, Dopamine is one of 20 major neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that communicate between nerves and cells.
  • In the 50s the chemical was associated with physical movement, which changed 30 years later when new experiments proved it to be associated with mental stimulation, addiction, desire, sex drive and ambition.
  • Dopamine is crucial for movement control, memory, mood, cognitive activity, sleep and attention.

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Dopamine: The Celebrity Molecule

Companies, advertising agencies and tech giants slowly realized the power of dopamine.

Tech companies which already rely on persuasion lapped up this ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’ molecule, essentially hacking the human mind after learning about its basic vulnerability, using the knowledge to increase the rate at which people use their services.

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Persuasive Technology: Irregularly Timed Rewards

If a reward is provided on a regular basis, the brain takes the same as a given, but if the same reward is irregular, the brain is primed to check again and again about the same. This is the same technique that is used in slot machines at gambling casinos.

Social media has been tremendously successful as it has been able to exploit this desire and addiction towards social affirmation, with random, irregular rewards.

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Games are enticing because you might win but you might not. And video games do it so efficiently, because they ride the tide of computer technology. The balance between winning and losing is continuously adjusted, according to how well you’re doing, as measured in hits and misses, gains and losses, moment by moment. The sweet spot knows you, it finds you. It adjusts to you.