Transhumanism and Discrimination in the Future of Work

25 |There has been a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the workplace. Do a search on duck duck go or some other search engine and you will no doubt discover countless articles about it. Yet, as I review several of the articles linked to from the search results, no one seems to be talking about a new demographic of workers that will no doubt disrupt the future world of work. What is the population I’m talking about? What is the one characteristic they all share? Well, in a word – transhumanism. Listen to this podcast to hear about future HR issues that will surely come.


Become a supporter of  The Jim Stroud Podcast

Subscribe to this podcast via your favorite podcast platform!

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy.  He now serves ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

There has been a lot of talk about diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the workplace. Do a search on duck duck go or some other search engine and you will no doubt discover countless articles about it. Yet, as I review several of the articles linked to from the search results, no one seems to be talking about a new demographic of workers that will no doubt disrupt the future world of work. What is the population I’m talking about? What is the one characteristic they all share? Well, in a word – transhumanism. I’ll explain what that is after this.


I have a question for Talent Acquisition Managers, how many jobs do you advertise a year? 100? 500? 10,000 or more? If so, let me give you a tip on how to maximize your job adverting budget. And that tip is, ClickIQ.

ClickIQ’s automated job advertising platform manages, tracks and optimizes the performance of your job advertising in real time, focusing your money where it’s needed most to reach both active and passive job seekers across Indeed, Google, Facebook, Instagram and an extensive network of job boards.

So, talent acquisition managers, if you want to make sure you are getting the most value out of your job advertising budget, I highly suggest you check out ClickIq online at www.clickiq.us. Or, you can email me directly. My email is jim at-click-dot-us

That’s right! I was so impressed by the technology behind ClickIQ that I joined the company. I think you will be impressed as well.Again, on the web – www.clickiq.us or email me directly jim at-click-dot-us.

You’ll be glad you did.

Wikipedia defines transhumanism this way, “Transhumanism is an international intellectual movement that aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.”

Transhumanism.org says, transhumanism is a way of thinking about the future that is based on the premise that the human species in its current form does not represent the end of our development but rather a comparatively early phase.

The definition I like the most is the one I found at CARM.org. They define transhumanism as the idea that human beings, as a whole, can be drastically improved in physical and mental areas with technologies, such as cloning, genetic modification, bionics, nanotechnology, drugs, etc.

The concept reminds me of an old TV show, “The Six Million Dollar Man.” In the show, an astronaut crashes to earth and scientists rebuild his body with bionic parts enabling him to run faster, see great distances and lifts tons of weight.

{clip from the TV show}

The Six Million Dollar Man was science fiction from the 1970’s. I’m sure you can imagine that the progress of technology is such that implanting technology inside of our bodies is not too hard to imagine. I mean, what are pacemakers? But pacemakers are one thing, they don’t give someone a competitive advantage in the workplace. What happens when the technology implanted inside someone gives them a competitive edge in the office? Would they be seen as the most qualified people, as far as recruiters and hiring managers are concerned? If so, how is that fair to all the other workers who don’t have that implanted technology? And if they discovered that they were at a disadvantage, how would they likely react? Well, I have a case study for you.

Oscar Pistorius can run a quarter mile in 45.07 seconds — fast enough to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games. And he did it without feet. Oscar was born without the bones that attach ankles to knees, so the South African had to have his legs amputated halfway down his calves as a baby. Years later as an adult, Pistorius runs on specialized prosthetics: crescent blades made of carbon fiber that attach to his knees called “Cheetah Flex-Feet.” As a double-amputee, Oscar holds world records for the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes. In 2007, he began competing against — and beating — world-class, able-bodied athletes. But amid his incredible success, some of Pistorius’ opponents have objected.

Here’s a quote from a 2012 article on Oscar Pistorious, it says…

“Late in 2007, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruled that [Oscar Pistorious’] artificial limbs were actually giving him an unfair advantage — that their springiness allowed him to push off the ground more efficiently than does a normal human ankle, letting him coast along at higher speeds using less exertion than other sprinters. [As a result] He was banned from able-bodied competition.

However, thanks to subsequent research and testimony led by biophysicist Hugh Herr, head of the Biomechatronics Research Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the IAAF overturned the previous ruling.”

