It is Friday at 5:48PM, you are finishing up work as you instruct your cook bot to heat up some Vegetable Goyozas. In 10 minutes, you go to the kitchen to grab them, sit down and eat them. Perfect every time. When you’re done you put on your simulation bodysuit and log into the vacation package you and your friends subscribe to. This weekend you are reserved at a Mayan Riviera Oceanview. Instantly, you feel the warmth of the sun, smell the ocean and see your three friends already seated by the bar.
While the scene is artificial, the happiness is real. Perhaps even more so than so-called real life; there is no airport anxiety, jet-lag or a vacation too short to be worth the travel. As we continue to automate our lives and leave mundane tasks to machines, there is a market emerging that aims to sell us the feelings we want.
Our emotions influence everything we do. How we interact with others, the decisions we make, how we treat our loved ones. Yet we spend most of our times looking into machines that don’t understand our emotions. Today the closest thing we have to expressing our feelings through these machines are emojis.
It has been predicted that you’ll be able to purchase high quality emotions in 2045. How? The reality of that is yet to be seen but there are many experiential advances that have taken place to better understand the future of our feelings.
Lie To Me
One company leading the way is Effectivia — they’ve used face recognition to read 12 billion data point from 2.5 Million face videos and are able to tell with accuracy how we are feeling from our faces. With this data, we’ll instantly know when someone is lying to us. While a world of openly perceived emotions is intrusive to some there are upsides. Imagine a future where we’ll have emotional profiles of people around us that show us how aggressive they are or even how good of a mood they are in if you want to pitch them a new idea.
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind
The brain is a network made of neurons and electrical current flows through these neurons. We have billions of connections turning on and off, talking to each other to create our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, consciousness. It is who we are.
Scientists at MIT realized that if you can control the way electrical currents move by selecting which neurons turn on and off, you can have impact on disease, emotions, blindness, addiction, chronic pain, possibly everything. With that thought, they identified an algae that swims towards light in order to live. It senses light with an “eye” that works much like our eyes work. That eye, is made up of proteins that convert light into electricity, like solar panels on a roof this electricity keeps this algae moving towards the light to continue surviving.
Through merging DNA, a team at MIT put these proteins into specific neurons on mice. Once they projected a blue light on to the mice’s brain, this light converted into electricity and turned on that specific neuron. It worked well and it worked on the first try. This process is called Optogenetics. With the ability to control which neurons turn on and off, successful tests have made mice feel false fear by having fake memories of an attack implanted into their brain. First the mice were put in one blue room where they were painfully shocked. They were then put into a red room where through Optogenetics, the same brain patterns when they were shocked turned on making the mice feel fear when they were in no danger.
This mouse recalled a memory that had never happened. With false memories feeling real, this gets us to a place of better understanding how we’ll be able to buy feelings in 25-30 years.
There is a mood market emerging, and we’re going to need to design for it. Coca-Cola has already filed a patent related to mood advertising. Imagine a world where your car senses that you are tired and remaining alert for you. A refrigerator that knows when you are hungry.
We can fear this but in today’s world, optimism is a strategy and that is how corporations will attempt to ease the future of feelings.