Reflections on Netflix’s Artwork Personalization: https://medium.com/netflix-techblog/artwork-personalization-c589f074ad76
I’ve been telling people for years that psychology is the college major of the future…unfortunately it will also include the psychology of machines and artificial intelligence. AI engineers will be shrinks for computers. But I digress.
Yes, advertising and marketing as a practice is designed to influence behavior but we are in a different era where we consume our world and facts in an ever-present stream and the influences are opaque but ubiquitous.
In an era where attention is the primary currency tech companies are trying to extract from us (even if you are paying Netflix with cash money they still need your attention for you to justify that expense and perceive value) there is a different depth to the influence sought than just trying to sell a physical product.
What are the Danger Things?
Netflix’s goal is to increase engagement, regardless to the benefit of the user. Any increase in engagement is ALWAYS to Netflix’s benefit but is it always to the benefit of the user?
Take this beyond Netflix to social media broadly. Social Media Company X will always benefit from great engagement yet some users will suffer ill effects (negative concentration, mood, and emotional impacts are researched and known).
It is the same as a casino, again a common analogue for our relationship to social media. The house always benefits by more engagement, many gamers will benefit and have fun, many will engage and lose too much, and a few will become hooked and physiologically and pathologically addicted; lives and families ruined.
Expand to another physical product example, tobacco products. More users the better, if a few million get lung cancer, the company still won.
Moral considerations around technology are irrelevant when the company (the house) always wins.
With Netflix the goal is to manipulate (read the story, it is manipulation) your behavior to their benefit which, because they are simply an entertainment company, they conflated with the benefit of all its users. Perhaps that’s true in the case of Netflix but the underlying psychological mechanics and absent (or ignored) moral considerations are the danger that run through most social media and technology today.