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Is Pickup manipulation?
My main concern about learning pickup is that it will turn me into a manipulator - someone who's psychologically taking advantage of people. 

Definitely some of the techniques seem manipulative to me - things like using canned stories that aren't even true or seeding the pull or teasing girls are designed to intentionally get a reaction.

So, how do I make sure that I don't go down that path?
It's only manipulation if you're intentionally creating a win-lose situation. So, if you convince a girl to have sex with you and you see having sex with you as a loss, that's manipulation.

But if sex with you is a win, influencing a girl to choose to do so is not at all manipulative - you're just helping her experience something she wants to experience.
Pickup can be manipulation, definitely. If you make a girl think that you're interested in a long-term relationship but you only want a one-night stand, that's manipulation. If you try to make a girl think there's an afterparty but it's really just you, I'd say that's manipulation too. Anything where you're using the thought, "The ends justify the means," to moralize what you're doing is probably manipulation.

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