Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Neuromarketing ethics

John Shirley asks that all-important ethical question: "Why is it okay to rip off stupid people?"

He also offers a very entertaining and paranoid resumé and critique of neuromarketing.

They'll use the principles they learned in the lab to manipulate you when you don't know you're being manipulated and on a level of exactitude never before experienced. They're learning how to push your buttons with mind-control efficiency. What happens when these methods are applied to campaign advertising, and speeches? They're learning how to hypnotize you better, my friends, and maybe it's time to snap out of your trance and realize that. They're tinkering in your fucking brain.

Oh it sounds like paranoid ranting now, but eventually these pricks are going to figure out how to beam this shit right in front of your mind's eye. You'll have to PAY EXTRA not to get movie trailers and political ads beamed into your skull, someday. "I can't afford a neuro insulator and man, the headaches..."

Reminds me of Minority Report, the movie, when Tom Cruise is just walking around and having products pitched directly to him.

John Underkoffler, a futurist who worked on the film as a science and technology advisor, actually singles this out as something to be feared.

I think the clearest warning comes in relation to the kind of Orwellian or Huxley-esque scenario, where your eyes are constantly being scanned, your identity is being assessed at every moment and your location known at all times. In the movie, of course, that's motivated by principally market concerns, commercial concerns. The idea is that if we can identify you at this place and time, then we can advertise very specific to you. "It's time for a Guinness, John Anderton."

That idea was integral from the very beginning in Steven and Alex's conception. The idea that your privacy was really a thing of the past, that the pure market forces had long since eroded everyone's intimate civil liberties to the point where only the wealthy could afford to not be bothered all the time. That was one of the benefits of extreme wealth, that you could afford to silence some states where stuff wouldn't be yammering at you constantly trying to sell you watches and beer.

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