The Life of Emotional Machines

Understanding how we feel about machines that feel.

If predictions are to be believed, emotional technology that can detect and respond to human expression will be embedded in a lot of our products in the near future. From cars and connected homes to companion bots and virtual caregivers, our internet things may start to know how we feel.

Image of Pepper the robot.

But how do we feel about machines that feel? That's what we set out to discover through an engaging interactive study with over 500 people from around the world. People got to experience the technology for themselves and see how it might work in their home, in their care, and in the larger world.

While emotional devices might have a place in healthcare, there's a lot of hesitation in almost every other aspect of our lives. From sex tech to the connected home, people are wary.

People fear for their privacy, but they also fear for their humanity.

The idea that the technology could help us better understand ourselves, make us more empathetic, and build stronger bonds is compelling so long as it's balanced against respectful design and empowering interactions.