Attention, Technology, and Creativity

In D. Graham Burnett & Justin E. H. Smith (eds.), Scenes of Attention: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry. Columbia University Press (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


An important topic in the ethics of technology is the extent to which recent digital technologies undermine user autonomy. Supporting evidence includes the fact that recent digital technologies are known to have an impact on attention, which balances "bottom-up" and "top-down" influences on cognition. As described in numerous papers, these technologies manipulate bottom-up influences through cognitive fluency, intermittent variable rewards, and other techniques, making them more attractive to the user. We further reason that recent digital technologies reduce the user’s ability to exert top-down attention due to the scale of the content—they provide far more content at a much faster pace than other technologies, which over time reweights the balance of attention in favor of bottom-up influences. After reviewing evidence for these effects, including their temporal duration, we consider their downstream effects on both autonomy and creativity. We find that while the impact of recent digital technologies on top-down attention may allow for more idea generation, that creativity also depends on control, which is undermined by these technologies. We are more circumspect with autonomy, reasoning that in certain cases it might not make sense to see user autonomy as harmed through these effects. We conclude with other ways that recent digital technologies may improve creativity, which may act as an offset to the detrimental impacts of these technologies.



External links

  • This entry has no external links. Add one.
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

6 Attention, Technology, and Creativity.Carolyn Dicey Jennings & Shadab Tabatabaeian - 2023 - In D. Graham Burnett & Justin E. H. Smith (eds.), Scenes of Attention: Essays on Mind, Time, and the Senses. Columbia University Press. pp. 124-141.
Digital Wellness and Persuasive Technologies.Laura Specker Sullivan & Peter Reiner - 2019 - Philosophy and Technology 34 (3):413-424.
Human Autonomy, Law, and Technology.Jennifer Chandler - 2010 - Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society 30 (1):3-3.
On the Duty to Be an Attention Ecologist.Tim Aylsworth & Clinton Castro - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (1):1-22.
Measuring Automated Influence: Between Empirical Evidence and Ethical Values.Daniel Susser & Vincent Grimaldi - forthcoming - Proceedings of the 2021 AAAI/ACM Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society.
Taming the Digital Behemoth.Oskar Gruenwald - 2020 - Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies 32 (1-2):1-16.


Added to PP

467 (#43,528)

6 months
175 (#19,094)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Carolyn Dicey Jennings
University of California, Merced

Citations of this work

Digital distraction, attention regulation, and inequality.Kaisa Kärki - 2024 - Philosophy and Technology 37 (8):1-21.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references