The scientists who make apps addictive

October/November 2016 | IAN LESLIE |   The Economist 1843 Magazine


econmist.eplumeblog.behaviour.design

In 1930, a psychologist at Harvard University called B.F. Skinner made a box and placed a hungry rat inside it. The box had a lever on one side. As the rat moved about it would accidentally knock the lever and, when it did so, a food pellet would drop into the box. After a rat had been put in the box a few times, it learned to go straight to the lever and press it: the reward reinforced the behaviour. Skinner proposed that the same principle applied to any “operant”, rat or man. He called his device the “operant conditioning chamber”. It became known as the Skinner box.

Skinner was the most prominent exponent of a school of psychology called behaviourism, the premise of which was that human behaviour is best understood as a function of incentives and rewards. Let’s not get distracted by the nebulous and impossible to observe stuff of thoughts and feelings, said the behaviourists, but focus simply on how the operant’s environment shapes what it does. Understand the box and you understand the behaviour. Design the right box and you can control behaviour.

Skinner turned out to be the last of the pure behaviourists. From the late 1950s onwards, a new generation of scholars redirected the field of psychology back towards internal mental processes, like memory and emotion. But behaviourism never went away completely, and in recent years it has re-emerged in a new form, as an applied discipline deployed by businesses and governments to influence the choices you make every day: what you buy, who you talk to, what you do at work. Its practitioners are particularly interested in how the digital interface – the box in which we spend most of our time today – can shape human decisions. The name of this young discipline is “behaviour design”. Its founding father is B.J. Fogg.

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Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari Book review

September, 11   2016 |  |   The Guardian 

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‘An ethicist’s sense of rough justice’:Yuval Noah Hariri. Photograph:Antonio Olmos

 

Yuval Noah Harari began his academic career as a researcher of medieval warfare. His early publications had titles like “Inter-frontal Cooperation in the Fourteenth Century and Edward III’s 1346 Campaign” or “The Military Role of the Frankish Turcopoles”. Then, the story goes, having won tenure at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he embarked on a crusade of his own. He was invited to teach a course that no one else in the faculty fancied – a broad-brush introduction to the whole of human activity on the planet. That course became a widely celebrated book, Sapiens, championed by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Barack Obama, and translated into 40 languages. It satisfied perfectly an urgent desire for grand narrative in our fragmenting Buzz-fed world. The rest is macro-history.

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Documentary « Beyond : Varanasi, India »

December 9, 2012 |  Vimeo  | eplume.wordpress.com

Almost every major religion breeds ascetics; wandering monks who have renounced all earthly possessions, dedicating their lives to the pursuit of spiritual liberation.Their reality is dictated only by the mind, not material objects. Even death is not a fearsome concept, but a passing from the world of illusion.

“BEYOND” is an exclusive documentary featuring photographer Joey L. Set in Varanasi, India. The documentary by filmmaker Cale Glendening follows Joey and his assistant Ryan as they complete their latest photo series- “Holy Men.”

 

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Sapiens, a brief history of humankind,Yuval Noah Harari.

July. 24, 2015  | TED Talks  |    eplume.wordpress.com

Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth; we’ve spread to every continent, and our actions determine the fate of other animals (and possibly Earth itself). How did we get from there to here? Historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests a surprising reason for the rise of humanity.

 

N.B: Kindly find below the link to download the Excellent book (pdf) :
1. English ( Sapiens, A brief history of humankind) : https://www.docdroid.net/CMLOS8i/sapiens-a-brief-history-of-humankindyuval-noah-harari.pdf.html
2. Version française ( Sapiens, une brève histoire de l’humanité): https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxXUpLj-btJgdW8tam9GVEd3YkE/edit
3. You can buy it as well on Amzaon: https://www.amazon.com/Sapiens-Humankind-Yuval-Noah-Harari/dp/0062316095 
Bonne lecture mes amis

 

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Malcolm X. Oxford Union Debate, Dec. 3 1964

Dec. 3, 1964  |     eplume.wordpress.com

Full speech : Malcolm X. Oxford Union Debate, Dec. 3 1964

« You are referring to my treatment of the previous speaker? You make my point! That as long as a white man does it, it’s alright, a black man is supposed to have no feelings . But when a black man strikes back he’s an extremist, he’s supposed to sit passively and have no feelings, be nonviolent, and love his enemy no matter what kind of attack, verbal or otherwise, he’s supposed to take it. But if he stands up in any way and tries to defend himself, then he’s an extremist.

