The problem with non-addictive tools — particularly when they're free — is that they're bad for business, especially when that business is advertising.

On the Web, where people have learned not to value things directly, the most common business model is to make a product, give it away for free, attain tremendous scale, and then, once you have a lot of users, to turn those users into the product by selling their attention to advertisers and their personal information to marketing departments.

This is a dangerous deal — not necessarily in economic terms, but in human terms — because, once the user has become the product, the user is no longer treated as an individual but as a commodity, and not even a precious commodity, but as one insignificant data point among many — a rounding error — meaningful only in aggregate.

Thinking of humans this way produces sociopathic behavior: rational in economic terms but very bad in human terms.

Yet many companies operate under this premise.

Businesses — initially invented as a means of solving social problems (my village needs bread and I can bake it, my neighbor needs a roof and I can build it, etc.) — have become disconnected vehicles that exist primarily to profit, often with little regard for what people actually need, what social problems the companies purport to be solving, or for what kind of outcomes their products and actions are likely to have in the world.

Advertising — initially invented as an accelerant to make existing business models flourish more deeply — has become the business model itself, turning whole companies into marketing departments, products into attention hooks, and people into products.

When advertising is the business model, companies cannot afford to create non-addictive technologies, because their businesses rely so heavily on page views and clicks. These companies cannot optimize for meaning and beauty (like healers), but have to optimize for addiction and volume (like dealers).