Thu-Huong Ha reacts to Chris Kluwe’s TED Talk. “Toward the end of his talk Kluwe makes a call for a grander application of the technology: more empathy. Says Kluwe, augmented reality will allow us to experience new perspectives, “by literally showing someone what it looks like to walk a mile in another person’s shoes.””

Ha argues that “as neuroscientist Simon Baron-Cohen and other researchers have shown, there are actually two distinct kinds of empathy. “Cognitive empathy” is the “ability to imagine someone else’s thoughts and feelings” — that’s what Kluwe is referring to. The other, related to compassion and potentially harder to cultivate, is “affective empathy.” This, says Baron-Cohen, is “the drive to respond with an appropriate emotion to what someone else is thinking or feeling.” That’s why, while psychopaths are strong in cognitive empathy, they are weak in the affective kind; for autistic people, often, the opposite is true. While Kluwe hopes for augmented reality that might help us understand the world through the experiences of others, maybe what we really need is augmented reality for emotions and thinking. What if you could overlay someone else’s history, memory and psychology onto your experience of the world?”
Using Augmented Reality to build empathy is what Beata Staszynska and I try to do with our own uses of AR. In essence what we do is not overlay someone else’s experiences onto our experiences but rather the other way around – try to make us look at ourselves as if we were an Other. This does not fail to trigger reflection and, at least in the short run, empathy.
It would be interesting though to try out the option Ha describes.

Link found by Catelijne van Antwerpen

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