How Darwinism played a role in misreading emotions
|September 18, 2018||Posted by News under Darwinism, Intelligent Design, Mind, Psychology|
Efforts to enable machines to read our emotions are hitting a roadblock and, oddly enough, Charles Darwin (1809-1882), founder of popular evolution theory, plays a role in getting it wrong:
The world is being flooded with technology designed to monitor our emotions. Amazon’s Alexa is one of many virtual assistants that detect tone and timbre of voice in order to better understand commands. CCTV cameras can track faces through public space, and supposedly detect criminals before they commit crimes. Autonomous cars will one day be able to spot when drivers get road rage, and take control of the wheel.
But there’s a problem. While the technology is cutting-edge, it’s using an outdated scientific concept stating that all humans, everywhere, experience six basic emotions, and that we each express those emotions in the same way. By building a world filled with gadgets and surveillance systems that take this model as gospel, this obsolete view of emotion could end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as a vast range of human expressions around the world is forced into a narrow set of definable, machine-readable boxes. Dr Rich Firth-Godbehere, “Silicon Valley thinks everyone feels the same six emotions” at Quartz
How did we decide that there were only six emotions? The theatre would be impoverished and the fiction rack destitute if…
Psychologist Paul Ekman, billed at his website as “The world’s deception detection expert, co-discoverer of micro expressions and the inspiration behind the hit series, Lie to Me,” originated the idea.” His interest in psychology began with a tragedy: His mother committed suicide when he was 14.
The conventional view at the time, represented by, for example, Margaret Mead (1901–1978), was that emotions are multifarious and fluid. But Ekman was drawn to Darwin’s idea that we have evolved universal emotions from an animal past. In the 1960s, he did research in New Guinea among the Fore people who had allegedly had little contact with Europeans and, we are told, “this work strongly suggested that emotional facial expressions are biologically determined, as Darwin had predicted.” Emotions even machine could read.
In 1955, Firth-Godbehere tells us, Mead regarded Darwin’s claims, advanced in the 1872 essay to which she wrote a foreword, “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals,” as “a historical curiosity.” But in 1998, Ekman was the one to write the foreword and he defended them, leading a consensus.
“Six emotions” thinking found its way into popular culture, in part via Lie to Me (2009–2011), where the curiously named “Cal Lightman”, played by Tim Roth, is “the world’s leading deception expert who studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to expose the truth behind the lies.”
Then something went wrong. More.
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