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Synthetic Emotions

Synthetic emotions and Emotional Computing: Have you ever wished you had a firewall for your life?

Whilst the majority of technology research focusses on bigger and faster cognitive based AI, I (luckily I think) get to explore the more subtle issues that surround AI and AL (Artificial Life) such as synthetic emotions, unpredictability and how biological and synthetic biology could integrate computer processing power into our lives in a very different way than most of us are willing to consider. One focus of this research is the development of integrative technology that augments the human experience so as to provide extrasensory data flow which will allow humans to network with wider communications technology such as the Internet and its eventual replacement.

“Just because there isn't a plug hanging out of your neck doesn't mean you're not connected to the Matrix”

Don't panic, at least not yet, your body is already full of biological implants and the only thing that separates humans from the steam punk reality of being assimilated by computers is our own perception of what a “connection matrix” might resemble. What I am saying is this : “you are already connected to the Internet and a collective cognitive structure by your own daily actions and interaction with technology – just because there isn't a plug hanging out of your neck does not mean you are not connected to the Matrix”.

“Electro-biological communications on a power trip, our emotions make even the fastest super computers look like pocket calculators”

At first glance emotions may not seem to have much in common with computer memory storage, artificial intelligence or predictive analytics but to conclude that would be a big mistake. Emotions are the ultimate “fuzzy algorithm”. Electro-biological communications on a power trip, our emotions make even the fastest super computers look like pocket calculators. As the march of cognitive vertical scaling seems to move ever closer towards a Moore's law limit, the development of truly emotional small scale computing technology offers an alternative light at the end of the singularity tunnel. Computing that can feel the world, see the bigger picture and hopefully understand the implications of life's ups and downs I am sure will help us to remove at least some of the abstraction we have with respect to the suffering of our human brothers and sisters globally and if executed properly, advance us as a species.

A firewall for your life

As we voluntarily allow ourselves to be reprogrammed at a mental level by our current interaction with technology such as social media and marketing our biological framework learns to react to events and stimuli, sometimes with negative consequences. If we allow ourselves to court the idea of interfacing our lives with Emotional Computing – EC, we can imagine an independent sensory persona that acts as a firewall between ourselves and the increasing noise of the world. How many times have you seen a social media post and had your emotional well-being regressed by the act of being pulled yet again into another fruitless negative argument or quite happily suppressed memory? For met at least, we suppress memory for a good reason! An interface that can help us pre-emptively reframe or even avoid such things would be a welcome addition to many peoples lives. If you find advertising a problem for example, EC might function to selectively filter this from your vision in real time. Of course such tasks are still a long way away, but this article serves to shed some light on the possibilities and hopefully quell the fear that evolution is a bad thing, furthermore you are already allowing technology to embed itself in your very personality... better the devil you know.

From a technical standpoint and “In my opinion”, the research shows that the development of emotional computing architecture is not statistical data problem but an uncertainty and memory recall problem. Emotion and instinct is formed from the primary communication of electro chemical interactions with cognitive resources and hard coded memory such as physical objects, memetic constructs and of course our own brain. Emotional response is very often autonomous and without rational algorithms to define it. A good example is a fear of heights? I for one have a very real fear of heights, UNLESS, I have control of the parameters. I can tie a rope to a tree and happily hang off a cliff without problem, but I cannot stand on a balcony of a tower block without feeling very unsafe. Such things defy algorithmic investigation but manifest as real things. They are “fuzzy” but not in a fuzzy logic kind of way, no.. something much more simple yet simultaneously complex.

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