Silicon Valley’s Secret Sauce

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“The short-term dopamine driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works.” Chamath Palihapitiya, Former Facebook Executive

Chamath’s now widely quoted statement presents a gloomy outlook for our future and dopamine has often been cited as Silicon Valley’s secret sauce so I thought it was time to find out why.

You may have noticed that dopamine has become the celebrity of brain chemicals in the media in recent years, being accused of causing a nation’s addiction to cupcakes or flaunted as a way to supercharge your sex drive (with the help of a watermelon), but what is dopamine really and why are dopamine loops triggered when we use our smartphones and connected devices?

Dopamine is one of about 20 major neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that carry urgent messages around our bodies. Without these neurotransmitters we would die.

It is at the basis of learning. It anticipates a reward when you do…

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