What happens when media technologies are able to interpret our feelings, emotions, moods, and intentions? In this cutting edge new book, Andrew McStay explores that very question and argues that these abilities result in a form of technological empathy. Offering a balanced and incisive overview of the issues raised by ‘Emotional AI’, this book: • Provides a clear account of the social benefits and drawbacks of new media trends and technologies such as emoji, wearables and chatbots • Demonstrates through empirical research how ‘empathic media’ have been developed and introduced both by start-ups and global tech corporations such as Facebook • Helps readers understand the potential implications on everyday life and social relations through examples such as video-gaming, facial coding, virtual reality and cities • Calls for a more critical approach to the rollout of emotional AI in public and private spheres Combining established theory with original analysis, this book will change the way students view, use and interact with new technologies. It should be required reading for students and researchers in media, communications, the social sciences and beyond.
Chapter 2: Situating Empathy
Chapter 1 introduced the principle of empathic media by suggesting that media technologies are increasingly able to interpret feelings, emotions, moods, attention and intention to engage with people in new ways. These technologies did not emerge from nowhere, but they have technical and theoretical antecedents. To provide context to forthcoming chapters, this chapter attends to empathy itself and thereafter technologies argued to be ‘empathic’. I argue that empathy has two overlapping characteristics. The first is that it is a social fact of inter-personal life and living in communities. Applied to technology, this means it makes sense to speak of ‘living with’ technologies that sense, track and feel-into our lives. The second characteristic is its interpretive qualities. This is not just about ...