I think in the future, the near-future, arguments similar to this will be had at a workplace near you. Someone will have a perceived technological advantage and those without it will protest. In the end, whatever brings more profit to the company will win out.

Consider this possibility, the car company – FORD has their assembly line workers wearing exoskeletons  which helps them lift and hold car parts overhead. The exoskeletons reduce wear and tear on employee’s bodies. As of August 2018, 15 Ford factories in seven countries are now wearing exoskeleton vests to reduce fatigue and injury. I don’t know much about exoskeleton technology so, take what I say next, with a grain of salt.

In the future, when it comes to hiring more assembly line workers for a car factory, experience with exoskeletons may be a requirement. If so, would someone with prosthetic limbs be the better hire? A careful analysis of data proves that people with prosthetic limbs are cheaper for a company to insure because, in the event of an accident, artificial limbs are easily replaced. As such, candidates with artificial limbs represent a lower risk to an enterprise than someone with all-natural born limbs. So, is it discrimination to hire those with artificial limbs or a logical business action based on data?

If you think that is just too… I don’t know… something. Here are a few more possibilities to wrap your brain around. And keep in mind, all of these examples are true. In fact, you can find the links to everything I cite on JimStroud.com.

Back in 2017, scientists were using electro-ence-pha-lography (EEG) sensors to pick up and monitor brain activity. A company called Neurosky used that technology to take pictures and post them to Facebook and Twitter just by thinking about it. Taking that into consideration, who is more qualified to be a Social Media Manager? A human with EEG brain implants who can post to social media at the speed of thought or someone without that technology implanted inside them? In a fast-paced political era and short news cycles, candidates with EEG brain implants are preferred by companies seeking every competitive edge they can get. So, that being said, is it discrimination for companies to give preference to candidates with EEG brain implants over those without it?

In 2014, researchers from Harvard University were able to send a simple mental message from one person in India to another person in France; essentially proving “brain to brain” communication. [I talked about this before in an earlier podcast.] So, that being said, when it comes to hiring Programmers in the future, companies will prefer to hire programmers that can work telepathically because they are more efficient.  As a result, candidates without telepathic implants that empower brain to brain communication may not be hired as much. Is this a discriminatory practice or simply the most efficient way to work? 

And then, there are designer babies. Back in 2017, scientists in the United States have successfully corrected a disease-causing mutation by altering genetic structure of a human embryo. Purpose being, genes that carry certain diseases will not be passed on to “newborns.” [I talked about this in an earlier podcast too.]  Now consider all of the ramifications of employing designer babies and the biases become apparent. Companies that focus on hiring “designer babies” can brag that they offer exorbitant healthcare benefits because it is unlikely certain diseases and conditions would even occur.  Designer babies tend to have IQs higher than the national average due to their genetic enhancements. They tend to be better educated since designer babies tend to come from wealthy families that can afford such treatments. Most of all, due to so many social advantages, designer babies have social connections which would be assets to any business development effort. Such being the case, is it discriminatory to target these individuals for high-paying jobs over non-genetically altered human beings? Or simply, the best business strategy?

 Sigh… The possibilities are enough to freak you out, if you let it. Don’t let it.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can leave a comment concerning this podcast on my website at www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. And if you have not already, please subscribe to my website. Your continued support keeps  this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

Music related to this podcast:

► Music Credit: LAKEY INSPIRED Track Name: “Better Days” Music By: LAKEY INSPIRED @ https://soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired Original upload HERE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXLzv… Official “LAKEY INSPIRED” YouTube Channel HERE – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOmy… License for commercial use: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported “Share Alike” (CC BY-SA 3.0) License. Full License HERE – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/… Music promoted by NCM https://goo.gl/fh3rEJ

► Music Credit: LAKEY INSPIRED Track Name: “Blue Boi” Music By: LAKEY INSPIRED @ https://soundcloud.com/lakeyinspired Original upload HERE – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAukv… Official “LAKEY INSPIRED” YouTube Channel HERE – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOmy… License for commercial use: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported “Share Alike” (CC BY-SA 3.0) License. Full License HERE – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/… Music promoted by NCM https://goo.gl/fh3rEJ

► Music Credit: Nkato Track Name: “Chill Soul Rap Instrumental” Music By: Nkato @ https://soundcloud.com/nkato Original upload HERE – https://soundcloud.com/nkato/chill-so… License for commercial use: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/…

Big Brother Goes Shopping

16 |  Did you know that when you shop, big brother is watching? Major retailers spend a lot of money on a lot of technology to attract your business and persuade you to spend more and more and more of your money. While that may not come as a surprise to you, the extent of how deeply retail technology tracks you may have you raising your eyebrows. In this episode, I share several case studies on how big data is being used to monitor your spending and persuade your buying habits. | Please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


Listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

Subscribe to this podcast via your favorite podcast platform!

