The Quantified Heart: The Cultural Impact of Artificial Intelligence

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From Aeon: “Murmuring in their soft voices, Siri, Alexa and various mindfulness apps signal their readiness to cater to us in an almost slave-like fashion. It’s not a coincidence that most of these devices are feminised; so, too, is emotional labour and the servile status that typically attaches to it. Yet the emotional presumptions hidden within these technologies are likely to end up nudging us, subtly but profoundly, to behave in ways that serve the interests of the powerful. Conversational agents that cheer you up (Alisa’s tip: watch cat videos); apps that monitor how you are coping with grief; programmes that coax you to be more productive and positive; gadgets that signal when your pulse is getting too quick – the very availability of tools to pursue happiness makes this pursuit obligatory.

Instead of questioning the system of values that sets the bar so high, individuals become increasingly responsible for their own inability to feel better. Just as Amazon’s new virtual stylist, the ‘Echo Look,’ rates the outfit you’re wearing, technology has become both the problem and the solution. It acts as both carrot and stick, creating enough self-doubt and stress to make you dislike yourself, while offering you the option of buying your way out of unpleasantness.”

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