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217 Adam Alter: Irresistible

Irresistible examines the impact of technology addiction on society, exploring why we get hooked and what we can do about it.

Adam Alter: Irresistible


Adam Alter’s Irresistible provides a thought-provoking exploration of the impact of addictive technology on individuals and society as a whole. Drawing on research from psychology, sociology, and neuroscience, Alter delves into the reasons why we find technology so alluring and the effects it has on our brains, relationships, and well-being. He also explores the business practices of companies that create these products and the ethical questions that arise from their efforts to keep us hooked.


Title: Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

Author: Adam Alter

Publishing Year: 2017

Publisher: Penguin Press

Length in Hours: 8 hours and 17 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Technology addiction is a real phenomenon with significant impacts on individuals and society.
  2. The design of addictive technology is intentional and based on principles of behavioral psychology.
  3. The dopamine hit we get from technology reinforces addictive behaviors, creating a cycle that is difficult to break.
  4. Companies that create addictive technology often use manipulative tactics to keep users engaged, raising ethical concerns.
  5. There are steps individuals and society can take to break the cycle of technology addiction and create healthier relationships with technology.
Adam Alter: Irresistible

5 funny quotes

  1. “There’s a reason we call it an inbox and not an outbox.”
  2. “The future doesn’t look promising for people who make a living at horseshoeing or train repair. But, there’s hope for therapists and divorce attorneys.”
  3. “Sometimes when I’m reading a book on my iPad, I’ll accidentally touch the screen with my forehead and turn the page. That’s progress.”
  4. “Eating disorders are terrible, but at least they don’t charge you $10 a month.”
  5. “The early Internet was like the Wild West, and we’ve all been deputized.”

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. “The tools themselves are not addictive. It’s the behaviors they generate that addict.”
  2. “Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed.”
  3. “Our technology gives us both superpowers and addictions.”
  4. “The internet is the greatest instrument for instant gratification known to humankind. We crave it because it offers us something we crave more than anything else: certainty.”
  5. “We don’t make iPhones with a certain amount of battery life to make them better, but rather to make us better.”

5 dilemmas

  1. Balancing the benefits of technology with the risks of addiction and other negative impacts.
  2. Addressing the ethical concerns around the business practices of companies that create addictive technology.
  3. Identifying and addressing the root causes of technology addiction, such as loneliness or boredom.
  1. Addressing the impact of technology addiction on our relationships, mental health, and well-being.
  2. Balancing the need for innovation and progress with the need for responsible and ethical design.

5 examples

  1. Facebook's use of "likes" and notifications is intentionally designed to keep users engaged and addicted.
  2. Steve Jobs and Apple's design principles prioritized user experience and addictiveness.
  3. The rise of online gambling and the use of behavioral psychology to keep users playing.
  4. The design of slot machines and other gambling devices is intentionally addictive.
  5. The use of gamification in apps and other technology products to increase engagement and create addictive behaviors.

Referenced books

  1. "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" by Nir Eyal
  2. "The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains" by Nicholas Carr
  3. "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other" by Sherry Turkle
  4. "Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World" by Cal Newport
  5. "Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age" by Sherry Turkle

Share a quote

“Technology is seductive when what it offers meets our human vulnerabilities. And as it turns out, we are very vulnerable indeed.”

Adam Alter: Irresistible
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