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy.  He now serves ClickIQ as its VP, Product Evangelist.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Big Brother Goes Shopping

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Did you know that when you shop, big brother is watching? Major retailers spend a lot of money on a lot of technology to attract your business and persuade you to spend more and more and more of your money. While that may not come as a surprise to you, the extent of how deeply retail technology tracks you may have you raising your eyebrows. I’ll share with you several case studies on how big data is used to monitor your spending and persuade your buying habits, right after this special message.

{sponsor message: 12 DuckDuckGo Search Tips You Should Know to Boost Productivity}

When you become a preferred customer, join a loyalty program, use coupons or visit a store; you are generating data that is being tracked and monitored; all in order to enhance your shopping experience. Here are some examples of how all that data is being used, according to Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital.

Okay, 5 case studies

  1. A California fruit packing company warned Costco about the possibility of listeria contamination in its store fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines). Rather than send out a blanket warning to everyone who shopped at Costco recently, Costco was able to notify the specific customers that purchased those particular items. It first notified them by phone and followed up with a letter. Costco has been collecting reams and reams of user data even before big data was a marketing buzzword. They were able to help the Centers for Disease Control pinpoint the source of a salmonella outbreak back in 2010.
  2. Using data about women’s shopping habits, Target was able to identify that women buying large quantities of unscented lotion, cotton balls, supplements and washcloths might mean that those women are anywhere from a few weeks pregnant, to very close to their due date. In one case, a teen was suddenly getting mailers from Target promoting cribs and bibsbefore she had even told her father about the pregnancy. Oops!
  3. The Weather channel monitors the weather’s impact on viewers’ emotions. These predictive weather analytics look at trends based on location, and guide advertisers on how and when to deliver their message to help spur action. One such example was the partnership between Pantene, Walgreens and the Weather Channel. Using data collected by the Weather Channel, Pantene and Walgreens were able to anticipate when humidity in the air would be at its highest, prompting women to seek out a product at their local drugstore to prevent frizz and flyaway hair. This was branded as a “haircast” and lead to a 10% increase in sales of Pantene at Walgreens for the months of July and August, along with a 4% sales lift across the entire hair care category at Walgreens.
  4. Another example involving the Weather Channel is of a local pizza chain getting a 20% response rate through the combination of a location-based text marketing campaign coupled with cold weather and the potential for power outages. If you can’t cook, why not order out?
  5. During the busiest flight seasons, tens of thousands of passengers can become stranded every day. By looking at big data correlating weather conditions and flight cancellations, plus the fact that many travellers would be browsing on mobile devices, Red Roof Inn’s marketing team did a promotional campaign targeting those areas most likely to be hit by flight cancellations due to inclement weather. This ended up generating a 10% increase in business in those areas.

These are all examples of big data in retail being used for good. However, there is a potential for it all being used for an unfair, creepy business advantage. Case in point, Target suffered a bit of embarrassment due to a Minneapolis news report from KARE 11, which found Target’s app changed its prices on certain items depending on if you are inside or outside of the store. Here’s a clip from that report.

I was fascinated by this story, so I read up on it and found a couple of quotes I wanted to share with you. Both are from the KARE 11 news website.

In an emailed statement from Target, the company said “The Target app shows in-store pricing while in store, and online pricing while on the go. If a guest finds any item for a lower price across any of the ways they can shop Target, we’ll price match it.”

And here’s the other one.

 University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management Marketing Professor George John believes there’s a little more going on than that. “That particular experiment reveals so many interesting facts about our retail environment,” said John. “Somebody at Target programmed in an algorithm which says someone who is 50 feet within the store is willing to pay more. The most reasonable explanation is that you just revealed your commitment to buying the product, you’re in the store, or in the parking lot. If you are further away, you haven’t quite committed, so I’m going to give you a juicier deal. That’s why the price went up when you got closer to the store.”

