A Bigger, Greedier Dog: Greed may be a solution to move towards Humane Technology

A very successful salesman once told me, “People buy for one of three reasons: need, greed or ego. People who need it can rarely afford it and people with big egos are a pain in the ass. I think you can figure out the rest.”

I just read Zucked by Roger McNamee and realized that the solutions he recommends are far too complex (compared to Facebook’s business model, for example) to effect rapid change and remembered the conversation mentioned previously.

Note: I am NOT saying that McNamee’s ideas are not worth pursuing.
BUT, if we want to change the playing field and give HT a chance, greed may be the solution.
Tech is a big industry but there is one that is bigger, and we need a bigger dog in the fight. More specifically, we need a bigger, greedier dog.

Imagine funding your 401k by surfing the internet. Every click sounds like “Cha-Ching!” Would you use that product?

Now, imagine Fidelity Investments (your 401k provider) as the fiduciary representative for your online data. $3.7 trillion dollars switched teams and are now on your side. Big dog meets bigger, greedier dog. Who’s gonna win that fight? scale vs SCALE.

Of course, the 401k product would require consumer protections–enter the politicians–but it would not be necessary to change big tech’s business model in order to alter the balance of power and restore it to a healthy equilibrium, where HT would have a chance.

Win. Win. Win. Win.

  • Consumers win.
  • Technology wins (okay, not the ones in Mcnamee’s book.)
  • Politicians win.
  • The greedy basta…I mean, bankers, on Wallstreet win, again.

We need a better product to beat the products we want to change. More to the point: we (as in I) need a financial product that currently does not exist.

PS. I bought the book two days ago and just finished it so I’ve been thinking about this for exactly two days and would love to hear from people with a more intelligent and informed view than is mine. :grinning:


This…is an interesting perspective. I like your style @Turkwrks :wink:. (Welcome to the Community by the way). Its a neat concept. My question is , what would the fiduciary representative be doing with said online data? Consumer protections → yes! This idea of a bigger dog is new to me and is making my gears turn. I love it. To get more informed about how data is used I highly, highly recommend Weapons of Math Destruction. Maybe that will help you flesh out this cool idea.

In the mean time, take a gander on the introductions page and add your own post! We would love to get to know you! :grinning: Outside of the ordinary/established thinking is what is going to push this movement forward!

Catch you on the flip side,


Michael Porter’s five forces that shape industries are: 1) Suppliers, 2) Buyers, 3) Threat of New Entrants, 4) Threat of Substitution, and 5) Competitive Rivalry. By developing a 401K product whereby the 401K Provider i.e. Fidelity Investments acts as the fiduciary representative for individuals and their online data, the forces of Supplier, Buyer, and the Threat of New Entrant pressure the market and open the door for HT.

Currently, there are billions of users that supply content to social media platforms. As individuals, they have virtually no power. With 401K providers acting as fiduciary for users the number of suppliers is reduced to the number of available 401k providers, roughly several dozen very large suppliers.

As the fiduciary representative, 401K providers 1) protect user data (asset), 2) invest user data (asset), and 3) charge users a management fee in addition to a fund’s normal investment activities. Like any other asset, the 401K provider wants to maximize ROI so seeks the best price for data.

As with current 401Ks, there is an annual election period for users to select what data they want to share and with whom they want to share it AKA opt-in. Theoretically, this further reduces supply, reducing buyer power and producing a premium return for users and 401k providers. Buyer pressure is an incentive for social media companies to improve their products i.e. HT.

Because 401Ks are regulated by the IRS, the Threat of New Entrant i.e. the government further alters the market, which also pressures companies to improve their products i.e. HT.

These three pressures–Supplier, Buyer, and Threat of New Entrant–create a fertile ground for HT. More importantly, users own their data and profit from its use, which is significant monetarily but also in making users understand its value and importance.

The basic business model for social media companies does not change. Advertisers buy ads from social media companies, but the revenue model does change. Value is redistributed to additional stakeholders: users and 401K providers. Monetary compensation for users would work similar to how radio stations pay artists royalties for using their music.

401K providers would require the ability to audit ad buys and corresponding data sets to determine royalties and compliance. Non-compliance would result in fines.

I think your proposal is intriguing. And as a mechanism for a) protecting user data and b) royalty-like remuneration, I like the fiduciary aspect.

I’ve got some questions.

Here’s how I understand most of the ad economy to work:
Social Media Search Corpo Inc. (SMSC) are the ones who record your data in the first place. From this they derive predictions about your preferences, and attempt to infer what you will respond to.


  1. Capitan Ahab Uses SMSC Platform =>
  2. SMSC records Ahab’s behavior =>
  3. SMSC automatically crunches and collates data =>
  4. SMSC guesses that Ahab is a 35 year old male boat-owning male with a moderate disposable income and harbors a dislike of all things related to large white-grey whales =>
  5. SMSC allows companies who want to buy ads to target an audience based on a) an age-range, b) gender, c) inferred disposable income amount (high, middle, low) and d) inferred preference towards large sea creatures.

Are you proposing that Phildelity, a 401K service provider, would fit into this model? And if so, where?Or are you targeting what we might call step number 6, where one’s demographic and preference data is sold through a broker of some sort?

