Showing posts with label Emotions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emotions. Show all posts

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Relationship between Humans and Machines


Oppy (image credit

In today’s age of technology, the relationship between human beings and machines is more intertwined and inseparable than ever. Like every other relationship, the human-machine relationship also evokes many emotions. 

The probability of machines making us redundant and taking over our jobs evokes fear in us. The rapid pace of technological progress intrigues and interests us. Remember how ChatGPT caught everyone’s attention and became a top trending topic. Technologies have also caused many concerns like data privacy, deep fake, and security state which evokes anger, disgust, and sadness in varying degrees.

Is Love and bond also possible between humans and machines?

The movie HER written and directed by Spike Jonze (2013) explores this theme. It tells the story shortly, about a lonely writer who develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.

For the sake of argument, this story (movie) is a fiction. So is love between humans and machines possible in real life?

Goodnight Oppy, the documentary film directed by Ryan White (2022) tells a real-life fascinating story of humans and machines. The film follows Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rovers (robots) and their creators (NASA scientists and engineers) 15 years of long association and the remarkable bond forged between a robot and their humans millions of miles away.

The NASA scientists interact with Spirit and Oppy (nickname of Opportunity) as if they are real people with their own personalities and feelings. The NASA team had created human-like rituals of playing songs “Walking on Sunshine” and “Here Comes the Sun” to wake up (rebooting, restarting) the robots after their power-down periods. 

Several of the NASA team members involved in this project were in their younger days and over the long period of 15 years they grew through their lives and spent this significant time of their professional life with these robots. They developed a special connection with the robots, like a parent with their child. 

With the robots getting older, the scientists referred to them as aging, a malfunctioning robotic arm was related to arthritis and the falling memory of the robot was relatable to a scientist’s grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s in her old age.

As a viewer, you do feel the joy, the love, the triumph, the anguish of the NASA scientists for their robots Spirit and Oppy over these long years of relationship with them. It’s a unique documentary because of the uniqueness of the topic it explores – Love and Bonding between humans and machines.

In this omnipresent era of technology, the human-machine relationship is the subject of research and exploration. 

This documentary offers us a unique lens to look beyond our commonly experienced emotions towards machines and to wonder if love and bonding are possible between humans and machines? Goodnight Oppy tells a real-life story and shows love and bonding between humans and machines is plausible.

Where to watch? Goodnight Oppy is available on Amazon Prime.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Decoding Advertisements: Cocktail of Emotions

Image courtesy: Psychologist world (no copyright violation intended)

Our species, scientific name is Homo Sapiens.

The literal meaning of Homo Sapiens is Wise Man.

In this meaning, lies the satirical humour. Though we would like to believe we are wise, rational & make decisions based on deep thinking. The reality is by & large, we are driven by our emotions & feelings. Modern day Neuroscience, research studies in Behavioural Economics have exposed our irrationality & made us aware that our emotions overrides our rationality.

Let's look into the origin & meaning of the word Emotion.
As we can see in the below image, Emotion originated from Latin & French words which meant 'move' & 'excite'.
In the context of English language, Emotion means strong feelings, which drives us towards an action/thing/goal/behaviour.

Understanding Emotions a bit more: Emotions has a broad range & have many facets to it, intensity, time-span, explicit-implicit, verbal-non-verbal, cultural etc. For the sake of simplicity, let's fall back on the landmark study 'Constants Across Cultures in the Face & Emotion, by Ekman & Friesnen, W.V.' 1971 published in Journal of Personality & Social Psychology.

This study has shown, there are Six universal emotions which are recognised by all, across the globe, across all cultures. These six universally recognised emotions are:
  1. Happiness
  2. Sadness
  3. Anger
  4. Disgust
  5. Surprise
  6. Fear
The above landmark study was published in 1971. Since then till today year 2017, we have come a long way. With advancement of neuro-imaging technology, Neurosciences & Behavioural Sciences research has provided empirical evidences on brain-functionality (emotions & decision making).

These growing knowledge is finding application in several areas, just to name a few: Education & Teaching methodology, Policy making, Organizational/HR practices, Advertising & Marketing.

Let's take Advertising & Marketing, as a specific example. At this juncture we need to recognise, we are living in a consumption (consumerism) economy. To keep the consumption & hyper-consumerism galloping, advertising, selling, branding & marketing are deployed by companies to push their products & services. Infact, we find ourselves surrounded by advertisements - outdoor (billboards), print-media (newspaper, magazines), social media (FB, Youtube), TV, Apps, Radio/FM.

