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MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

MIT's Natasha Schüll's Addiction by Design
selected for Atlantic magazine's Best Books I Read This Year list

 

 


                   
"Addiction by Design is one of the foundational artifacts
                    for understanding the digital age—a lever, perhaps, to pry
                    ourselves from the grasp of the coercive loops that now
                    surround us."

                                           —  Alexis Madgiral, The Atlantic


 

The editors of The Atlantic magazine recently highlighted Natasha Dow Schüll's book, Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press, 2012) in their Best Books of the year article. Schüll is an Associate Professor of the Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

Atlantic senior editor Alexis C. Madgiral selected Schüll's book for inclusion on the list, writing:

Schüll "looks at how the gambling companies engineer behaviors as they simultaneously create and satisfy human desires...Though her book is nominally about the development of digital slots, the implications of her work reach into every interaction we have with an engineered artificially intelligent system like Facebook or Netflix or (soon) your car or home.

These systems train humans with imperfect, fast payouts that leave us wanting more. They can create what I call 'coercive loops,' that begin with an intent (see a friend's baby pictures) outside the machine's world, but quickly begin to operate on the machine's logic (click more pictures!). If books can be tools, Addiction by Design is one of the foundational artifacts for understanding the digital age — a lever, perhaps, to pry ourselves from the grasp of the coercive loops that now surround us."

Earlier this year, Schüll also received the Sharon Stephens Prize from the American Ethnological Society (AES) for Addiction by Design.

 

Suggested Links

Schüll STS Webpage

The Atlantic magazine

Schüll on 60 Minutes

MIT News Office article