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Collective Empathy

a new political economy?
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It's official. German scientists are working on a crude means of attaching computer chips to brain cells. So, perhaps in the future, a mechanism can be created which is attached to each citizens relative cortexes and neurons at birth, which is able to capture emotional impulses. These impulses can then sent to a central server over WAP or whatever technology is available at the time. This server then performs a number of statistical functions and finds an average emotion being experienced by the populus, and transmits this signal back to each citizen.

The statistical analysis, as well as the various 'average emotion' distribution used is arbitrary. The point is, that this technology would bring up to the minute understanding to the populace.

Imagine if there were an international network of this technology and all humans had this technology implanted. <sdm acknowledges that this is WIBNI territory.> Assuming such technology were impervious to attack, it would be interesting to see the political consequences of, say, firebombing a city or using chemical warfare en masse. I theorise here, from the comfort of my armchair, that the global mood would shift such that there would be a new Mutually Assured Destruction system in place.

sdm, Sep 09 2001

1996: Two-Way Silicon-Neuron Interface http://www.biochem....ts/stemuefro96.html
I'm not sure what [sdm] needed to "make it official". Got a link? [jutta, Sep 09 2001]

iMood http://www.imood.com/
Kinda like this except for the implants? [wiml, Sep 09 2001, last modified Oct 21 2004]


       Mechanical Islam. There is only one active mind for all humanity or whoever, per Alkindi. We are approaching this state in America.
Poimandres, Sep 10 2001

       poimandres: Please elaborate. How is this happening in America? If anything one could argue that you are becoming increasingly isolationist, turning your back on the rest of the world. (Have a look at the "Remove USA from international accords" idea.)
sdm, Sep 10 2001

       What is the idea behind this idea? Some sort of forced empathy? A computer chip will tell you how most people feel so that you can thereby guage your feelings? Evil / insane people will be stopped from causing harm?   

       I do not get it. Please enlighten me [sdm].
snarfyguy, Sep 10 2001

       [Mephista]: Spelling has been changed, thanks. People *should* be empathetic, and I do believe you have a point about MAD being more about fear than empathy (if I'm reading you right.)   

       And [snarfguy], to clear up any confusion, this device would tack on an "average" (remembering that this term is open to interpretation) of all emotions, to the emotion currently being felt by citizen X. Now, as from my armchair observations, citizen X, when making a decision, uses information. This information is a construction of a number of things: experience, memories, emotions, bias, et cetera. It is thought that, having the additional emotional attachment to the populus, citizen X's political behavior would change, though, hopefully not in as sinister a manner as UnaBubba has parodied. I originally thought that such a device would be able to up/download the entire human experience, but I think people's heads would explode, and the wiring would doubtless be very messy. I'll stick to emotion as this is only covered by limited sections of the brain, and would, presumably be easy to extract, store, and manipulate.
sdm, Sep 10 2001

       [Ron]: That's an interesting question. If the emotion is "felt", perhaps the idea becomes more Borg like, as citizens have little choice but to participate and experience what their fellow citizens do. If the emotion is just "known", then perhaps it's not emotion, but another piece of information they can use to make decisions. Kind of like if I read the news and somebody describes to me the feeling in, say, Afghanistan.   

       <scratching chin> Hmm. This could turn into an interesting discussion. I guess you could say the subtext of this idea is that rational decisions are made on a bed of emotion rather than logic...
sdm, Sep 10 2001

       [UnaBubba]: //we are human doings...//
<sarcasm>Thanks a lot...</sarcasm> I'll be waiting for a chance to use that line for weeks now.
sdm, Sep 10 2001

       <sp: "populus" means "poplar." "populace" means "population"./>
jabbers, Sep 10 2001

thumbwax, Sep 10 2001

       [jabbers], [Mephista]: Populous comes from the Latin "populus" meaning "the people". I guess you're both right.
sdm, Sep 10 2001

       This sounds kind of worrying to me actually. What you're suggesting is in some ways just an extension of the linguistic media for establishing social empathy, sharing feelings on a general scale (phatic communion, gossip, the day-to-day "How ya doin'?", "Fine", "Did you hear about..." etc. all function to tune people affect-wise), but I'm not sure it would work out quite the way you planned.   

       People still have a large amount of prejudice against this, that or the other. Even the most liberal-minded person may have an automatic reaction of fear and disgust (and shame at their own discomfort) when it comes to, say, disability or disfigurement. Having the "average emotion" felt by all, might well mean that the person with the birthmark walking down the street is constantly aware of a guilty revulsion, quickly repressed but nevertheless felt by those around him. How aware would the passers-by be of how they were hurting that solitary individual whose emotional state - as one amongst many - would hardly affect the average at all?   

       I'd fear that by simply averaging emotion, you might well just be imposing Joe Schmoe's knee-jerk prejudices and bigotries on all of us. The tabloids seem fairly good indicators of the general emotional make-up of the populace - what pushes our buttons and rings our bells. A hive tabloid mind scares the shit ouot of me.
Guy Fox, Sep 10 2001

       Some trees are more popular
thumbwax, Sep 10 2001

       Many trees are more populous.   

       <pml type="blatant pedantry"> [RonHamel] //large portions of the populous// should read "... populace" -- see previous post.</pml>
jabbers, Sep 10 2001

       "Populus", which isn't a[n English] word, means neither "the people" nor "poplar". "Populous", however, is used to describe a group with a large population, for example, "New York is the most populous city in the United States".   

       Anyway, if logging in to the collective world-mind became mandatory, I'd hang myself. (Would that make everyone else commit suicide too?)   

       [sdm], poimandres is not saying that America is developing a hive mind with the rest of the world. What he's saying is that we, as Americans, are encouraged these days to develop a hive mind of our nation, by which every one of us should vote for whomever, follow a particular brand of Jesus-worship, hate homosexuals and brown people, blindly follow our government, etc. I see his point, although it's not as widespread as some scaremongers would have you believe. The left is alive and well, as is Thomas Jefferson's (I think it was Jefferson) notion that dissent is the highest form of patriotism.   

       That's just not what Fox News wants you to think.
disbomber, Apr 10 2005


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