Letter from the editor – 43.23

To the amazing ML/LD community,


What do pigeons and humans have in common?

They both can be manipulated with intermittent reinforcement schedules.

So if you’ve ever studied or been interested in psychology most likely you would have heard of B F Skinner, essentially seen as the founder of behaviorism which loosely refutes the idea of “free will” and suggests that we merely behave based on reward/punishment systems.

Put simply, if we get a reward for doing something that behaviour is more likely to be repeated. In the absence of a reward or if we are punished for that behaviour, it is likely that behaviour will become extinct.

Here’s where it gets interesting >>>

Many experiments were designed to figure out what type of reward schedules were best at reducing the extinction of a behaviour. Experiments with pigeons found that if you trained them to get a reward when they pecked a lever there was a few different types of reward schedules you could create.

Long story short random (intermittent) reinforcement (rewards) schedules were the best at reducing extinctions.

The creators of slot/poker machines figured this out and use this (and many other techniques) to maximise players time and spend at a machine and knowingly create addictions.

Guess who else figured out the power of random reward schedules and has been using it for over a decade to get you and your children to spend more time on your phones?

Guess who’s getting sued (again) for using these sorts of techniques (and many many others) despite knowing their harmful effects?

I’ll give you a hint – 👍 :

” Meta has been harming our children and teens, cultivating addiction to boost corporate profits”

“Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage and ultimately ensnare youth and teens … Its motive is profit.”

We are in a transitional period similar to tobbaco, alcohol and gambling in which we want to protect our children, but in this scenarion we are unsure how and how to draw the line.


Thanks for being a subscriber, your subscription alone helps the More Life Less Device mission move forward every day.

And we fully get the irony that you are reading this on a device, We stand firmly as advocates of technology, believing that it can enrich our lives when approached with balance and intention. Our goal is to minimise the adverse effects of device overuse while celebrating technology’s immense potential.

Morgan McCarthy




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