The knowledge of how emotions/feelings drive buying decisions & behavioural changes in a consumer, forms the core of an advertising strategy. Advertisements brings in these emotions into their story telling, which resonates with the audiences at an emotional/affective level. These feelings & emotions, sets the consumer into an act of buying, upgrading, change in behaviour.

A short video from Brand Equity show on ET Now, elaborating the above point: (Emotions behind the consumer buying decisions)

Examples of advertisements deploying these Six universal emotions in their story telling:
  • Happiness: Coke ran an ad series with tagline 'Open Happiness'. The ad associates the product (Coke) with the emotion/feeling of Happiness, in the consumer's mind. Hence for happy occasion like reunions, family get-together, celebrations, festivals etc the recall factor for Coke is high in the consumer's mind.

  • Sadness: HDFC Life ad series #memories for life, weaves the emotion of sadness into their story telling (portrayal of family members missing their dear one, on their special days). The insurance advertisement effectively uses sadness to make the consumer think - emotional loss can't be compensated, but at least one can leave behind financial independence for their family, God forbid if something untoward happens.

  • Anger: Policy Bazaar ad series 'Cancer se Ladai mein Insurance kaam aayega', depicts a cancer survivor, in anger (resentment) inspite of complete recovery. He is angry on himself, because he didn't purchase the insurance policy & he lost his life's savings for meeting the treatment cost. His anger (resentment) makes the audience think, what if this happens to me?
  • Disgust: In general, disgust being such a strong negative emotion advertisers are averse of incorporating it in their sales pitch. However, Govt. Campaigns which are targeted for social changes, behavioural changes, includes disgust to make their story telling more compelling & hard hitting. In these campaigns, disgust evokes a strong aversion in the mind of the audiences & makes them to critically introspect on their own behaviour.
Example, Anti-smoking campaign which portrays a disgusting deteriorating health symptoms (coughing) & a smoky, gloomy, unhealthy public place (canteen).

Example, Swatch Bharat campaign which portrays disgusting behavior of people, mindlessly throwing garbage, splitting, at public places, which causes the Lakshmi (Godness of wealth) to go away from these people's home. In Indian cultural context (religious), linking disgusting behaviour of garbage dumping & Goddess getting angry, will seed a thought in the audience's mind.
  • Surprise: Several jewelry companies, incorporate the emotion - surprise, into their story telling. The protagonist (giver) surprises his close one (e.g. spouse, partner, friend) by giving them a gift. The receiver expresses joy, happiness & feels elated upon receiving the surprise gift. Such compelling narrative, has the power to make the consumer replicate similar gifting behavior, for their loved ones.
  • Fear: Once again, in general fear being such a strong negative emotion advertisers are averse of incorporating fear in their sales pitch. However, fear is used specifically for specific segments e.g. OTC medicines, Insurances, Safety gears (helmets) etc. Fear is also incorporated for Govt campaigns which are aimed for social changes, behavioural changes. For e.g., campaigns for filing tax, campaigns for preventive health measures etc. Below is the link for advertisement. It's story telling narrative, portrays a daughter's fear for his father's (a small time farmer) well-being (what if there is no rain & he is in debt?). This fear leaves a lasting impression in the mind of the audience & they are able to appreciate the importance of the product (skymetweather), which offers real-time weather information to the farmer, assisting in his farming practices.

I hope this blogpost, has helped to some extend in raising understanding about how & why advertisements deploy emotions. In this concluding part, let's briefly look into the application of this Knowledge:
  1. Being self-aware advertisements appeal to our emotions & feelings. This self-awareness, puts rationality back into our decision making process.  
  2. Consumer (audience) can use their wisdom, to understand which advertisement has a positive influence (e.g. adapting healthy foods based on ads) & which advertisement has a negative influence (e.g. overindulgence, overspending). This understanding offers an opportunity for making well informed decisions.
  3. Children, teenagers are more gullible to advertisements compared to adults, due to their limited awareness & maturity level. As parent/guardian, we have a responsibility to raise awareness among children, teenager & guide them during their formative years. After all, today's children, teenagers are going to live their entire life in this era of Big Data, IoT, Social media, Digital & Vritual world. Therefore, knowledge of Behavioural Sciences is going to be a key life skill, for today's children, so that they can nurture their well-being during their adulthood!