EMOTICASH: RESPONSE #1
The first response to our Emoticash project comes from LCF student Megan Boyle, studying Creative Direction for Fashion and focusing her final project on the interaction between emotion, empathy and technology.
A main element of Emoticash, is that it involves data collection, which I think often makes people uncomfortable and raises concerns about privacy. It is common knowledge that simple interactions with technology and the internet produce data that is used in a commercial way, often with our permission but without our consideration. Does anyone ever really read the pages of text before checking the box next to ‘I have read the terms and conditions’? I would say that people are quick to moan about invasions of privacy, but when it comes down to it, most people don’t care enough to look into it or act upon it.
In addition, A frequent rebuttal to fears concerning the increasing capabilities of AI is “AI will never be able to have the qualities of a sentient being, such as creative thinking or empathy.” However, the realisation that a machine can learn and comprehend the subtleties of human emotion through facial and vocal analysis, may appear only one step away from empathic AI. Especially if the machine can know whether reactions are genuine, or perhaps be able to recognise emotion more accurately than some humans. This concern and distrust many hinder how quickly Emoticash is taken up and utilised by consumers.
"This re-humanises the concept, it breaks the cycle of consumption that may otherwise arise: buy goods, track emotions, make money, buy goods…"
For many, Emotions are something that feel intrinsically pure, natural and distinctly human. Therefore, making money off your emotions may translate into something dystopian and Black Mirror worthy. However, if our emotional data is going to be harvested anyway, why not profit from it? The fact that the funds earned via Emoticash can only be spent in an enriching an emotionally rewarding context is an interesting addition. As I think this re-humanises the concept, it breaks the cycle of consumption that may otherwise arise: buy goods, track emotions, make money, buy goods…
"Increasingly people's identities are tied up into their consumption habits and the goods they possesS and present."
When it comes to spending Emoticash, often the consumption of goods may not come from a very positive place, besides aesthetic or functional value. Increasingly people's identities are tied up into their consumption habits and the goods they possess and present. The report mentions how digital has encouraged the curation of a “filtered and refined [life], extruding a mirage of perfection and fake emotions to the world, when the reality is far from glamorous.” This quote highlights how money is spent in order to attain the unattainable Insta-perfect life, or at least attempt to present it through the purchasing of goods. It is for this reason that I feel the decision to only allow Emoticash rewards to be spent on activities that encourage positive personal growth is a strong concept. Introspection, mindfulness and gratitude being activities that seek to increase the quality of an individual's life without requiring the purchasing of material goods is one of its benefits.
I think this is something that would be very well received considering current trends in health and wellness. The app Earthmiles track’s users steps (something people do anyway) and then monetise them, however the earnings can only be spend on goods and services in aid of health and fitness. Emoticash provided a similar service, using data that would be collected anyway, however providing the user with some benefit.