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The Future Of Emotions - Research
The Future Of Emotions - Research

Video: The Future Of Emotions - Research

Video: The Future Of Emotions - Research
Video: The Atlas of Emotions with Dr. Paul Ekman and Dr. Eve Ekman 2023, March

How many times have you heard that making decisions is better “without emotion”? Meanwhile, science has long known that this is not so. Groups of healthy people and people with brain damage that deprived them of their emotions were asked to make decisions. Those who could not feel emotions froze, unable to make a simple choice, for example, what to order in a restaurant: chicken or turkey.

Prediction errors

In psychology, there is the concept of affective (emotional) prognosis. The term was introduced by famous psychologists Timothy Wilson and Daniel Gilbert. They experimentally proved that we are unreliable in predicting the duration and intensity of our own emotions. When we are asked how we will feel if we win the lottery or lose our legs in an accident, we are quite accurate in assessing our emotions, but we tend to exaggerate how much and for how long we will feel them.

We are mistaken simply because we forget that our future life, like today, will be filled with other events

This is not just a theoretical concept. Based on these forecasts, we make plans for the future. For example, imagine how happy we will be when we become rich, and rush headlong into a project that promises big money. We think about how we will suffer if we lose our job, and we hold on to it with all our might, although it would be worthwhile to leave it (this understanding will come only after a few years). These are just two examples showing that emotionally, we know ourselves very poorly. The knowledge economy is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Machines are starting to do much better and cheaper. It is being replaced by the economy of emotions.

And the value of a person is no longer measured in skills, experience and knowledge, but in the feelings that he experiences. It is emotions that distinguish us from cars, at least for now. But how long will it last?

Robot psychotherapists

Already, scientists at the University of Southern California, with financial support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have developed a virtual psychologist, Ellie. The involvement in the project of the legendary secret agency under the US Department of Defense is explained by serious tasks: soldiers returning from combat campaigns too often suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and are prone to suicide.

Today, the virtual specialist serves not only the military, but also everyone with mental health problems

Ellie is an avatar of a female psychologist who communicates with a patient. Ellie doesn't talk as much as she listens and watches. It monitors all gestures, micromovements of facial muscles, changes in body temperature, tone and timbre of the voice - a total of 60 parameters of the behavior of a person sitting in front of a computer.

Ellie makes about fifty measurements of these parameters per second, and thus “sees” and “hears” an order of magnitude more than any, even the most experienced psychotherapist. To date, hundreds of patients have gone through Ellie. And when the system becomes widespread, the number of customers will snowball. Along with this, Ellie's skill will grow through machine learning. She is literally going to be a therapy superstar.

There is more than enough motivation for the development of such technology: every fourth inhabitant of the planet experiences certain mental problems. Every twentieth over the age of 16 - at least once thought about suicide. Ellie will be able to understand in seconds what is wrong with a person and what needs to be done immediately in order to help in the most effective way.

The developers intend to use her initially as a therapist's assistant. By analogy with a blood test, Ellie's initial contact with a client can tell the therapist a lot about the person's condition even before the meeting. But it will not be long before it will replace the practical psychologist once and for all.

In addition, an interesting thing was recently discovered: people behave more openly with a machine than with a person. When test takers think that they are talking only with a computer and there is no human observer nearby, they open up emotionally and talk about events for which they were very ashamed. They explain such frankness by the fact that "a robot, unlike a man, does not judge."

The economy of emotions

Marketers know that if the consumer can evoke emotion, they can sell whatever they want. Thus, insurance companies evoke emotions of sadness and fear for loved ones; Many beer or soda producers try to associate their products with the joy of communication with family and friends. This difficult job is expensive, for example, Coca-Cola spends about three billion dollars a year on it. New technologies promise breakthroughs in this direction.

Emotion is the most predictable element of shopper behavior, according to companies that already specialize in measuring emotional customer loyalty. When a person becomes emotionally attached to a brand, they buy more often, more and longer.

Using big data analysis, companies can relatively accurately determine the number of people who are emotionally loyal to a particular brand. They can calculate the emotion generated by the ad to generate more buyers.

