Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
Professor Cass Sunstein, Professor at Harvard Law School, an articulate if somewhat low-key speaker, introduced (from his book “Nudge”) the concept of Libertarian Paternalism which utilizes 'choice architecture'. He describes libertarian paternalism as follows: "The libertarian aspect of the approach lies in the straightforward insistence that, in general, people should be free to do what they like. They should be permitted to opt out of arrangements they dislike, and even make a mess of their lives if they want to. The paternalistic aspect acknowledges that it is legitimate for choice architects to try to influence people's behavior in order to make their lives longer, healthier and better."
So automatic enrollment in savings plans that require ‘opt out’ not ‘opt in’ as defaults would increase percentage of savers. Organ donation programs that assume people want to donate, rather than non-donation as the default would save more lives. In this way, we can encourage children to eat healthier food by placing it near entrance of line in cafeteria. Likewise, we provide encouragement to conserve energy by offering context. For example, when homes use less electricity, provide them with information that compares their usage to their neighbors and praise them.
This concept of architecting choices to produce the desired (perhaps best) outcome has profound implications for product design in the aging in place technology market. Consider sorting of phone numbers in a cell phone, or notification order for a personal emergency response device, or the configuration of medication reminders.