From Fitbit to HeadSpace to budgeting app Mint, technology is often billed as the solution to sticking to our New Year’s resolutions. With 80% of resolutions failing by February, the ability to track our exercise, food, weight, spending, and meditation habits at our fingertips seems like a no-brainer.
But is technology actually making it harder for us to stick to our goals? What if we are embracing the very mechanism responsible for sabotaging our good intentions?
Technology is highly addictive, by design. In a recent BBC investigation, a former Silicon Valley insider said social media companies were sprinkling “behavioral cocaine” over smartphone apps, adding features that deliberately keep us addicted. If not kept in check, using a smartphone app with the goal of sticking to your resolution may tempt you to do other things, such as checking your social media accounts instead. Read More »
Glen Urban, David Austin Professor in Marketing, Emeritus, and MIT Sloan School Dean, Emeritus
John R. Hauser, Kirin Professor of Marketing, MIT Sloan School of Management
From MIT Sloan Management Review
Deep learning is delivering impressive results in AI applications. Apple’s Siri, for example, translates the human voice into computer commands that allow iPhone owners to get answers to questions, send messages, and navigate their way to and from obscure locations. Automated driving enables people today to go hands-free on expressways, and it will eventually do the same on city streets. In biology, researchers are creating new molecules for DNA-based pharmaceuticals.
Given all this activity with deep learning, many wonder how the underlying methods will alter the future of marketing. To what extent will they help companies design profitable new products and services to meet the needs of customers?
The technology that underpins deep learning is becoming increasingly capable of analyzing big databases for patterns and insights. It isn’t difficult to imagine a day when companies will be able to integrate a wide array of databases to discern what consumers want with greater sophistication and analytic power and then leverage that information for market advantage. For example, it may not be long before consumers, identified via facial recognition technology while grocery shopping, receive individualized coupons based on their previous purchase behavior. In the future, advertisements may be individually designed to appeal to consumers with different personalities and be delivered in real time as they view YouTube. Deep learning might also be used to design products to meet consumers’ personal needs, which could then be produced and delivered through automated 3D printing systems.
Media Geddes, Media Relations Assistant, MIT Sloan School of Management
From South China Morning Post
In 1992, I was abandoned as a baby and found in a public place in Hefei, China. For almost two years, I lived in an orphanage and with a foster mother. Then my adoptive mother flew me to Sacramento, California, where I grew up.
My existence here in the United States is due to China’s infamous one-child policy, which was imposed for more than three decades before it was eased to a two-child policy in 2015. I am one of more than 90,000 children adopted from China and raised in the US between 1992 and 2018. About 40,000 other children went to families in the Netherlands, Spain and Britain.
In her devastating poem, One Art, Elizabeth Bishop writes of loss in a way I relate to. She describes misplacing stuff like keys and a watch, but also losing things a little less trivial: names and places; rivers, cities and continents; and finally, that mysterious “you”.
Bill Aulet, Managing Director, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice, MIT Sloan School of Management
When I first started as the managing director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship a decade ago, I thought my job was to help students create more and better startups. Fortunately, some wiser and more experienced faculty members reminded me that we were part of an educational institution. It made me think of the old adage that states, “It’s better to teach a man to fish than to give him a fish.” We wanted to teach our students not just how to launch single businesses—we wanted to teach them how to think like entrepreneurs.
As a result, we shifted our focus from creating companies to creating entrepreneurs. To that end, we developed programs for individuals we called the “ready-to-go entrepreneurs.” These are students who are determined to create their own standalone startups. As much as it pains me to say it, back then we were in fact creating people whom others might perceive to be like the characters in the television show “Silicon Valley”—except ours had a moral compass and were better at startup success!
In other words, we believed this group represented our own “beachhead market,” the term entrepreneurs use to describe the one market segment that has proven most open to their products or services. We believed the purpose of teaching entrepreneurship was to train students to build startups.
Erez Yoeli, research scientist at MIT’s Sloan School of Management
David Rand, Associate Professor of Management Science and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT Sloan School of Management
Nancy had been coughing for months. When she started experiencing chest pain, this bubbly mother of three and very proud grandmother went to see a doctor at her local clinic in Thika, about 20 miles northeast of Nairobi. He delivered a crushing diagnosis: She had contracted a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis. That was in June 2016.
For the next eight months, Nancy went to the clinic daily to receive an injection of a strong antibiotic and take a cocktail of 15 pills that were also antibiotics. She became so weakened by the disease and her medications that she couldn’t walk. Her children carried her to the clinic for her daily visits and provided constant support and encouragement, but she still felt she was alone — she wasn’t working, and her friends avoided her out of fear of being infected by the disease.
Nancy is one of roughly 10 million people worldwide who develop tuberculosis each year. Once on the decline, TB has again become the world’s deadliest infectious disease, killing nearly 2 million people a year, more than malaria and HIV combined.
The cause of TB’s resurgence is not medical; a highly effective though burdensome treatment has existed for the disease since the mid-1940s. Instead, the cause is mostly behavioral: Faced with the prospect of extended treatment and isolating stigma, many people are slow to seek treatment or quit partway through. This fuels the tuberculosis epidemic by giving the disease ample opportunities to spread and mutate into drug-resistant strains like the one that infected Nancy.
If the fuel is behavioral, then the solution should be as well.