The first sign of a real slippery slope: “Strong affordances”, new powers the technology gives us
Clive: But you think sometimes there really are technological slippery slopes — tech that pushes us in a bad direction really strongly. How can you tell when we’re facing a real slippery slope technology? What makes that technology have such power?
Evan: You need to talk about affordances and incentives. What affordances does the technology have? And what incentives does it offer people?
Clive: What do you mean by “affordance?”
Evan: What I mean is the transaction costs of doing an activity. What transaction costs does the new technology diminish? What transaction cost does it impose? A gun, for example, radically diminishes the transaction costs for ending life almost effortlessly at a distance. A gun can’t force you to kill anybody. But it’s going to be predominantly used in ways that capitalize on its affordances.
Clive: Its affordances are focused towards sending a piece of metal really, really, really, really fast in one direction.