How Corporations Will Use Artificial Empathy to Sell Us More Shit

Empathy is a tricky business. The range and complexity of human emotion makes it difficult, if not impossible, to ever really understand how someone else is feeling. Nevertheless, empathy is considered to be a crucial aspect of what makes us human—indeed, our brains appear to be hardwired for it. So perhaps it won’t come as much of a surprise that as machine learning becomes ever more sophisticated and capable of mimicking some of the most complex functions of the human brain, figuring out a way to teach a computer empathy is quickly becoming a business in itself. Known as artificial empathy, the idea here is to train machines to recognize social signals from humans, aka ‘visual data,’ and then produce an appropriate response. The emergence of social signal processing as…


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