As for how this might get implemented, it seems like requiring a 401k provider to be a middleperson would only be possible via legal policy. (I’ve proposed several recently myself). Is that how you see it? Alternatively, users could go on an “ad strike” where they pledge to not purchase any product they see advertised for a month or two unless the company allows them this option?

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Step 2. SMSC can NOT record Ahabs data without a royalty agreement with an investment fund that Ahab has elected via Phidelity.

Consider how 401ks work today. I’m no expert but my experience as a consumer based on my 401k is:

  1. I research 401ks and select a provider.
  2. I deposit money into my 401k
  3. I select funds and allocate my assets for the greatest return, for lowest risk, or to reflect my values ie green technology. These funds may or may not be Phidelity funds (not certain of this because being lazy I usually just “let it ride”. I could not tell you how my portfolio is allocated today if my life depended on it.)
  4. my 401k provider manages my investment by buying and selling shares into the funds I elect.
  5. the 401k provider collects a fee for its services
  6. I earn a return or a loss on my investment
  7. at the end of the year I either transfer my funds to another provider or reallocate my money to different funds.

Data or cash, the relationship between Ahab and Phidelity is the same with one important difference: Ahab’s initial investment in his data portfolio is $0.00 unless—and this is where it gets interesting—he thinks he’ll get a greater return in the data market than in the stock market, in which case he may choose to frontload his data account with cash. With a $0.00 first year investment though, he is essentially collecting a dividend that can be invested in subsequent years.

Enter individual funds…

New homeowner combined: social media, credit card, map, search, etc.
New homeowner social media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
New homeowner maps: high income zip codes
Etc. Etc.

Funds invest data with, for example Facebook, to get a percentage of ad revenue. This effects ad price to ad buyer—most likely making it more expensive but, because of more transparency, it’s worth a premium.

Funds compete on ROI, cost, social focus, etc. just like in the stock market today. New performance metrics may be required.

The fund takes its cut, Phidelity takes its cut, and the net profit/loss goes to the client’s 401k.

The value of user data will be determined by the individual user, some data will be worth more than other data because of socio demographics, user behavior, opt-in/fund allocation preferences, etc. I would expect the market to be volatile in the first year or two as valuations stabilize.

Is this a legal remedy? Probably, but SMSC could “donate” Ahab’s data to Ahab and get an accounting/tax benefit (need a tax attorney or SME from this area to determine a financial incentive for SMSC to voluntarily do this) but it’s possible. At some point, I think a legal determination that data is owned by the user is necessary, but it may not be the starting point for a transition.

There is probably a technical solution/mechanism for facilitating “usage rights” transfer (Ahab—Phidelity—Newhome owner fund) but that is way above my pay grade. The simplest solution or starting point may be an audit by either the fund manager or 401k provider to determine compliance and cash value or royalty due. It would be a bone crushing report, for sure, but Silicon Valley would have an app for that in about five minutes.

SMSC may realize that it is more advantageous/profitable to be in the data market than in the stock market or that its position in a combined market is stronger than in a single market so that might be an incentive as well.

The goal is to make participation by the end user easy and profitable without changing how they use technology. Until they decide to change the way they use technology. Lol

The government benefit is that its citizens are better prepared for retirement, which reduces the need/dependence on entitlements.

Redistribution of value.

Thanks for typing all of that up, it’s given me a much clearer picture of what you are envisioning.

It sounds like you want to be able to get a return on your investment in your own data, akin to, as you’ve said, a shareholder’s dividend. However that’s not how I understand royalties to work, because the company’s profits aren’t being remitted to the artist. Instead, for a royalty to be a royalty, a portion of an artist’s sales are sent back to them. As you are likely aware, what this means is that an artist can’t directly invest money in their own “royalty fund.”

Using the metaphor that social media users are akin to artists… One of the few ways a person could make their own ad-data more valuable would be to make their online browsing habits “more predictive” maybe through pledge to “follow through.” I.e. if they click “like” a certain product, they pledge to really think of that product the next time you go shopping, etc. (Alternatively, perhaps a person’s royalties could be “paid out” in terms of shares, assuming that the company in question is public? Or equity for a pre-IPO company?)

Monetarily speaking, one of the advantages of having a third-party broker, bound by fiduciary duty, could be that they’d have to be on the lookout for new customers to sell your data to, and thus increase your royalties. This might lead to the strange scenario where by you end up purchasing products you don’t need, just to keep your own data relatively “predictive” of your future behavior and thus valuable.

On the technical front… While a web-server could be made to return an assembled web-page without writing said action to a log (unless a royalty agreement was in place), the web-server will still have to know who the user in question is. Unlike browsing the NYTimes, for example, the web-pages that comprise social media platforms are highly, highly customized. There may be a way for a whole website to serve social media content without really recording anything, but, it would also be impossible for said company to improve, optimize or change their service. I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t see how that would fly.

All this being said, I think there is room for royalties, where the platform is the one who does the payment.

Hello and welcome. This is a really novel proposal thank you.