So, all that being said, is Target now evil? Are they using their big data powers to get a creepy unfair business advantage? I doubt it. I think its all a matter of unintended consequences. Someone in a lab was probably experimenting with ways to bring greater value to Target customers and this glitch happened. I’m inclined to believe that because I have yet to hear of a pattern of this type of behavior from Target. I’m also inclined to believe that there will be more unintended consequences from major retailers leveraging big data because big data is not going away; that is the world we live in. Get used to it.

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

Links related to this episode:

Music in this podcast

Barcoding the Homeless

14Do you give money to the homeless people you meet on the street? I do, sometimes. But, mostly I don’t and that’s because I think it will be spent on some sort of vice and not on say… food or shelter. This is why I prefer to donate to a charity. If I give it to a charity, I can make a reasonable assumption that the money I donate will go to the intended purpose of getting someone the help they need. But what if there was a way to give funds directly to homeless people you encounter on the street with the guarantee that it would be spent responsibly? Well, I’ve found a very intriguing technical option that promises to do that very thing. Tune in to find out more. | Check out: 12 DuckDuckGo Search Tips You Should Know to Boost Productivity | And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.

Subscribe to this podcast via your favorite podcast platform!

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi! I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

Do you give money to the homeless people you meet on the street? I do, sometimes. But, mostly I don’t and that’s because I think it will be spent on some sort of vice and not on say… food or shelter. This is why I prefer to donate to a charity. If I give it to a charity, I can make a reasonable assumption that the money I donate will go to the intended purpose of getting someone the help they need.

But what if there was a way to give funds directly to homeless people you encounter on the street with the guarantee that it would be spent responsibly? Well, I happen to know of a technology that promises to do that very thing. You know the barcodes on food that you scan in the grocery store? Well, some people are putting barcodes on the homeless and donating to them that way. I’ll tell you more about it after this.

{sponsor message: 12 DuckDuckGo Search Tips You Should Know to Boost Productivity}

Okay, barcodes on the homeless. Here are the details, quoted directly from “The Mirror,” a news site based in the UK.

A charity working with homeless people have created wearable barcodes in a bid to help increase donations in a cashfree society.

The new initiative called Greater Change, backed by Oxford University, hands homeless people a QR code similar to those used for online tickets

People who want to give money, but do not have change to hand, can scan the code using their phone and make an online payment to the person.

Further on in the article, it says…

Each account is managed by a case worker who ensures that the money is spent sensibly and will make a positive impact towards the life of the individual.

The agreed targets can go to towards such things as a passport or rental deposit.

Alex McCallion, founder of Greater Change, told the BBC: “The problem we’re trying to solve here is that we live in an increasingly cashless society and, as well as this, when people give they worry about what this money might be spent on.

“So the solution we’ve come up with is a giving mechanism through your smart phone with a restrictive fund

To give the transaction a personal touch, good Samaritans will also be presented with a profile on the rough sleeper. It will give information on their circumstances, what their job used to be and how they became homeless in the first place.

When I read this, I was more than a little bit dumbfounded. The intention behind the initiative may have been good yet, something did not sit right with me. I looked up more articles discussing “Greater Change” and their initiative, not for more information per se, but to read the comments. (And there were plenty of comments!) They ranged from slightly sympathetic to snarky to down right rude. Here are the ones I thought were the most notable.

  • COMMENT: It’s a trick.  When you pull out your phone to scan the card to give the guy $1, the homeless guy will steal your phone and laugh at your measly one intended dollar.
  • COMMENT: First there was the “Gig” economy. Now there is the “Beg” economy.
  • COMMENT: How exactly, does making it easier to pan-handle successfully move anyone closer to the stated goal of ending homelessness?
  • COMMENT: The problem is, if he is homeless, how is he going to make rental payments all year long?
  • COMMENT: Didn’t we go down this road before? With the numbers and the tattoos and the showers? How long does it have to be between assigning someone a number, and eliminating the undesired numbers? (NOTE: Referring to the holocaust, no doubt)
  • COMMENT: It’s a way to measure income received by beggars for tax purposes.
  • COMMENT: Yup, a new low: Too lazy to even beg (or explain yer circumstances)!

