Malevolent Mind Manipulation

Listened to two back-to-back podcast episodes this afternoon that complemented each other surprising well.

The first was an episode of Marc Maron’s WTF with my boy Douglass Rushkoff. (Note: Marc Hummel does not have ownership over or personal relationship with aforementioned media theorist.)

He talked about media theory-y things and his new book Present Shock, which I have written about previously. The duo also touched on Obama’s recent announcement {npr}:

This week President Obama announced his BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative, which the White House describes as “a bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind.”

Rushkoff placed the announcement as evidence that we now think that the human mind can be mined and controlled, which leads to what Maron called “impulse control”—the potential for advertisers to tweak our every want and desire based on sophisticated computer models.

Then I listened to a This American Life episode about gambling and Blackjack inparticular. The last story in that episode featured a story of a woman who sued a casino after she gambled away her one-million-dollar inheritance. It turned out that the casino was indeed manipulating her by offering lavish perks in exchange for her business (which is just their standard operating procedure). Her case was settled out of court.

Thought those two episodes offered up an interesting juxtaposition between what could be and what is.