Thursday, 26 March 2009

Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab - Good or Evil?

Brand Killer Robots reveals:
The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab develops insight into how computing products can best be used to persuade people to take action in ways dictated by the site owners. This they are accomplishing through specifically designed content on websites and mobile phone software — in order to assess how people think and how their thinking can be altered through their browsing interactions.

Yes, such a topic can be very scary and yes machines designed to manipulate human beliefs and behaviors sounds extremely intrusive, but we are told by the Department of Captology at Stanford that this is going to be very good news. According to Stanford such persuasive technology is going to bring about positive change in health, safety and education. Stanford also go on to say that they believe that such technology will even somehow advance global peace in thirty years time. They say that with good intent at the heart of everything they do and their expertise in theory, analysis and design that they are creating much greater positive experiences through persuasive technologies.

This body of knowledge, expertise and activity is collectively known as "Captology" and is defined as the intersection of computers and persuasion. It is the study of computers within the context of persuasive technologies.

Much of this work at Stanford concerns the research, analysis and design of interactive computing devices that alter users, perspectives, attitudes and behaviours.

We understand that these "persuader technologies" are of particular interest within an online sales context, given they can influence a change in a purchasers buying decisions. Stanford expects the takeup of this kind of technology to increase in the coming years, more particularly by mobile phone manufacturers and website vendors.

We ask "Ethical" or "Unethical"? Essential or non essential? Good or Evil? You choose?

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