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This paper tries to achieve a balanced view of the ethical issues raised by emotion-oriented technology as it is, rather than as it might be imagined. A high proportion of applications seem ethically neutral. Uses in entertainment and allied areas do no great harm or good. Empowering professions may do either, but regulatory systems already exist. Ethically positive aspirations involve mitigating problems that already exist by supporting humans in emotion-related judgments, by replacing technology that treats people in dehumanized and/or demeaning ways, and by improving access for groups who struggle with existing interfaces. Emotion-oriented computing may also contribute to revaluing human faculties other than pure intellect. Many potential negatives apply to technology as a whole. Concerns specifically related to emotion involve creating a lie, by simulate emotions that the systems do not have, or promoting mechanistic conceptions of emotion. Intermediate issues arise where more general problems could be exacerbated-helping systems to sway human choices or encouraging humans to choose virtual worlds rather than reality. “SIIF” systems (semi-intelligent information filters) are particularly problematic. These use simplified rules to make judgments about people that are complex, and have potentially serious consequences. The picture is one of balances to recognize and negotiate, not uniform good or evil.
Date of Publication: Fourth Quarter 2012