Silicon Valley Thinks Everyone Feels the Same Six Emotions

From Alexa to self-driving cars, emotion-detecting technologies are becoming ubiquitous—but they rely on out-of-date science according to the recent article by Dr. Rich Firth-Godbehere.

Godbehere says that 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 While the technology is cutting-edge, it’s using an outdated scientific concept stating that all humans, everywhere, experience six basic emotions, and that we each express those emotions in the same way.


Sketches of emotional facial expressions, Charles Le Brun, 1698. Image credit: Public domain

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