Technology

Trends in Brief

It’s called persuasive design, and almost all big tech companies use it. By hiring psychologists, mental health professionals and behavioral science experts, companies can create products that are addictive and that actually manipulate our behavior.

The ethics of tech design

It’s called persuasive design, and almost all big tech companies use it. By hiring psychologists, mental health professionals and behavioral science experts, companies can create products that are addictive and that actually manipulate our behavior. The concept of persuasive design is nothing new, some researchers claim it all started with Socrates’ storytelling techniques (there’s always a Greek at the beginning, right?). However, the manipulative design has now moved far away from storytelling, and into the thing modern humans use the most; our beloved tech. A group of American psychologists is protesting against these “unethical and dangerous” practices, pointing out that these “hidden manipulation techniques” especially affect children, and the tech companies know this.

Tech’s energy problem

Listen, I know we all love our tech, but it comes with a very heavy energy price tag. Climate researchers are saying we have to cut our emissions in half by 2030, so that price tag is a problem. Many techies believe we could innovate ourselves out of this mess. However, we have been trying that for years, and even though electrical cars have become the hottest status symbol (thanks Musk!), 2018 will still be a record year for carbon dioxide emissions. Also, all new tech that excites us is not as environmentally friendly as clean cars. Mining cryptocurrencies alone now makes up one percent of the world’s total energy consumption. So if we want to innovate our way out of this, we need to focus on the innovation that matters before forcing everyone to use Bitcoin.

What comes after China?

Investors who entered the Chinese startup scene early have made fortunes on the country’s economic boom. Now, the country’s startup world is ­maturing and eager investors are looking for their new cash cows. Many investors believe sub-Saharan Africa is next. The region only has three unicorns so far, but due to expected high growth in population, internet penetration (currently under ten percent in most countries), and resources, the market could grow very fast. Others believe Latin America is the next unicorn machine and give Argentina as an example. The country has had a tough couple of years, but the “chronically dysfunctional economy” (a phrase used by Argentina’s minister of technology, ouch!) has actually helped startups flourish. High inflation and changing rules have forced them to be crafty and adapt a fighting spirit.

Ellen Montén