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Captology: Computers as Persuasive Technologies


In 1996, a behavior scientist at Stanford named B.J. Fogg was studying the potential to 'automate' persuasion. He termed this area of focus ‘captology’: the examination of the use of digital technologies and their design to intentionally manipulate humans' attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Considering the degree to which computers, smartphones and digital interfaces permeate our lives today, the concepts of both macrosuasion and microsuasion, as he defines them, pose existential threats to human society today.

 This session aims to develop a better understanding of captology and how technologies may be employed to influence our attitudes, beliefs and actions for economic, political or other gain. We will also discuss efforts to define mitigation strategies.

Instructor Biography

Jill Rasmussen is a retired insurance executive who is fascinated by history, cybersecurity and disinformation. She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia in economics and international relations; a master’s from Salve Regina University in cybersecurity; and is a Ph.D. candidate, with a dissertation focusing on disinformation and its uses in war and conflict. Jill has lived in Prague, CZ, which is the European headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. She has taught insurance, technology and ESL courses.

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