Unfortunately I’m afraid this seems like a complicated artificial arrangement that likely wouldn’t work. The best interest of people would be to have their information kept completely private. Also selling information about people wouldn’t be worth that much, because everyone is already selling our information to everyone. You can probably buy private information about millions of people if you want to, just show a little cash. Also the tech system currently runs on surveillance, attention and misdirection as currency, there is no way to disrupt that system completely as selling surveillance, attention and misdirection is built into almost everything at the very core and is even the reason why much of tech was created in the first place. Creating another system would just add another system on top of all the other bad systems which would still remain.

Currently both tech and finance work against people for their own bad interests. Finance companies are scam operations just like tech companies, they seem to be working for people but actually direct them toward high fees and other bad decisions. Tech companies pretend to be the friends of people but then their entire systems from the OS to devices to services to apps are designed to take advantage of people, destroying human dignity and privacy for profit by the richest of the rich in the world. Many elaborate and massive, addictive and deceiving scams. Put the two sides together, things get even more confusing for people and the opportunities for scams multiply.

Also this seems a bit similar to the concept of accelerationism, something which is a dangerous idea for the most part save the niche cases of accelerating human and social progress.

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Thanks for the feedback. It is not a shareholder dividend but a payment based on a license to use an individual’s data (bundled with the funds other user data). The social media platform is the radio station. The fund is the record company and the user is the artist.
As per investing, one must imagine an entirely new market like gold or silver. If one wants to buy gold they use cash. A data market would operate the same. Remember, it’s not my personal data that I’m investing in but a or several funds where I’m purchasing a fractional interest or shares.

Thank you for your comments. I can’t say that I disagree with anything you say except the presumption that the present has any baring on the future. Something is “pie in the sky” until it isn’t. Yes, finance and tech are cut from the same cloth, which—ironically—is why it could work NOT why it won’t work. They share a singular focus on the bottom line. Everything else is just noise. If there were a way for them to make more money AND lower the risk of an unfavorable government intervention or a user revolt, the technical challenges and market for unlicensed data could be addressed.
Gordon Gekko (wallstreet) said, “Greed is good.” I don’t know about that, but it is a strong motivator. If Joe Public can use that motivation to get ownership of his data and improve the quality of his life…it’s apple pie.

What are your thoughts on empathy as a solution?

Would you sell out your own privacy? And if so, why would anybody buy when they can continue to stalk you for free? Anyone can buy surveillance information about you and me for pennies from numerous parties, would they even bother to ask us if we want to sell everything about ourselves out for a shiny penny too?

If my online postings had any value, then why hasn’t anybody offered me money for them. Surely if I took them offline and no longer made them free, they would be missed so much that someone would offer me money for them?

I’ve been posting online mostly to make my friends jealous. Every day it’s multiple photoshopped pictures of my beautiful face in expensive-looking places that I visit just long enough to take a few photos of myself. Yes my face is really worth a million bucks. Then I say such clever things, but mostly to make my friends jealous. Not that I have any real friends, but according to the social networks I have hundreds. I’m happy to have more friends that really could care less about me, but what makes me upset is that my invaluable posts and selfies are being used by evil capitalist corporation for their own profit. If only I got a lawyer or some financial corporation (could be the same company which exists to trick me into paying high fees for my retirement account) to get back all the money they’ve stolen from me.

Also I’ve spent 5 thousand hours online writing posts, and median pay (plus benefits) for someone in my age group and education level is US $50 per hour. Somebody out there owes me $250,000.

Well hello! I just joined this community and wasn’t sure where or how to introduce myself - but this post not only caught my eye, it mirrors what we’ve designed and piloted, a system that can do just what you describe!

So…that made me really want to say hello to you.

Gosh I hope this isn’t obnoxious, I hope this will complement your viewpoint.

Our view is there are a few core design flaws in ad technology, and these flaws also represent the opportunity to create something close to what you are asking for. it’s remarkably simple to do considering.

I can confirm that the internet user can easily be turned from a “product” and into a “partner”, and actually fulfil the missing equation on the internet, resolving a few core problems that Roger mentions in his book.

While I agree that data is valuable, and in principle users should be compensated in some way, placing the value on the data itself and somehow having that work within the current media buying marketplace might be too complex for remittance to users, or too vague to measure a value that could be bid on by brands in a way that they are already familiar with.

While it appears to be a data economy, it really isn’t from my perspective. I believe data is sort of like the strawman value. What I mean by that is the real value is in human attention.

The internet has the opportunity to turn the attention economy into a sharing economy, like AirBnb or Lyft.

What’s happened with third-party ad networks, google, facebook, etc is that they have devalued users attention, and inflated value of user data because that is where they can be competitive, and play arbitrage, apply yield optimization, and maximize performance to data collected.

That was the core design flaw, from my perspective, devaluing attention, devaluing real estate value that attracts attention, while overvaluing data.

It is even debatable if data targeting as used in marketing and advertising is really the value at all, as the value is coming from the incredibly large reach of Facebook and Google. They have so many users that they can waste the attention of thousands and thousands of internet users just to find that one user who responds and then charge the advertiser accordingly.

