Individuals are turning ever more aspects of their lives into managerial problems that require technological solutions. We have access to an ever-increasing array of free and inexpensive technologies that harness incredible computational power that effectively allows us to self-police behavior everywhere we go. As pervasiveness expands, so does trust. Our willingness to delegate tasks to trusted software has increased significantly. Individuals are growing increasingly realistic about how limited their decision-making skills and resolve are. Moreover, we’re not ashamed to discuss these limits publicly. Some embrace networked, data-driven lives and are comfortable volunteering embarrassing, real time information about what we’re doing, whom we’re doing it with, and how we feel about our monitored activities. Put it all together and we can see that our conception of what it means to be human has become “design space.” We’re now Humanity 2.0, primed for optimization through commercial upgrades. And today’s apps are more harbinger than endpoint.
… Their [philosophers] comments suggest consuming digital willpower may not be as innocent or simple as it may first seem. However, an emerging strain of philosophical inquiry could upend these traditional criticisms and open the door to guilt-free willpower enhancement.
… the will is a flexible mesh of different capacities and cognitive mechanisms that can expand and contract, depending on the agent’s particular setting and needs. Contrary to the traditional view that identifies the unified and cognitively transparent self as the source of willed actions, the new picture embraces a rather diffused, extended, and opaque self who is often guided by irrational trains of thought. What actually keeps the self and its will together are the given boundaries offered by biology, a coherent self narrative created by shared memories and experiences, and society. If this view of the will as an expanding and contracting system with porous and dynamic boundaries is correct, then it might seem that the new motivating technologies and devices can only increase our reach and further empower our willing selves.