All of these comments struck a chord with me; resonating over and over in my brain. Especially this point: How does enabling homeless pan-handling help said homeless to get off the street? And stay off the street? At best, you are encouraging a cycle of dependency. I think I would rather invest in some sort of entrepreneurial pursuit with a return on investment.

There is a website called Kiva, that let’s you lend as little as $25 to create opportunities for people all over the world. Why not do the same for the homeless here? A portion of what is donated could be for immediate needs like food and shelter, but the lionshare of donations would be towards a startup business of some kind. (Even if it was something so modest as, shining shoes inside a bus station.)

Take it a step further and maybe people could donate business advice, offer affiliate products to sell, give temporary office space or clothing, so that someone could not only start a business in order to support themselves but, eventually, employ others as well. I think if the people over at “Greater Change” further developed their app to do things like that, I would be more supportive of it. But that’s just me. What do you think?

If you love what you heard, hate what you heard or, don’t know what you just heard, I want to know about it. You can reach me at my website – www.JimStroud.com. In addition to finding source material and related information for this podcast episode, you’ll find other goodies that I hope will make you smile. Oh, before I go, please financially support this podcast with a little somethin’-somethin’ in my virtual tip jar. (There’s a link in the podcast description.) Your generosity encourages me to keep this podcast train chugging down the track. Whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot, whoot-whoot…

Links related to this episode:

Music in this podcast:

Author: Kevin MacLeod Website – http://incompetech.com/ Royalty Free Link – http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-… Genre Link – http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-… Song – “Backed Vibes Clean” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…

Author: Kevin MacLeod Website – http://incompetech.com/ Royalty Free Link – http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-… Genre Link – http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-… Song – “AcidJazz” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b…

Wild Spirit by Del. https://soundcloud.com/del-sound Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/b… Music promoted by Audio Library https://youtu.be/U2kuuRH7kYo

How To Stop Tech Addiction

#11 | I read the other day that chronic social media use is as bad as drug addiction and I remember thinking, “Is that true?” Well, I did a little bit of research and the answer is yes, a very disturbing yes. I discuss how bad the tech addiction epidemic is and share an unlikely method for stopping tech addiction in our time.  The source of the improbable cure? Cocaine. Tune in for more details. This will be controversial, to say the least.  | Click here for information on protecting your privacy on Facebook.  And please support my Starbucks habit by dropping something in my virtual tip jar. Thank you.


Click here to listen to this podcast on Anchor.fm

Links related to this podcast:

Music

About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at www.JimStroud.com.

Subscribe now!

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

I stumbled across a very interesting article from the Miami Herald the other day and it got me thinking. Well, let me share a quote from the article, before I start…

We like to say we’re addicted to our phones or an app or some new show on a streaming video service. But for some people, tech gets in the way of daily functioning and self-care. We’re talking flunk-your-classes, can’t-find-a-job, live-in-a-dark-hole kinds of problems, with depression, anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts part of the mix.

Suburban Seattle, a major tech center, has become a hub for help for so-called “tech addicts,” with residential rehab, psychologists who specialize in such treatment and 12-step meetings.

“The drugs of old are now repackaged. We have a new foe,” Cosette Rae says of the barrage of tech. A former developer in the tech world, she heads a Seattle area rehab center called reSTART Life, one of the few residential programs in the nation specializing in tech addiction.

Tech addiction is real! I’m going to talk about that and an unlikely solution found from an experiment with cocaine. Stay tuned!

Tech addiction is real, very real and I am concerned that it will get worse; especially when I consider the research. Let me share with you a few random stats related to technology addiction.

Research from a site called “The Daily Infographic” says:

    • The average person checks their cellphone 110 times a day. (Hah! You checked it just then, didn’t you?)
    • 75% of drivers have admitted to texting, at least once, while driving.
    • 61% sleep with their cellphone under the pillow, turned on or, next to their bed.
    • 50% of people feel uneasy if they leave their cellphone at home
    • 44% check job related email when on vacation.
    • 26% of all car accidents are caused by phone usage
    • 20% of people between 18-34 have used smartphones during sex
    • 12% of adults use their phones in the shower

But all of that is cellphone related. What about video games?