We propose a platform and architecture that I like to think of as a “peaceful ambush” of the third party ad tech eco system.

a: provides internet users with technology that allows them to partner with websites and apps and serve sponsored media peer to peer. This means internet users can replace the third party, which means third party ad margins can be moved to internet users instead of the usual suspects.

b: quantifies the value of five seconds of users attention, and creates a revenue share between internet users, publishers and advertisers without applying a “reward media” product. Users still opt in or opt out of ads they dont want, they are compensated either way.

c: gives internet users the ability to store, sell, or trade the value of their attention as a true digital asset.

d: surgical contextual targeting, no user data even required.

e: provides web publishers with powerful tools that give them 100% audience reach for content or affiliate messaging and premium products which guarantee viewability. Allows publishers to monetize their Facebook audiences too. Gives them heaps of new media products that allows them to compete in new media markets previously unavailable to them.

This was just a superficial review of our platform, there are many playful and fun economic models to apply to such a marketplace, with crowdfunding, direct action, 401k building, etc etc as internet users pool the value of their attention that continually grows in value each day with each new replenishing daily crop of attention.

Publishers make more money, users become the resolving partners in the ecosystem, receiving compensation and opportunities, brands develop “non-toxic” relationships with internet users because essentially, brands are “funding” the sharing economy of all internet users, who trade with content creators and voila. win win win.

I really look forward to sharing this with the community, much more to come!

Rome Viharo

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I think his core assumption is correct, just slightly faulted on the data pathway to where he wants to get. it’s just not necessary to put the value on the data which is too complex, and return the value to users attention, which is what brands want anyway, they really dont care about data. Under those terms, everything else he proposes is 100% in accordance to what we’ve been working on.

What are your thoughts on empathy as a solution?

I hope you don’t mind if I address this, because it is very important. I believe in the model OP is proposing is in another set of problems, and empathy is in social media interaction, engagement, etc.

Essentially, what he is hinting at is that inherently, internet users have value, and in principle, that value is producing over $100B in the US alone per year, and that perhaps that value can be returned to users in some form.

He is tackling a toxic economic model (digital advertising).

Creating empathy on the internet is also equally important, here I believe solutions that require more resolving consensus building (instead of relying on voting algorithms) will address that.

However, a problem that we also have to accept is that some psychological types are not capable of social empathy, even if they have good intentions.

I believe algorithms that prevent misunderstanding can help empathy work on the internet, instead of being suppressed in the toxic social media environment we have today.

I think some of the issues you raise are really just exploitations of the voting algorithm. I think community curation could evolve a more sophisticated filtering system than “thumbs up or down”.

Welcome to the community @NSaikiwiki! I’m glad that you’re looking for solutions to further the cause of humane technology. I hope you’ll find many of the answers you’re looking for by searching many of the past posts in this forum.

I found your post inspiring and hopefully it will work out. But what about the complexity and how to put it all into action?

I’m also worried about the numbers. Yes technically speaking there is a good money made from each person on the internet, especially from rich countries. My theory is that this part of the tech industry is built off of three things:

  1. surveillance
  2. attention
  3. misdirection

My theory also states that each of these thing is bad and is undesirable by any person. Therefore in a humane world would choose not to have any surveillance or misdirection, and not to have their attention taken away from them by addictive or persuasive content.

Your solution seems possibly workable because it doesn’t rely on surveillance, there is no tracking. (But how to guarantee people they’re not being tracked, when most technology these days including third party components include tracking automatically?) However lets face the facts that without surveillance, revenues will be lower and it will also be harder to prove a person really is a real person.

Since you focus on attention, let’s look at that. In a system where users are treated with respect, their attention is not to be abused and they end up spending less time online.

Ok now they’re online. How do those big tech companies make most of their money? It’s misdirection. Sending people to places they don’t want to go, very often to bad places. Or to sending them to the place they want to go, but taking away a slice via advertising. In your system there is no misdirection I hope, so now the ad revenue drops. Without any misdirection, theoretically in a perfect system of information advertisers would be willing to pay zero since publishers would always be showing people what is in their own best interests anyway.

Another problem is that in an ideal world, people would only see content that helps them flourish. Ads and sponsored content, like social media or even the regular media, actually work against people for their own gain.

So yes as Roger McNamee points out in a very capitalistic mindset, companies do extract tremendous amounts of money from people via online advertising. And as you point out that money is huge, but it could in a sense be made more humane and some of it sent back to people and maybe app and web publishers.

But in your proposal, would people allow themselves to have their attention taken advantage of and allow themselves to be misdirected, and they get a share of it back themselves? So in other words commit self-harm because they get a smaller portion of the harm they have committed against themselves back as money?

Yes your proposal is an improvement to the current system and that is welcome. In fact it seems similar to how many mature businesses already work, there are already many schemes, coupons, loyalty programs, and other marketing gimmicks to get consumers to buy more, consume more, view more media. That is both good and bad. But really are you just proposing that publishers share some of their revenue with viewers in exchange for attention?

Hi @Free, and good morning! thanks for the thoughtful reply. by “surveillance”, I assume you mean targeting, re-targeting, re-messaging, tracking, etc?

Online advertising is a rich and complex space. “Misdirection” I suppose would be another way to label what we call “click bait”.

