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Home » Are You Being Manipulated? – David McCubbin (Transcript)

Are You Being Manipulated? – David McCubbin (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of corporate dramatist David McCubbin’s talk titled “Are You Being Manipulated?” at TEDxBurleigh Heads 2024 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


The Power Game of Artificial Integrity

The power game that worries me most is AI. Now I’m not talking about artificial intelligence, although I did see the latest Terminator film and I could see that that could become rather tricky. I’m talking about something deeply rooted in human nature that right now affects us all: Artificial integrity.

When someone projects that they are intrinsically motivated to serve you or others when in truth, their actions serve themselves. It’s a seduction strategy that delivers power to someone whether they have the wisdom or the compassion to use that power well. And I know that I’m not the only one who sees this.

In responsible journalism, in activism, in advocacy, brave, brilliant people call out abuses of power. But something’s missing. Because the impact of artificial integrity is rising, employed as it is by politicians, business leaders, and people heading towards domestic violence.

In the week that I sat down to start collecting my thoughts for this talk, a young woman was brutally murdered by someone who used to be her intimate partner. And I discovered that on average that happens every week in this country. We know we have a problem, but we haven’t cracked it yet. Something’s missing.

And that’s why I wanted to describe artificial integrity in a way that exposes it for what it is and offers some suggestions for how to disarm it. I’m a dramatist. I trained at Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art. I worked as an actor, a writer, and a director. And now in business with leadership communication. And the combination of those lived experiences, the deep exploration of character and motivation, and the deep engagement with the characters who run corporations, I think it’s given me an acute sensitivity for the way that people use psychological action in order to win and wield power.

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