Monday, June 27, 2011

Mindvertisements

Quote from The Week, “Teens were no good at guessing which songs would do well. Their brain scans, on the other hand, often registered excitement for many of the songs that did become commercially successful—even if the teens said they didn't really like the songs. The results are further proof that consumers may not be aware of—or at least want to admit—what they like. A new field of research—neuroeconomics--studies just that phenomenon, anticipating popular trends by surveying gray matter.”

A couple entries ago I wrote a story where the most absurd part seemed to be not the teleportation of people to other locations but the reading of people's minds. Further, the most egregious of my transgressions appeared to be the suggestion that some corporation will make people feel or think things in the future. It appears I was wrong. We are starting to unlock the mind. And a new field of study, derived from the prevailing capitalistic mentality is aptly called neuroeconomics—the study of the brain to deduce what has economic potential. One of the major premises is that sellers have stopped trusting people to tell them the truth. They now bypass the word of the horse's mouth and go straight to the spark of neurons in the horse's brain.

Let me be clear, we are starting to read minds. Primitively, it's like an enormous picture book to us. A vague and hazy shot of something very complex, but we are deducing a lot from that snapshot. And we aren't using it to make us truly happier. We aren't using it to unlock enlightenment of sorts. We are using it to sell music. Bad music. And probably worse.

I don't protest it really. If people can tailor a product to better fit my needs then that sounds great. And all of the subjects are volunteers adequately compensated. It's not like you can run around with a mind reader gun and zap anyone.

Go ahead and do that. My main objection is that it seems to be a waste of money. Why do we even need more stuff? Being hip and on the cutting edge is no philosophy. It does not overlook any higher calling, it is the height of self-indulgence to believe that external stimuli will keep you happy and popular. What we needs resides within ourselves. We are now starting to read parts of the code that can hold keys to truly fulfilling lives, and I can tell you right now it isn't in a shiny white package with an apple logo on it. That door has been unlocked and I can tell you right now, an iPad still won't let you plug in USB devices; let alone bring you happiness.