I’m keen on collaborative and mutually resolving solutions. So when it comes to advertising, we have to look at three sets of players

  1. Internet users
  2. Website publishers/content creators
  3. Brands/advertisers

All three of them already hate digital ad tech, fyi, no one really likes the system it abuses all parties to some degree or another. We want all of them to “win” in the ecosystem.

So first we have to separate advertising as it’s own “necessary evil” in society. Personally, I hate advertising, who likes it at all?

So the solution I believe takes what users believe is a fair exchange (we limit it to five seconds) and define that value of five seconds relative to the publisher they are on.

Users own the full value of their attention, not the publisher, and that value for five seconds (let’s say it’s .01 for :05 seconds), not the publisher/content creator. The user just trades the lion share with the publisher in exchange to access free content. The user retains (keeps) a portion of that revenue, but that is not the only place the user earns. Users also become the distribution network itself, so they make additional revenue when their phones or devices serve sponsored media peer to peer with websites or apps.

Also, since this is transacted from the phone, I am proud to say that our technology will encourage people to put their devices DOWN, since when they put them down, they serve sponsored media, and make revenue.

The entire ecosystem of attention is managed by the collective of users through our technology, and those users trade that value with content creators and keep some of it themselves.

If users 100% absolutely hate all advertising and think all advertising is inherently evil, they probably wont like this either, but that is a small number of users.

Such a network continually educates internet users to their value and role in the broader ecosystem.

Also, this is real value, and that value can also increase in value over time.

Yes sorry I didn’t go into more detail but I write too much already. Surveillance as is the “surveillance economy”, businesses use other words to describe these things to mask the harm they do. Yes tracking, nothing we do online is private despite people’s false sense of security. Surveillance is built into operating systems, so even if you have say an Android phone with no software installed, and even if you change all the purposefully cryptic settings to be as private as possible, you will see the system is still tracking you, sending information about what you are doing to Google and other companies such as Baidu, governments including the US and possible China depending on the make of your phone. People are so naïve, the truth is that Google created “free” Android to be able to better spy on people for its own gain.

The same is true for other systems, programs and services that together comprise “our” technology. The issue is that it is no longer “our” technology even though we pay for it. We are paying to subsidise companies taking advantage of us. In addition there are other methods of surveillance taken by governments but no time to discuss everything here.

People are unaware that the tech system is now solidly built upon not just surveillance but also attention and misdirection, and those are the hidden currencies that power the system and allow rich companies to mine innocent people.

Misdirection is the just the term I’ve been using myself to describe any kind of so-called “sponsored content” such as advertising. Again I think people are naïve to the negative effects of advertising. In my theory it is assumed that advertising is bad, because most or almost all advertising is. It is manipulation of course, stealing innocent people’s most valuable resources which are our time, health and money for the benefit of the rich. It is often scamming, most often misdirection which is why I use the latter term. I would never say it’s evil, just bad. Undesirable.

I know there are other theories about ads. In the past there have been theories that ads provide valuable information to we the people (which the inhumane disgustingly refer to as “consumers”). However given that we have info tech these days the need for “advertising as information” is now much lower. Another theory is that advertising is free speech, I agree with this and that advertising should be protected. However I believe advertising should be restricted and regulated, much, much, much more.

Based on the enlightenment that almost all ads are bad, we should treat all ads as being bad just to be on the safe side. Even if they are for a paid museum exhibition, which I would argue is also manipulation by the rich. When we view all surveillance, attention and misdirection as harms to people, we get a better picture of the true nature of society. We can use this knowledge not just to live better ourselves, but to change the system, to change the dialogue from one of ignorance and acceptance to one where we make better decisions as people, in politics and through nonprofits which exist naturally to fight against these manipulations.

Let’s not forget that we are slaves of the mind, from birth to death, manipulated for the gain of the rich through this system of surveillance, attention and misdirection. Tech has accelerated and magnified this manipulation by the rich, and has also made it more complex and therefore more difficult to understand. However the issue is the same. Just as people in the rallied against tzars, rallied against human slavery, rallied against segregation and for rights, so too will people soon rally against complex manipulation by the rich. Because anyone who wants to can see that manipulations are a bad thing, and that a high level of manipulation is not necessary for either the economy or society to function, in fact high manipulation is very harmful to both.

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One of my favorite SNL sketches from back in the day, Al Franken. “it is easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world”.

It appears that it is highly highly highly unlikely that we can have a world without advertising and awareness marketing. Its actually one of the oldest human “services” as in “going to market” is essential in any community.

And, paradoxically, to engineer such a world in which advertising is vacant would require such a large global consensus across so many disparate stakeholders that one would need to have the most brilliant advertising campaign that would create enough consensus to remove advertising itself.

No one likes it, yet if you had your own business, you would require it. Heck, one of the main issues that CHT is facing right now is awareness building. For all sakes and purposes, that is advertising.

So I believe that we can have a healthy relationship with advertising, and make it work in ways that have the potential to astound us.

My thought leader is Bucky Fuller, his design philosophy was to “work with forces, not against them” so finding a non toxic approach to advertising seems like the easiest pathway to resolution and adoption.

