Daily Archives: March 30, 2006

What’s Controlling You?

This is cool:

A DEVICE that can pick up on people’s emotions is being developed to help people with autism relate to those around them. It will alert its autistic user if the person they are talking to starts showing signs of getting bored or annoyed.

At least on first look it is cool.
Mark Kleiman exclaims:

But I’m less excited by the potential benefits than I am dazzled by the idea that a piece of software that runs on a computer small enough to fit in your pocket can be taught to recognize the symptoms of boredom or annoyance, as well as other emotions not expressed by a simple facial expression. The implications for social-psych and anthropology research, to say nothing of marketing studies, should be profound.

Heck, the implications for everyday interactions of many kinds could be profound or even stultifying.
Profound in the sense that anyone who is not a master of body language would find it useful to have this kind of helpful feedback.
Stultifying when everyone is interacting with others based on feedback from this or a similar device rather than directly from the people they are communicating with.

Just imagine the feedback algorithms your favorite government drone might like to have programmed into something like this. They could create a real nation of sheep.