Episode #211: The Rise of Tech Addiction with Adam Alter

Welcome to Future Squared for episode #211, our first guest interview of the year. I’m absolutely psyched to be bringing you Adam Alter.


Adam is an Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the author of Drunk Tank Pink, a New York Times bestseller about the forces that shape how we think, feel, and behave, and Irresistible, a book about the rise of tech addiction and what we should do about it.


Alter was recently included in the Poets and Quants “40 Most Outstanding Business School Professors under 40 in the World,” and has written for the New York Times, New Yorker, Wired, Washington Post, and The Atlantic, among other publications. He has shared his ideas at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and with dozens of companies around the world.


Alter received his Bachelor of Science with Honors in Psychology from the University of New South Wales and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Princeton University, where he held the Charlotte Elizabeth Procter Honorific Dissertation Fellowship and a Fellowship in the Woodrow Wilson Society of Scholars.


We cover a lot of ground in this episode but expect to learn:

  • How software companies are deliberately designing technology to exploit a vulnerability in human psychology
  • How big a problem tech addiction is and its impact on our productivity, mental wellbeing and experience of life
  • What practical steps we can take to counteract tech addiction and take back our time


This is one of those episodes that can raise the human consciousness and change your relationship with not only technology, but by virtue of that, the work you do and the people in your life so strap yourself in for an enlightening conversation with the one and only, Adam Alter.

Topics discussed:

  • How big a problem is tech addiction?
  • How much time people spend using their phone each day
  • Strategies software firms use to engineer addictive technology
  • The adverse impact on creativity and innovation
  • The mental implications of tech addiction
  • Children and tech
  • Why Silicon Valley executives don’t let their kids use tablets
  • What tech addiction means for productivity
  • How some companies are engineering their email servers to mitigate tech addiction and improve employee welfare
  • Why software companies are forced to do ‘whatever it takes’ to hit targets and meet investor and society’s definition of success
  • Why boredom is good for us
  • The instant gratification generation
  • How the window to combat this addiction is short as generational shifts take hold
  • What we can do to mitigate the adverse effects of technology in our lives and be its master rather than its slave


Show notes:

Adam’s website: www.adamalterauthor.com  

Adam’s Twitter: @adamleealter

Adam’s books: 

Adam’s TED talk: www.ted.com/talks/adam_alter_why_our_screens_make_us_less_happy

Our new Future Squared Facebook group: www.facebook.com/futuresquaredpodcast

Kevin Kelly on Future Squared: www.futuresquared.xyz/podcast/episode-161-kevin-kelly-on-the-inevitable

Bradley Stulberg on Future Squared: www.futuresquared.xyz/podcast/episode-175-peak-performance-with-brad-stulberg


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If you've got any questions on this podcast feel free to send an email to steve@collectivecamp.us or tweet me on Twitter @steveglaveski or @future_squared

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January 26, 2018




Steve Glaveski

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