The technology of recognizing emotions by facial expression has already become common. Such programs understand our emotions better than ourselves. All the largest FMCG companies in the world routinely use it to test their commercials. The author of this article used emotion recognition technology to test videos from well-known Russian companies and banks. American film studios necessarily run pilot episodes through this technology and, based on the results, decide whether to spend millions on the project or abandon it.

But it's no longer enough for business people to test the emotional quality of their product or ad. They want to instantly assess the customer's feelings and immediately create a personalized offer.

There is no magic in this. Here's how it works: You see or hear a sales offer, and for a moment your face reflects an emotion of disgust, invisible to the human observer, but perfectly captured by the program. This will mean that you rate the idea as disadvantageous and are more likely to reject it. But the program has already understood what exactly you did not like, and immediately changes the proposal. A second passed, and a performance was performed in front of your brain, which passed unnoticed by your consciousness. You buy a product and move on happy.

Those who are sorry to part with the past have nothing to do with trying to look into a better, brighter future

Dmitry Pisarev

The economy of emotions is also entering our home: soon all objects and objects united by the Internet of Things will recognize our emotions and react to them. Moreover, it will be as everyday and imperceptible as the GPS in the phone. Your coffee maker, vacuum cleaner and refrigerator will know what your mood is at the moment and will begin to match it.

We can't get away from pharmaceuticals either. Big Pharma has always loved to play with feelings. We didn't notice how common shyness turned into social anxiety syndrome, and sadness and melancholy turned into seasonal affective disorder. These are no longer feelings, but medical diagnoses that must be treated with pills. In recent years, scientists have made an intense breakthrough in understanding the chemistry of our emotions, and accurate, effective, and affordable mood pills are just around the corner.

It so happens that from a small set of basic emotions, no one wants to produce fear, sadness, or disgust. Everyone wants happiness, and it looks like we will have plenty of it, with different shades, intensity and duration. We do not know where this is all leading, but when did humanity stop before jumping into the unknown, deciding first to think carefully about the consequences?

The irony is that by selling us happiness with a pill, business will manipulate us even more. Tails Teixeira, a professor at Harvard University, believes that a person has three interchangeable resources: money, time and attention. Attention is the least researched resource, and Teixeira began to calculate its "cost", that is, how much dollars a minute of a potential client's attention costs a business. In 2010, one minute was worth six cents. Since then, the price has jumped at times. There are too many people who want to grab our attention, too much seductive for a person, and attention becomes a scarce and expensive resource. Business wants it bigger, faster and cheaper. This is quite feasible, but only if you first make the person emotional.

The last advantage

You noticed that we often talk about money and business interests, about how to encourage a person to buy something or do something. But the day is not far off when no one will need our labor and no one will manipulate us for our wallet.

Who are we and what do we want to do when we don’t need to work? When machines can do almost everything better than us, then our ability to experience emotions will remain, perhaps, the last island of humanity to be conquered. We will need to “reinvent ourselves”, daringly dream and find ourselves a high purpose, or, alternatively, become pets of cars.

Expert opinion

IQ or EQ?

Tatiana Gulyaeva, psychologist
Tatiana Gulyaeva, psychologist

For more than four centuries, the flag of rationalism has fluttered over the Western world. Reason was proclaimed the authority, the only advantage of man over nature. It was in the mind that philosophers and scientists saw the source of world order and true knowledge. “A decision without emotion” was declared the most correct. But the achievements of scientific and technological progress have deprived man of a remarkable trump card. Any computer is smarter than the average individual - he knows more, solves problems faster. What is left for us? Feel, experience emotions? This is indeed the last island of humanity not yet captured by robots and computers. We will have to be aware of our feelings, learn to use them in order not to make mistakes. Corporations are already using emotion recognition technologies with might and main, in commercials we are not offered a product with its qualities and characteristics,and the pleasure to possess it, and the set includes youth, beauty and happiness. A future in which machines will work for us is not far off. Perhaps there will be robotic doctors, robotic teachers and robotic psychologists (Ellie is already there). Maybe then we will learn, or rather feel, the main purpose of humanity?




  • Abrams E. Virtual humans inspire patients to open up //, July 10, 2014.
  • Dormehl L. Thinking machines: the quest for artificial intelligence – and where it's taking us next. New York, TarcherPerigee: 2017.
  • Kenyon S. The future of emotions // Science 2.0. 2011.

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