Software engineers are indoctrinated to believe: "People only hate ads when they aren't relevant." This doctrine has led to over 20 years of mass data collection. It's a lie, and if more engineers dared to question it, we'd get a lot further on .

@kylerankin I'm encouraged by the new emphasis on ethics in engineering and how many engineers are starting to speak up (or vote with their feet) when companies order them to build unethical machines.

I certainly went through this indoctrination. I do think it's true that people prefer more relevant ads and find them less annoying or not annoying at all. The problem is the surveillance necessary to do it; I don't think most people understand privacy well enough to make an informed decision about what information to allow advertisers collect. I don't think they even understand what's being collected or with whom it's being shared.

Between intent-based and content-targeted ads and history-driven recommendations (not paid ads) where the history is voluntarily handed over and aggregated across merchants by the user, that should be plenty to both serve advertising needs and to help people find products and services they want.

@kylerankin The human mind can delude itself into believing anything to justify that fat paycheck at the end of the month.

Besides, some companies make it explicit that "if not you, there are others".

Employees all the way up to the CEO can easily justify unethical actions because the corporation is responsible for those actions and not them personally, conveniently forgetting the fact that corporations are just abstractions, not natural persons.


Actually it's not entirely false (of course your point is valid too): I remember when reading wargame magazines I liked to see ads for good games.
Of course they weren't really intrusive and they were actually relevant and quite informative (at least about the existence of the game, not necessarily of its quality, but there weren't much other ways to get informed about new games at those times)...

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