Building peace in the minds of men and women

Big Data and Mind Control: Insights from evolutionary psychology

When, local time: 
Wednesday, 16 January 2019 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm
Where: 
France, Paris
Type of Event: 
Special Event
Contact: 
s.tawil@unesco.org

Most educated people on the planet possess a computer and/or a smartphone connected to the internet. Large US-based corporations such as Facebook and Google provide free access in exchange for users' data. To maximize income from advertising, they must keep users engaged online as long as possible. User data are sold to brokers, mixed with other databases, and artificial intelligence algorithms personalize the content that users will then see. The clients of online media corporations may want to induce young people to make certain purchases, engage others in social media, or influence/manipulate voters through biased or fake data. How is it possible to "hijack" the minds of the world's citizens without their awareness or consent? Psychological research points the way. Certain aspects of memory and cognition originated in the remote evolutionary past of animals and unconscious. Unlike deliberate thinking, implicit memory is hidden, ineffable, and works very similarly across cultures. Mind control through this back door of human memory has significant ethical and policy implications, including for education.
Speaker: Dr Helen Abadzi, former World Bank expert and currently professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, has reviewed the psychological research that makes these new phenomena possible. She will present these findings and engage in a debate/discussion.