November 16, 2008

Convergence08: PJ Manney on empathy and technology

Studies show that violent video games have a measurable impact on the user's empathetic awareness; they are making us less sensitive to the needs of our fellow humans.

Transhumanists and technophiles alike are having a hard time getting their message out -- it's a very niche audience. The question, then, is what do we need to focus on to increase that empathetic response, to get people to better listen to one other.

[PJ concludes her opening comments and facilitates a discussion]

Key comments from the discussion
  • We do in fact need to make a concerted effort to create meaningful games without the violence and to popularize them; increase access to "casual games"
  • How do we infiltrate the culture of the 'other' and teach them to think more about what they're perpetrating or what the circumstances are of their actions.
  • Serious Games are games where you can actually play about serious world changing issues in real world scenarios. PJ suggests that this realness could be a meaningful step in the right direction -- the intensity is maintained, as is the human connection.
  • Role playing, whether it be in the gaming world or elsewhere, can impact on our empathetic sensibilities; it would be interesting to generate a character for yourself that is a person you wouldn't want to be so that it can enhance your ability to project outside yourself
  • Interfaces can often act as a psychological obstacle
  • We should distinguish between technological and psychological techniques
  • One thing we can do is work to increase shared values which increases shared belief. This in turn leads to an enhanced sense of identity and community.
  • Enabling factors -- promote a shared value.
  • Realism versus fantasy -- the more unreal something is, the less we can relate to it.
  • PJ says we get a better empathetic sense from the written world than the visual.
  • Switching characters at random may force you to project outside yourself
  • Personal subjectivity will also have an impact on how exposure to violence will manifest
  • Escapism may also have an impact on a sense of empathy
  • Tweaking mirror neurons
  • Meditative technologies and projection practices
  • Outsider<->Insider; mimic the other
  • EQ
  • Book: The General Theory of Love
  • Empathy is a practice; it's a muscle that needs to be used
  • Narcissists don't read novels)


Anonymous said...

How many transhumanists are Aspies? Good luck trying to use video games to build empathy with non-neurotypicals.

dharmicmel said...

in order to go beyond the average, you have to get away from the average