Consider, an attention economy where individuals own their attention and are compensated for it provides a true “non zero sum” financial economic system, a crop that replenishes itself every day. What other resource can we say that about? That’s lots of resource and natural forces to design and play with in terms of economic and business models - things that can actually resolve real world problems.

I think what gives advertising such a bad rap are two things

  1. We inherently feel “robbed” by it, even if we are getting free content for it. It feels like we are “forced” into something that technically we are not “opting into” on our own accord. (this is the “toxic” relationship, I believe this is easily resolved into a resolving relationship with users and brands with a true attention economy model)

  2. Predatorial capitalism. Advertising is just a tool, one of many, for businesses that engage in predatorial capitalism. Predatorial capitalism is any business model that depends upon the stress or exploitation of its customers as their revenue model.

So many criticisms of advertising, even technology, I believe are (valid) criticisms of predatorial capitalism and technology is somewhat exposing this shadow side of our economics, reflecting back to us the “unintended consequences” of our economic system.

I believe we need to tease these layers apart, distinguish them, and apply healthy design philosophy to each layer. If we look at the whole system and approach from this holistic perspective, there will not be any “unintended consequences” because the solution is derived from within the whole system, all of the parts, not one part competing or pushing back against another part.

That make sense?

I actually never said I was for getting rid of advertising.

I would ideally have a system where every ad is recorded and this information is made public in a universal database, including who is paying for it, all the middle people and who is final source of the money as well as exactly how the ad was targeted. Fully open, a requirement by law. Then once we see all the scams and manipulation, we will have hard numbers on so many scams and misdirections that it will be very hard not to act to protect people or to point fingers at wrongdoers.

If this is just the shadow side of the economy, then why are some of the biggest companies of the world such as Google and Facebook involved in predatory capitalism for 90% of their revenue?

You speak of unintended consequences. But actually please note that exploitation is the intended design of the system, a system designed and controlled by the rich for their own gain though exploiting all people. If we as ordinary people have some nice things, in the current system we are given just enough so we don’t revolt, so that we continue to slave for the gain of our rich masters (visible and hidden) and so we continue to overspend and be scammed by the rich.

Let’s not pretend anymore or continue to be naïve. I know it’s hard to cut through all the propaganda and delusional ideals of society that we’ve endured all our lives, but this is the true system as it is, we are controlled by the rich to the maximum practical extent and exist simply to enrich them.

Actually I do have my own business. I make money by misdirecting people to suboptimal places on the web, while also surveilling their web behaviour. Since I run ads, this happens automatically and given the current ad system there is no good alternative. So actually I make a living by misdirecting people though ads to bad things such as being scammed in multiple ways. And there is nothing I can do to stop that because if I were to only direct people to the best places I would not make any money and would not be able to provide a good free service. I already run the highest quality ads that are available to me and work with the highest quality affiliate schemes. I am in the business not just for money, but also knowing that I am more ethical and provide a better product than all my other small direct competitors so am actually creating an improvement over the rest (but of course I can’t complete with mid- and large- companies in the same area.) In the case of ads, on the internet highest quality means scam advertising mixed in with typical big company ads, the same type of unethical ads you might find on Google and Facebook.

The issue I have is that people are not a crop to be harvested. Humane tech is about making people bloom and flourish. For that to happen it has to be nonprofit, Wikipedia is a good example. There are many threads in this forums about the many harms of the attention economy.

If you can do that then great, but it sounds like it would be for the financial gain of whoever is making this new scheme. I am sceptical unless I could see more benefits for people (you’ve been very thin there), numbers showing why both publishers and advertisers would (or wouldn’t) actually use this new system, and more about the practicality (or lack thereof) of actually launching it. Schemes such as paying people to watch ads or receive promotions already exist, and are not considered humane tech.

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Thanks for keeping this discussing going and for your thoughtful replies. Apologies if I misunderstood your relationship to advertising, but I think we agree then yes? Having a non-toxic environment for advertising would be an engineerable and preferred solution.

I would ideally have a system where every ad is recorded and this information is made public in a universal database, including who is paying for it, all the middle people and who is final source of the money as well as exactly how the ad was targeted. Fully open, a requirement by law. Then once we see all the scams and manipulation, we will have hard numbers on so many scams and misdirections that it will be very hard not to act to protect people or to point fingers at wrongdoers.

Our current platform’s design scope has much of what you’re citing included, with some exceptions. There are lots of forces working against a system strictly as you suggest. One, major brands, who are the ones spending the largest dollars, don’t want to reveal to their competitors their reach or targets. Additionally, it depends upon what you mean by “targeting”. Targeting audiences by demographics, location, sex, age, interests are all old hat in advertising, but historically it has been more contextual based, instead of identity-based.

Digital ad tech creates lots of opportunities for bad economic actors, selling BS diet fads or the like. But lots of business is simply just honest advertising. Forcing a level of transparency or two, and then getting regulation to support that might be quite an uphill battle.

Also, most of the manipulations happening in ad tech are not coming from the advertisers themselves, but from some content publishers, or third party ad networks. In the case of political or agenda media operations, yes, data targeting on Facebook is a problem, but that problem in advertising is limited to specific social media platforms.

