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It’s All About Attention

I might be starting to understand blockchain but I think I’m deluding myself. To me, block chain is the mechanism through which a measure of value is passed. Maybe I’ve just made it more complicated?

When I struggled with multivariable differential equations in university, it was the genius of Laplace transforms that freed me. It was learning that there are analogous systems in nature that made engineering fun — like a mass/spring/damper system having the same behaviour as a capacitor/resistor/inductor circuit.

The parallel is attention. We only have a finite amount of time to pay attention to something. Attention can be measured as focus (intensity) multiplied by time. Attention is the means through which action is conveyed. It is a combination of observation and analysis. No action can take place without giving attention.

In the realm of Internet activities, the goal is to have one of those outcomes be commerce. Attention grabbing, aka online marketing, accounts for a quarter trillion dollars in spending and is the subsidy behind most of the “free” services out their. The better that these companies can translate attention into commerce, the larger the market will grow. To a Facebook or Google, this is a big motivation to use our data to only feed us ads that are very relevant to our needs. The ugly side of this is fake news or clickbait that takes us down a rabbit hole of time sinks.

Sam Harris recently had a podcast with Tristan Harris where they discussed the new battle for our attention. You can listen here.

The point: there are armies of people and AIs that are being deployed to get our attention. They know us individually and are becoming very effective. The only way to counter them is to employ our own AI against them use tools, like Newsfeed Eradicator or Rescue Time to get this attention back to where we’d like to deploy it.

The good thing — today, voice-based devices are a great way to keep in touch with technology without being sucked into a newsfeed.

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