Neuroscience providing new insights

Advances in imaging technology are having all kinds of beneficial effects in medicine. Apart from reducing the need for invasive exploratory surgical procedures in all parts of our bodies it is also helping neuroscience to develop apace. We can now see a lot of what our brains are actually doing in response to given stimuli. We no longer simply have to theorise or speculate about it.

However, it seems parts of the online and computer games industry are also catching on. A neuro scientist friend tells me he is aware that modern games companies are  judging the effectiveness/acceptability of new games they commission by the extent to which they trigger observable  and substantial dopamine effects. If the bang isn’t big enough it’s back to the drawing board. The designers are asked to do “better”.  In other words  some games companies are engineering potentially addictive or near addictive behaviour.

Am I alone in thinking there is something unbelievably distasteful about this sort of appliance of science? We know the advertising industry has for many years been  a major employer of psychologists who exploit their knowledge of human behaviour in order to help their employers sell more product but there was always a comforting  degree of imprecision surrounding what they did . This new level of purposeful, intimate intrusiveness feels to me like it is crossing an ethical line. We outlawed subliminal advertising years ago. How is this so very different?

If any reader knows any more about this sort of stuff please get in touch.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International and is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John is now or has formerly been an Adviser to the Council of Europe, the UN (ITU), the EU and UNICEF. John has advised many of the world's largest technology companies on online child safety. John's skill as a writer has also been widely recognised.
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