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Why tech addiction may soon need be on the CIO's radar

In a memorable episode of the British 1990s space sitcom Red Dwarf, the crew find themselves trapped inside an addictive computer game. The novel of the TV series covers this in more detail: Better Than Life takes over its players' cognitive reward systems, to the extent that most of them die as a result of ignoring their real-world needs.

At first glance this wouldn't appear to be of any concern to IT leaders in 2018, but recent events may change that. Facebook recently defended itself against accusations that it negatively influences people's behavior, including through potentially addictive methods. Also, two major Apple investors have been calling for the tech giant to do more to curb addiction to its phones amongst young people.

This unusual discord might have passed without too much fuss were it not for the response of another Apple shareholder, Ross Gerber. “We invest in things that are addictive,” said the chief executive of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management, who also invests in casinos and alcohol stocks. “Addictive things are very profitable.”

Myers-Briggs publisher, CPP, discusses why it doesn’t endorse ambiversion and how the typical CIO’s personality differs from the rest of the IT department. Check out: Do you have the personality of a CIO?

It's here that life becomes a little uncomfortable for purveyors of shiny, must-have, compelling new technology. One can picture Gerber's colleagues frantically hushing him while maintaining their fake smiles of reassurance for the cameras. "Yes, we all know that's true, but you're not supposed to actually say it!" The squeaky clean, socially responsible, wholesome image that technology firms strive to present doesn't sit comfortably alongside references to alcohol and other addictive products and services.

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Alex Cruickshank

Alex Cruickshank has been writing about technology and business since 1994. He has lived in various far-flung places around the world and is now based in Berlin.  

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