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SAMRISK-2-Samfunnssikkerhet og risiko

Salient Solutions: Responding ethically to the attention crisis

Alternative title: Salient Solutions: Etisk analyse og svar på oppmerksomhetskrisen

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Project Manager:

Project Number:

315373

Application Type:

Project Period:

2021 - 2026

Location:

Subject Fields:

At a time dominated by mass information and social media, questions about what we should attend to are central. Attention framing and misdirection threaten social trust and security; targeted campaigns to grab and manipulate attention can be used as political weapons; and the complex dynamics of the attention economy and social attention in online communities and social media are both difficult to understand and ethically challenging. The wrong distribution of attention can make common engagement and collective action impossible. Threats to normatively appropriate forms attention, in other words, are faced both by many individuals as well as by society as a whole. Salient Solutions tries to understand these threats and develop ethically acceptable ways of dealing with them. It develops philosophical, ethical, psychological and policy tools to respond to those problems facing our society. We draw on a novel conceptual framework in order to integrate knowledge about attention and its social dynamics and manipulation in philosophy of mind, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology, with a social psychology perspective, philosophical and economic modelling of rational choice and strategic interaction, central debates in moral and political philosophy, and in international policy. Through four interlocking perspectives, we study (1) state policies for managing attention and their political legitimacy; (2) the ethics of attention framing, attention nudges, commercialization and misdirection; (3) how norms shift between attending alone and attending together in the explanation of collective action; (4) the role of attention norms and attention sharing in shaping digital communities online. We develop guidelines for how to use, constrain, and apply attention to balance individual freedom and autonomy, democratic rights, and the public good. Our systematic and interdisciplinary investigation can serve as input for policy decisions and legal regulations. In the project, we are working closely with our international scientific advisory board as well as with Norwegian and local advocacy groups and other organizations. We are working both on scientific publications, more popular articles and opinion pieces, lectures both locally and internationally, and we regularly participate in interviews and discussion forums, both in person and online. In our work we compare the ethical issues regarding the attention economy to other cases, such as public policies about vaccination and climate change. We are working on democratic and ethical requirements on attention, both when it comes to ethical demands at the individual level, as well as demands on policy makers regarding the regulation of the attention economy.

At a time dominated by mass information and social media, questions about what we should attend to are central. Attention framing and misdirection threaten social trust and security; targeted campaigns to grab and manipulate attention can be used as political weapons; and the complex dynamics of the attention economy and social attention in online communities and social media are both difficult to understand and ethically challenging. The wrong distribution of attention can make common engagement and collective action impossible. Threats to normatively appropriate forms attention, in other words, are faced both by many individuals as well as by society as a whole. Salient Solutions tries to understand these threats and develop ethically acceptable ways of dealing with them. It will develop philosophical, ethical, psychological and policy tools to respond to those problems facing our society. We draw on a novel conceptual framework in order to integrate knowledge about attention and its social dynamics and manipulation in philosophy of mind, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology, with a social psychology perspective, philosophical and economic modelling of rational choice and strategic interaction, central debates in moral and political philosophy, and in international policy. Through four interlocking perspectives, we will study (1) state policies for managing attention and their political legitimacy; (2) the ethics of attention framing, attention nudges, and misdirection; (3) how norms shift between attending alone and attending together in the explanation of collective action; (4) the role of attention norms and attention sharing in shaping digital communities online. We will develop guidelines for how to use, constrain, and apply attention to balance individual freedom and autonomy, democratic rights, and the public good. Our systematic and interdisciplinary investigation can serve as input for policy decisions and legal regulations.

Activity:

SAMRISK-2-Samfunnssikkerhet og risiko