Clickbait is pure third party manipulations, and publisher generated. To control that would impede upon free speech.

I’m wondering if you and I can build a consensus around a core feature of (digital) advertising that would naturally correct a few of the issues you raise?

I would suggest the majority of those issues are simply resolved by removing a third party network altogether.

If this is just the shadow side of the economy, then why are some of the biggest companies of the world such as Google and Facebook involved in predatory capitalism for 90% of their revenue?

I’m not sure there is a contradiction there like you suggest. Google and Facebook and all third parties apply yield optimization and arbitrage. Drive the cost of supply down to as low to free as you can get it, and upcharge the demand to maximize the margin. Digital advertising is the embodiment of the dark side of capitalism.

You speak of unintended consequences. But actually please note that exploitation is the intended design of the system, a system designed and controlled by the rich for their own gain though exploiting all people. If we as ordinary people have some nice things, in the current system we are given just enough so we don’t revolt, so that we continue to slave for the gain of our rich masters (visible and hidden) and so we continue to overspend and be scammed by the rich.

I believe that is a valid criticism of capitalism. Any system that does not have any type of applied holistic planning, economic or otherwise, is like to have unintended consequences from my perspective.

Let’s not pretend anymore or continue to be naïve. I know it’s hard to cut through all the propaganda and delusional ideals of society that we’ve endured all our lives, but this is the true system a system where we are controlled by the rich and exist simply to enrich them.

I believe having a discussion about the dark side of capitalism is healthy, but at the end of the day, with the amount of problems we are facing in the world, we are going to have to learn how to build a consensus with everyone.

Rich people can help just as much as they can hurt. Plus, we need their funding :sweat_smile:

Actually I do have my own business. I make money by misdirecting people to suboptimal places on the web, while also surveilling their web behaviour. Since I run ads, this happens automatically and given the current ad system there is no good current alternative.

:joy::joy::joy: No wonder you hate advertising, I hear you brother!

Are you an online publisher? If so our platform has a solution for you depending on what type of publisher you are. Are you a third party vendor?

So actually I make a living by misdirecting people though ads to bad things such as being scammed in multiple ways.

Affiliate marketing stuff?

And there is nothing I can do to stop that unless I want to make no money, because if I were to only direct people to the best places I would not make any money.

A perfect summary of the toxic digital ad tech ecosystem. The plight of most publishers and third party vendors.

I already run the highest quality ads that are available to me and work with the highest quality affiliate schemes. In the case of ads, on the internet highest quality means scam advertising mixed in with typical big company ads, the same type of unethical misdirecting ads you might find on Google and Facebook.

Ahh, affiliate it is. Yup, I agree that is some of the worst sludge advertising on the internet, and now that I understand your background, I see more your concerns with advertisement.

So you probably know how cheap you can get your CPC through Facebook, which did wonders for affiliate marketers in terms of supply, which allowed a margin for affiliate marketers to capitalize on, and your probably aware there are creators of products that feed on the reactivity of users to things like diet fads or skin creams.

You’re able to get away with this because Google and Facebook completely devalued individual attention and focused on data.

The issue I have is that people are not a crop to be harvested. Humane tech is about making people bloom and flourish. For that to happen it has to be nonprofit. Look at Wikipedia. There are many threads in this forums about the many harms of the attention economy.

Attention is harvested every day, users just don’t get any of that value back. I’m asking to imagine that resource being redirected through a user sharing economy model, we’re we all have access to the resources of this natural crop every single day.

If Humane Tech is only limiting itself to non-profit models, then ultimately it will solve no problems, because the problems exist MORE in the profit models.

I think what your seeking to obtain is a more utilitarian system, no?

Also, Wikipedia has a host of problems which in some ways are worse the FB. MediaWiki’s are a significant issue in online targeting, harassment. Wikipedia is easily abused by agenda operatives. Media Wiki creates competition amongst its users. Oye don’t get me started on that one! But its a different problem set.

If you can do that then great, but it sounds like it would be for the financial gain of whoever is making this new scheme.

Financial gain would be expected in any successful endeavour, but you would be mistaken if you think that we’ve designed this system just as a new way to make money. In principle, we’re actually taking margin a third party would make and assign that to internet users instead.

I am sceptical unless you present more benefits for people from your system (you’ve been very thin there).

Hmmm, benefits include redirecting advertising revenue to internet users and content creators without the requirement for data targeting or tracking, removing third-party networks and replacing them with internet users for distribution and verification, and literally converting the value of users attention and participation into a bank account or an asset that is easily traded on the web.

Those benefits address virtually every single problem in ad tech.

and you also present numbers showing why publishers and advertisers would actually use your system.

I assume you meant “no numbers why”, and correct, I haven’t even presented this yet to the community but plan to absolutely.

But to answer your question:

Our system gives brands premium products and addresses their problems too. We provide 100% channel control, 100% guaranteed viewability, premium audiences, surgical contextual targeting for less than what they are paying now for premium products, amongst other things.

For content creators/publishers we give them a new set of products and tools that pay them much higher CPMS, give them 100% audience reach, and helps them monetize their audiences on Facebook.

While we can do this without competing with their ad networks, our goal is to show them that they can lose their ad networks altogether and just use the more profitable and user-friendly alternative.

