The human future of technology centers on emotional intelligence, mental health, and well-being.
The Future of Inner Life
It feels like we're starting to acknowledge that tech makes us feel things. Mostly, negative things. Everyone realized that social media is more than just distracting, but that networks are fueled by anger which in turn stokes outrage. People began to turn a wary eye to a future with bots, fearful that they will not only take our jobs or make our own interactions more robotic. Artificial intelligence that picks on physical emotional cues started to surface, along with anxieties about how it could be abused. But that doesn't have to be the future.
Emotionally Intelligent Design is the first book to look at how the convergence of affective computing, artificial intelligence, and social bots impacts our social norms and psychological truths. Motivated by the mission to move hearts and minds, the book and the talks nudge designers and developers into taking a reflective approach toward the next wave of emotional design. Pamela continues to work on how we might blend human and artificial emotional intelligence. She's advising several startups on how to integrate emotion AI into the experience and creating one of her own geared toward empathetic communication. In the works for 2020, the launch of Empathic Studio and a toolkit for emotional design.
The Future Feeling Society is a series of events held all over the world to explore how technology is changing emotion. Starting in 2018, Pamela led love labs, schadenfreude salons, and melancholy meetups to map the new world of emotion. In the wake of COVID-19, the meetups are going virtual. The goal is to create a field guide of internet emotion, co-created with whipsmart people who have strong feelings about our evolving emotional world. The blog, Future Feeling, will launch in Summer 2020.
While we frame our tech use in terms that have moved beyond disjointed distraction to unhealthy addiction, we haven’t really come to terms with the emotional underpinning. The book, Digital Fix, is starting point for ideas around digital well-being. While the design community is just starting to find ways to truly design for wellbeing rather than just making people aware of (translation: feel guilty about) hours spent, our current time presents new challenges. When we are online all the time, when a bit part of our world is mediated through a tech filter, when we find solace and solidarity in screens, what does it mean for welll-being?