The attention economy is one of the truly wicked and existential problems of our time.
Some of the world's most powerful supercomputers and algorithms are playing the game of human attention, optimizing for time-spend and ad-revenue, effectively out-engineering free will, replacing it with compulsivity and addiction.
This means that the human capacity for making conscious choices, for navigating our lives, for aligning our behavior with our aspirations is systematically undermined by persuasive technology.
This comes with all sorts of consequences — diminishing attention spans, addiction, mental health issues, polarization, loss of shared reality, ultimately the breakdown of the basis of a democratic society and our capacity for solving complex problems.
But most of us also have a more direct experience of this: It’s you, me, and our loved ones, being outplayed at the game of directing our own attention.
It’s catching ourselves scrolling Twitter for an hour. It’s snapping back into reality at the end of a YouTube rabbit hole. It’s being hypnotized by hyper-targeted entertainment and softporn on TikTok.
And it’s the weird sensation that comes with it. The creeping sense that we’re not up to the task of doing the things we truly want to do.
Attention is the only tool we have for crafting our lives. When we’re paying attention, we’re paying with possible futures of ourselves that are now gone.
The odds aren’t in our favor: Our monkey minds and paleolithic emotions are up against godlike technology offering us a constant stream of hyper-engaging content.
This is a really hard problem. The attention economy isn’t going anywhere. And with time it will get better and better at playing this game.
You, me, our loved ones, democracy — we all need a way out of this dilemma.
Whatever it is that we care about, we need technology that gives us the freedom to direct our attention towards what matters most.
We need technology that helps us be intentional.
The Inverse Function to the Attention Economy: Augmented Intentionality
We believe we need technology that’s on our team. We believe it is possible to build powerful technology that helps us direct our attention in ways that are aligned with our best interest.
Technology, that helps us do the things that make us more human, brilliant, creative — technology that makes us healthy and our lives meaningful.
It should support the life we want to live, not get in the way of it. When it comes to the game of human attention, it should be on our team. It should help us do our best and become better than we were last year.
We believe we can repurpose the principles of persuasive technology in service of augmenting human intentionality.
Our mission is to build persuasive technology that augments your intentionality and advances human development.
The degree to which you're able to align your attention and behavior with what you care about, is going to make the difference between a life well lived and a life wasted on cheap dopamine.
Despite five years of research and conceptualization, one year of prototyping, interviews, and thousands of iterations… This is day one.
Today, Potential gives you the best tools available to transform your phone into a tool for intentionality and behavior change.
A year from now, this will be supercharged with even more powerful integrations, recommendations, and social experiences. You’re not alone in the struggle of doing your best.
Five years from now, Potential will be powered by sophisticated AI that helps you do your best. Helping you find presence and wisdom. Helping you become the person you’re capable of being. Helping you build the life you truly want.
In the process, it will be of fundamental importance to ensure Potential can not be hijacked by perverse incentives:
From a value proposition designed around your best interest, to Attention Settings that give you transparency and control over how you’re being persuaded, from a fiduciary relationship to possibilities of decentralization:
We’ll do everything in our power to not just do the right thing, but to build a culture and systems to make that possible.
This starts with our business model: Potential is a premium product, and always will be. You’re the customer, not the product. We’ll never sell your attention or data.
With your subscription, feedback, and enthusiasm, you’re directly helping us build the inverse function to the attention economy.
We’re immensely grateful for your trust and support. We’ll do our best to make it worthwhile.