And finally the practicality of it. Pay to watch ads or get offers schemes already exist. They are not considered humane tech.

No one is paid to watch ads in our system, users can opt in or opt out, compensation is the same, they are not rewarded for ad interaction, so please do not confuse our system for reward media, that is not what it is.

Additionally, our system will give users an app that incentivizes them to PUT THEIR DEVICES DOWN, not pick them up. I believe our system will be of great help to the publishing industry, and believe it can potentially save high quality publishers.

Our system provides an ecosystem where the internet user is the partner, not the product.

I believe that is a humane approach to a toxic system, and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks for sharing, cheers!

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In my view, the effect of most ads is negative. So therefore most ads are bad. Sure some are much worse than others. But to say there are just a few bad actors misses the picture that so much of what advertising does is bad that we can practically consider all advertising to be bad for the purposes of simplification.

Let me give you an example of the type of ad that is most people think is not harmful. This ad simply shows the name brand logo of a company X which produces normal useful products such as clothes or food. How is that harmful? It creates desire for brand X and the next time the shopper goes to the store and sees two identical products made by X and Y they might be more likely to buy X even though they are identical. So you see even the most innocent ad is twisting people’s minds to make irrational decisions that are against their own best interest. So isn’t that “bad economic actor”, because no value is created by the ad, competition is reduced and there is wasted economic effort to create the ad which is both completely worthless and also harmful to society.

I could give dozens of examples covering all the different kids of ads, even ads by nonprofits and how they are almost always bad. The negatives include jealously, feelings of inadequacy, depression, wasted time and money, manipulations small and large, etc. I hope that I am understood? Do you agree?

We’ve extensively discussed the attention economy in this community. Yes clickbait is an extreme form of attention grabbing, but at least it is often obvious to most people. But most media, from social media, to news, from the education sector to the entertainment sector, etc. are heavily manipulating attention. And often it is invisible, which means the people being manipulated are not even aware of it. The more we think about it, the more we can see that everyone wants our attention. Example, social media is a fantasy world. Even the news is an alternate reality somewhat based off of reality. The reason they are fake is that these things are designed for attention, not for truth or reality.

Yes! Also I’m glad to hear you’re on the same level regarding the negative effects of business.

Yes publisher. Revenue is split between ads and one affiliate program.

The ads are of the highest quality that I can get, Google. I have turned down Amazon and District M among others because their quality is even lower than Google. When I said I was misdirecting people that was referring to the Google ads misdirecting people and also scamming people in multiple ways.

I have spoken with Google that I do not want certain types of scam ads such as dangerous adware toolbars, but it is obvious to me that they are purposefully allowing this malvertising and are actually enabling things to make it impossible to block. I have pointed out that it is clearly against their own rules against “potentially” unwanted programs, and they just ignore it. The fact that they call them “potentially” unwanted programs rather than scams just goes to demonstrate they just don’t care. I assume this Google scam is just to increase Google’s profits, in a way that is unlikely to attract much criticism.

The affiliate program I use is from a good, small company. They send people to major companies, the ones they would probably buy from anyway. But you have to understand that is bad. Because if I were being good and honest to people, I would be giving people my own good advice of where are the best places to buy. So say people pay 10% more because they buy from advertised company. You see there is a negative price to advertising. This is what I mean by misdirection. It is never good, and always bad.

The best thing we could do for people is to not show them the ads at all, and instead give them good advice instead of misdirection, not grab people’s attention but instead leave them in peace.

But as you suggest if there is another way compared to the current system, that could potentially still be an improvement.

It’s not limited to non-profits at all. The initial focus has been on for-profits. But they have no motivation to change. There is also the concern that some ethical products really have the end goals of profit for themselves, examples are all over such as Brave browser and “ethical” blockchain so-called-“currencies”.

No I’m sure that financial gain wouldn’t be expected in any successful endeavour. I don’t get any financial gain from this Community for example.

There are other alternatives for getting a living such as having a salary as a manager at a nonprofit.

The shifting around of revenue could be interesting, but there needs to be scale. Almost all advertising in the US is controlled by Google and Facebook. The rest by other big companies. What is left is small, and once you make those ads ethical and non-tracking, there is almost nothing left.

Also on the people side you also need to get the impossible scale where a large portion of the internet population is signed up for this program, since it only works for people who are signed up.

So then multiply the percentage of people signed up times the percentage of ad impressions on sites that are signed up times the revenue being lower since it is humane and that is a very very small number. Then split that again between you the middleman, people and the publishers.

Brave tried something similar, but as far as I can tell it is a 100% scam just to get people interested in their browser where they can misdirect people, and to scam people a worthless so-called-“currency”. And Brave is a total scam, isn’t that even worse than what Google and Facebook are doing?

I don’t think your proposal is meant to be as bad as the scam Brave. But if it goes badly, what’s to stop it from turning into just another “humane tech” swindle? After all I think due to the scale issue it’s not possible. The only thing that in my opinion is possible is some kind of “humane tech” scam. And I do not mean to offend you, because I believe you are in it for good. But this is just my analysis of what would happen a few steps ahead in this game of chess.