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"Behavior shaping isn't necessarily morally wrong to use," as long as we are talking about parents shaping their children, or the justice system (re-)shaping criminal offenders. Beyond that border, in my mind this becomes very unethical indeed!

Why not people wanting to shape their own behaviour? Nudges to exercise more from an exercise app I've installed is hardly diabolical.

you are correct. there is nothing wrong with giving humans the tools they want/need to be the better versions of themselves.

This is such a fine gray line that its impossible to conclusively categorize something as evil vs good.

For example: If I decide I want to exercise more, maybe I would appreciate an app which helps me become addicted to exercise. That might be good for me.

However, what if the app pushes me to exercise too much, and I begin to experience health problems associated with destroying muscles? Or, what if the app is formed on bad exercise science and it suggests routines that are bad for me? Now suddenly the addictions created by the app are working against me; the app isn't being irresponsible by helping me exercise, but it is being irresponsible by modifying my behavior and decision making processes to favor using it.

Similarly, is Instagram "good" for you? Probably not. But, per your comment: "there's nothing wrong with giving humans the tools they want". People might want to be addicted to Instagram; that doesn't mean it is good for them and that Instagram should deliver. People want to be addicted to nicotine and alcohol, so we put regulations around it.

The fact that there is a grey zone does not mean that there aren't also black and white zones. It more interesting to think about the grey zones, but it's easier to get things done in the back and white zones.

That's true, but I don't think a general purpose API for improving the addictiveness of any application exists in one part of the spectrum. Anyone can use this.

If we look at something like the activity circles on the Apple Watch; that's safe enough in my mind to be pretty well in the white area.

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