A study appearing in the medical journal Pediatrics, conducted by research scientist Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., examined video game usage rates of 3,034 children and teenagers. Video game addiction statistics from this study revealed the following:

  • The average length of time spent playing video games was 20 hours per week
  • An estimated 72 percent of American households play video games
  • An estimated nine percent of the 3,034 participants in the study showed signs of video game addiction
  • Four percent of study participants were categorized as extreme users who played video games 50 hours per week on average

And here are a few more observations on video game addiction that I found from various sources online.

  • The same regions of the brain that are activated when craving occurs in alcohol and drug addicts are also activated in video game addicts when they see images of computer games.
  • People who have higher levels of trait anxiety, aggressive behavior, and neuroticism are at a higher risk for video game addiction.
  • Students addicted to video games have lower academic grades than their non-addicted peers.
  • Forty-one percent of people who play online video games admitted that they played computer games as an escape from the real world.

As alarming as these stats and insights are, I am simultaneously encouraged and discouraged when I learned of a possible cure for addictions in general and possibly, tech addictions, specifically. The source of the research is Cocaine.org.

Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada wanted to test the impact of environmental factors associated with addiction. So, they built an elaborate rat cage. Inside this rat cage, rats were given the ability to socialize with other male and female rats, toys to keep the rats amused, rat condominiums that featured multiple levels for sleeping, and tunnels so the rats had somewhere to play and hide. They also made cocaine available to them via a lever that they could easily access when desired. Bruce Alexander and his colleagues nicknamed it “Rat Park.” Alexander and company then compared the behavior of the Rat Park Rats with rats who were given the same access to cocaine but without all the luxuries that Rat Park had.

The end result? The Rat Park Rats rarely pursued the cocaine; even after they were exposed to it. Conversely, the rats who were kept isolated in cages that did not contain amusements nor other rats to fellowship with, were much more likely to become addicted to the drugs offered.

These experiments continued with scientists using different variations of rugs, different types of rats, and different environments. The conclusion was the same. When the fundamental needs of a rat were met, addiction to drugs was unlikely. The scientific community was highly skeptical of these results initially but, eventually accepted them when other studies produced similar results. And just in case you’re curious as to when this all happened, the Rat Park experiments were conducted in the late 1970’s and published between 1978 and 1981.

I am encouraged by this research because if meeting the fundamental needs of a rat can lessen the chance of their drug addiction, maybe the same can be said for humans. And if so, what are the fundamental needs of humans? And if they are met, would they cancel out all addictions? I’m not an expert on psychology so, I don’t know for sure. But I can guess that at least one fundamental need that all humans have is the need to feel connected with other people; in other words, friendship. And that’s when I get… discouraged.

I get discouraged because loneliness is an epidemic. Search DuckDuckGo, Bing or Google for the phrase “loneliness epidemic” and you will find out that loneliness is widespread; especially among Americans where some researchers say 3 out of every 4 are affected. And therein is the paradox of tech addiction. Developing real-life friendships and a sense of belonging, will make people less susceptible to tech addiction. However, for tech addicts to receive that help, they would have to move away from technology. Sigh… It is a conundrum. How do we stop tech addiction or at least, stem the tide?

    • Maybe the solution is more tech addict rehab programs like restart Life.
    • Maybe it’s making digital detox retreats mainstream. Have you heard of those? As I understand it, you spend time in nature without your cellphone but, there’s more to it than that. As an example, check out digitaldetox.org.
    • Maybe we can start removing free wifi in restaurants and bars and airports and other public places and encourage people to talk to the person next to them. It could be a big marketing campaign, “Put down the phone, pick up a friend. Be a better human.”
    • Maybe Hollywood and pop stars could make it uncool and/or rude to keep your face buried in a smartphone by removing the act from movies and TV shows and music videos. It’s not unheard of. People used to smoke on TV and movies all the time but now, it never happens. I’m sure that affected the sales of cigarettes as it surely changed the culture of society. I bet it could reduce tech addiction as well.
    • But I’m rambling. If you have any ideas for reducing tech addiction, I’d love to hear it and share it with my audience. So, share your thoughts?