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.

Affective Witnessing: VR 2.0

Affective Witnessing: VR 2.0

This chapter identifies two dimensions of empathy in relation to virtual reality (VR): first is the capacity of the display wearer to undergo empathetic experiences with people, places, periods, fictional creations and even objects. As will be developed, VR grants not only cognitive and intellectual comprehension of these, but also aesthetic, kinesthetic and affective understanding. By contrast, the second mode of empathy allows remote viewers to understand what the wearer is undergoing and seeing from a first-person perspective (‘seeing seeing’). Taken together, there is a need for critical interest in VR due to the power of the medium to affect, yet also its capacity to allow experiences to be witnessed by human and machinic observers.

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