Apps for Empathy (in progress)

This is a messy subject, with overlapping lines and unclearly defined terms…but it’s important, powerful and immensely interesting.

Let’s not just hook ourselves on dopamine torture cycles inside games for profit. Let’s spiral the dopamine cycle ‘up’ into a higher state of empathy and curiosity and learning. I dare us.

Intentionally triggering empathy, hurray! It’s what bullies need, and practicing empathy can help isolated depressed people feel more connected and hopeful.   What if we consciously provoked empathy and were made conscious of our follow-up options while in this hightened state of ‘empathetic feeling’ – ie, I want to be able to decide consciously what the best ways to help starving kids are with MANY options presented, not only the donation button from the NFP who made a clip to solicit my empathy.  (Teaching the emotional intelligence of retaining empathy in full force yet adding the processing power of conscious evaluation of options.)

Sounds snappy – apps for empathy.  Google it, and you’ll find that there is indeed an emerging field for teaching empathy to children.  (in progress…will synthesize the many articles/apps.)

Teaching adults seems not to be a targeted market yet, which is a pity considering empathy has been linked with happiness and ‘life satisfaction.’  From clinical evidence of the power of mirror neurons and quantifiable healthy impact of volunteerism (will get source links), to the soft self help gurus extolling the satisfaction derived from empathy…

If we can get over feeling weird about ‘practicing empathy’, there will be very powerful software developed to pull us safely into uncomfortable feelings….and who knows, given a conscious follow-on options that enable more conscious control than what happens when we see a picture of something sad and make spontaneous decisions.

HARDWARE PLUS APPS
A dream of mine has been to create an updated version of  the physically immersive fantasy world my older brother Jason McNichol made for me.  By combining a chair, umbrella, blankets, flashlight and his strength, he launched me out of our problematic home and into a world of benevolent planets, silly aliens and hope.  The power of physically immersive environments and psuedo environments from Oculus and neuro/biofeedback as implied by MUSE and show an immediate future ripe for intentional manipulation.  IE, let’s not just hook ourselves on dopamine torture cycles inside games for profit. Let’s use a dopamine cycle ‘up’ into a higher state of empathy and curiosity and learning.

Some links http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/do_mirror_neurons_give_empathy

http://www.ted.com/talks/vs_ramachandran_the_neurons_that_shaped_civilization
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7AWnfFRc7g
http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/11/20/246395383/video-game-creators-are-using-apps-to-teach-empathy

http://www.themachinetobeanother.org/
RSA Animate – The Empathic Civilisation

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