FRANCE - Technology Battles for Our Attention

Arno Froese

Between distractions, diversions and the flickering allure of a random suggestion, the major computer platforms aim to keep us glued to our screens come what may. Now some think it is time to escape the tyranny of the digital age.

Everyone staring for hours at a screen has had some exposure to “captology”—a word coined by behavioral scientist BJ Fogg to describe the invisible and manipulative way in which technology can persuade and influence those using it.

“There is nothing we can do, like it or not, where we can escape persuasive technology,” this Stanford University researcher wrote in 2010.

All of us experience this “persuasive technology” on a daily basis, whether it’s through the endlessly-scrollable Facebook or the autoplay function on Netflix or YouTube, where one video flows seamlessly into another.

“This wasn’t a design ‘accident,’ it was created and introduced with the aim of keeping us on a certain platform,” says user experience (UX) designer Lenaic Faure.

Working with “Designers Ethiques,” a French collective seeking to push a socially responsible approach to digital design, Faure has developed a method for assessing whether the attention-grabbing element of an app “is ethically defensible.”

UX designer Harry Brignull describes such interactions as “dark patterns,” defining them as interfaces that have been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things they may not have wanted to do.

“It describes this kind of design pattern—kind of evil, manipulative and deceptive,” he told AFP, saying the aim was to “make you do what the developers want you to do.”

One example is that of the newly-introduced EU data protection rules which require websites to demand users’ consent before being able to collect their valuable personal data.

“You can make it very, very easy to make people click ‘OK’ but how can you opt out, how can you say ‘no’?”

Even for him, as a professional, it can take at least a minute to find out how to refuse.

Faure suggests that for a design to be considered responsible, the objective of the developer and that of the user must largely line up and equate to the straightforward delivery of information.

But if the design modifies or manipulates the user, directing them towards something they did not ask for, that should then be classed as irresponsible, he says.

French engineering student Tim Krief has come up with a browser extension called Minimal, which offers users a “less attention-grabbing internet experience” on the grounds that the internet “should be a tool, not a trap.”

Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, former head of the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) also believes that design can be used to effect positive change.

“Design could be another defense whose firepower could be used against making individuals the ‘playthings’” of developers, she said in January in a presentation on the “attention economy.”

-news.yahoo.com, 6 March 2019

Arno's commentary

It’s not an accident, the article insists; it’s all by design. This technology is really racing toward the end stages of the end-times. Mankind has developed computer systems, particularly for communications purposes, to such an extent that the younger generation will be totally lost without these tools at their disposal. Although very helpful, the development of timesaving digital devices by whatever name, will not stop but will race toward making humans more dependable on their own created product.

It seems quite obvious that the original Designer, the Creator of heaven and earth, knew about this development. His prophet Daniel stated regarding the last world ruler: “Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes in the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle. And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people” (Daniel 11:20-23).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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