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Tech

We have reached peak screen

The smartphone hypnotizes us into screen glaring addicts.

We have zero control of our attention and it makes us feel like we’re losing our mind. Writes Farhad Manjoo in his piece We Have Reached Peek Screen:

Screens are insatiable. At a cognitive level, they are voracious vampires for your attention, and as soon as you look at one, you are basically toast.

There are studies that bear this out. One, by a team led by Adrian Ward, a marketing professor at the University of Texas’ business school, found that the mere presence of a smartphone within glancing distance can significantly reduce your cognitive capacity. Your phone is so irresistible that when you can see it, you cannot help but spend a lot of otherwise valuable mental energy trying to not look at it.

The companies Apple and Google who got us hooked in the first place are now trying to reduce screen time by outsourcing things like to-do’s to voice assistants like Siri.

If Apple could only improve Siri, its own voice assistant, the Watch and AirPods could combine to make something new: a mobile computer that is not tied to a huge screen, that lets you get stuff done on the go without the danger of being sucked in. Imagine if, instead of tapping endlessly on apps, you could just tell your AirPods, “Make me dinner reservations at 7” or “Check with my wife’s calendar to see when we can have a date night this week.”

That candy-colored rectangular glow is too seductive, a trap that leads into a ludic loop of distraction. It’s about time the tech heads, like car companies did with seat belts, are doing something to preserve our neurological safety.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of Discvr.blog and four books.