No, I think that the speaker who preceded me is getting exactly what he asked for. My reason for believing in extremism, intelligently directed extremism, extremism in defense of liberty, extremism in quest of justice, is because I firmly believe in my heart, that the day that the black man takes an uncompromising step, and realizes that he’s within his rights, when his own freedom is being jeopardized, to use any means necessary to bring about his freedom, or put a halt to that injustice, I don’t think he’ll be by himself. I live in America where there are only 22 million blacks against probably 160 million whites. One of the reasons that I am in no way reluctant or hesitant to do whatever is necessary to see that black people do something to protect themselves, I honestly believe that the day that they do, many whites will have more respect for them, and there’ll be more whites on their side than there are now on their side with these little wishy-washy “love thy enemy” approach that they have been using up until now. And if I am wrong than you are racialist.

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The Double Sting – Death of a Russian cop

July 27, 2015 |   |  The  New Yorker

Boris Kolesnikov’s rise as a corruption fighter in the Interior Ministry was unusually rapid—and ultimately fatal.

Boris Kolesnikov’s rise as a corruption fighter in the Interior Ministry was unusually rapid—and ultimately fatal.

The line for lawyers and family members to get into Lefortovo prison starts to form around five in the morning. The building, on a quiet street just east of Moscow’s Third Ring Road, now officially belongs to the Ministry of Justice, but it’s still informally known as the prison of the F.S.B., a successor agency to the K.G.B. Early on June 16, 2014, one of the prisoners awaiting visitors was Boris Kolesnikov, a general who had been the deputy head of the Interior Ministry’s anticorruption department. Along with nearly a dozen other officers from his unit, he had been charged with entrapment and abuse of authority, running an “organized criminal organization” that illegally ensnared state bureaucrats in artificially provoked corruption schemes.

Kolesnikov’s lawyer, Sergei Chizhikov, arrived around dawn and stood in line for several hours. At 9 A.M., guards began letting in a few people at a time. By eleven, Chizhikov was still waiting. Eventually, a guard told him that his client had been taken to another site, the headquarters of the Investigative Committee—the Russian equivalent of the F.B.I.—for questioning. “Look for him there,” the guard said.
When Chizhikov finally made it to an interrogation room on the Investigative Committee’s sixth floor, he found Kolesnikov seated at a table with an investigator and two guards. Kolesnikov, who was thirty-six, was clean-shaven and dressed in a blue tracksuit. He had the muscular frame of a cop, but a smooth, youthful face and puffy cheeks.

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Hume on Free Will

Oct 7, 2014 |  Paul Russell |  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

First published Fri Dec 14, 2007; substantive revision Tue Oct 7, 2014

« But to proceed in this reconciling project with regard to the question of liberty and necessity; the most contentious question of metaphysics, the most contentious science… » —David Hume (EU, 8.23/95)

David Hume is widely recognized as providing the most influential statement of the “compatibilist” position in the free will debate — the view that freedom and moral responsibility can be reconciled with (causal) determinism. The arguments that Hume advances on this subject are found primarily in the sections titled “Of liberty and necessity”, as first presented in A Treatise of Human Nature(2.3.1–2) and, later, in a slightly amended form, in the Enquiry concerning Human Understanding(sec. 8). Although there is considerable overlap in content between these two statements of Hume’s position, there are also some significant differences. This includes, for example, some substantial additions in the Enquiry discussion as it relates to problems of religion, such as predestination and divine foreknowledge. While these differences are certainly significant they should not be exaggerated. Hume’s basic strategy and compatibilist commitments in both works remain the same in their essentials

It has become common practice to treat the two sections “Of liberty and necessity” as self-standing contributions that can be fully understood more or less in isolation from Hume’s philosophical commitments and principles as found outside these sections. (Many anthologies present one or other of these sections as complete statements of Hume’s position on this subject.) There is, nevertheless, an intimate and complex relationship between what Hume has to say in the sections “Of liberty and necessity” and his moral psychology and philosophical system as a whole. Neglect of these features has led to some serious misunderstanding concerning the character and content of Hume’s compatibilism. Having said this, it is equally important to acknowledge that the established or “classical” interpretation of Hume’s views on this subject has served as the foundation for the subsequent development of compatibilist strategy over the past two centuries — especially as found in various prominent representatives of the 20th century empiricist tradition (e.g., Ayer, Schlick, et al.).

This article will be arranged around a basic contrast between two alternative interpretations of Hume’s compatibilist strategy: the “classical” and “naturalistic” interpretations. According to the classical account, Hume’s effort to articulate the conditions of moral responsibility, and the way they relate to the free will problem, should be understood primarily in terms of his views about thelogic of our concepts of “liberty” Lire la suite

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