Automating Empathy: Trajectory, Implications, and Citizen Views

This talk considers the social trajectory of technologies that pertain to gauge and interact with human emotion, affect, and subjectivity.



Once off-limits, the boundaries of personal space and the body are being probed by technologies and applications that simulate properties of empathy. This is occurring in worn, domestic, quasi-private and public capacities. Raising questions about moral limits and benefits of novel human-system interaction, attempts to automate empathy have significance for human rights, law, ethics, and the general interest in what it means to live with systems designed to interact with intimate strata of human life.

To explore these issues, the talk will provide historical context to these technologies, an overview of trends in current technological development, existing and emergent use cases, social acceptability, and quantitative and qualitative UK citizen perspectives. Insights will draw on empirical work of the Emotional AI Lab that McStay leads. This is currently conducting cross-cultural work in the UK and Japan, investigating use of empathic technologies and emotional AI in advertising, education, healthcare, media, mobility, security, toys, workplaces, and more.

About the speaker

Andrew McStay is Professor of Digital Life at Bangor University, UK. His most recent book, Emotional AI: The Rise of Empathic Media, examines the impact of technologies that make use of data about affective and emotional life. Director of The Emotional AI Lab, current projects include cross-cultural social analysis of emotional AI in UK and Japan.

The event is finished.


Oct 20 2021


10:00 am - 11:30 am

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