Message posted on 06/12/2023

ESDiT online seminar, Cor van de Weele, How can attention seeking be good?, Tuesday, December 12, 2023 3:30 PM-5:00 PM

ESDiT online seminar series on "Attending as practice in the attention economy" How can attention-seeking be good? Cor van de Weele Tuesday, December 12, 2023, 3:30 PM-5:00 PM

Would you be interested in attending? Please write to Secretariat.P&E@tue.nl if you want to participate in this session (or others; see below).

Aim: The online series aims to contribute, using philosophy and ethics, to constructively critique the attention economy (the tech industry's business model that treats human attention as a commodifiable resource).

Other sessions The upcoming sessions will be: When (CET) Who Title Friday, January 12, 2024 4:00 PM-5:30 PM Mark Fortney Loving Attention: Buddhaghosa, Katsuki Sekida, and Iris Murdoch on Meditation and Moral Development

We are looking forward discussing this with you. Gunter Bombaerts, Alessio Gerola, Andreas Spahn, Anna Puzio, Jeroen Hopster, Joseph Sta. Maria, Lyanne Uhlhorn, Madelaine Ley, Lavinia Marin, Lily Frank, Madelaine Ley, Matthew Dennis, and Tom Hannes

Previous sessions Check the recordings of the session at the ESDiT website here. Who Title Peter Hershock Intelligent Technology, the Attention Economy, and the Risks of Consciousness Hacking: A Buddhist Perspective Silvia Caprioglio Panizza Grounding ethics through attention: Murdoch, Weil, and Zen Buddhism Soraj Hongladarom Toward an Ethics of Attention. Dan Nixon Just Perceive: How Phenomenology and the Arts Can Guide Us in the Tech Era. Sebastian Watzl and Katharine Naomi Whitfield Browne The Commodification of Attention. An analysis and ethical assessment. Tom Hannes The attention of ethics. Matthew Dennis Repurposing Persuasive Technologies for Digital Well-Being. Yves Citton and Enrico Campo From the Attention Economy to a Politics of Curiosity Galit Wellner The co-shaping of attention and technologies Gloria Mark Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity

Background The "attention economy" refers to the tech industry's business model that treats human attention as a commodifiable resource. The libertarian critique of this model, dominant within tech and philosophical communities, claims that the persuasive technologies of the attention economy infringe on the individual user's autonomy and therefore the proposed solutions focus on safeguarding personal freedom through expanding individual control. While this push back is important, it uncritically accepts the framing of attention as a scarce commodity, giving rise to incomplete assessments of the moral significance of attention, and obscuring richer sets of ethical strategies to cope with the challenges of the attention economy. We step away from a negative analysis in terms of external distractions and aim for positive answers, by approaching attention as practice. The series engages with speakers from all kinds of backgrounds (philosophy on authors like Iris Murdoch, Martha Nussbaum, Simone Weil, Merleau-Ponty, Harry Frankfurt, or Buddhist ethics ...; psychology; artificial intelligence; ...). Questions that will be central in the online series: 1-What do attention and related concepts mean in the "attention economy"? 2-How is attention a basis for or related to morality? 3-How can attention (and related concepts) be built in the design of the attention economy in a humane way? To answer this last question, we think the philosophical debate should turn from a negative to a positive focus:

  • From "What are the distractions?" to "How can wisdom practices, virtues, ... support a desirable form of attention?";
  • From "I must take back control of my attention" to "How can we use attention for flourishing, wisdom, ...?";
  • From reacting against "promising (false?) free comfort" to supporting "acceptance of necessary effort"; and
  • From "increasing individual needs in the attention economy" to support "collective or intentional joint attention in the attention ecology".

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