- Nudging isn’t new – but algorithmic nudging ups the ante. The AI ethics debate now extends to these new means of persuasion. It’s an issue we should all take a look at, whether we’re the nudger, or the nudgee.
Algorithmic nudging via AI is an emerging practice – one that deserves ethical scrutiny. The term « nudge, » while new in this context, has ties to manipulative media tactics. It’s a potent new tool in the art of persuasion.
Manipulation through media is hardly new, but a nudge is a little different. The term « nudge » has been circulating around behavioral psychologists for a while, but the seminal book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness, by Nobel Prize Laureate Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein formalized the ways policymakers and other intermediaries can prod behavioral changes. Their definition of a nudge is « any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behavior predictably without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. »