Empathy







via University at Buffalo: BUFFALO, N.Y. – Empathy is among humanity’s defining characteristics. Understanding another person’s plight can inspire gentle emotions and encourage nurturing behaviors. Yet under certain circumstances, feelings of warmth,…





Robert D. Stolorow writing in Psychology Today: In my work over the last two decades attempting to grasp the nature of emotional trauma (http://www.psychoanalysisarena.com/trauma-and-human-existence-9780881634679, http://www.routledgementalhealth.com/world-affectivity-trauma-9780415893442), I have shown that its essence lies…



Will our machines acquire the ability to convince us that they are in fact alive? An unsettling study at the the Netherlands’ Eindhoven University of Technology:

This video shows an experiment in which participants are asked to switch off a robot and thereby killing it. The robot begs for its live and we measured how long the participants hesitated.

The perception of life largely depends on the observation of intelligent behavior. Even abstract geometrical shapes that move on a computer screen are being perceived as being alive… in particular if they change their trajectory nonlinearly or if they seem to interact with their environments.

The robot’s intelligence had a strong effect on the users’ hesitation to switch it off, in particular if the robot acted agreeable. Participants hesitated almost three times as long to switch off an intelligent and agreeable robot (34.5 seconds) compared to an unintelligent and non-agreeable robot (11.8 seconds).



We know that the battle to prove one is human online is getting more difficult, sort of ‘reverse Turing Tests‘ as CAPTCHAs and Re-CAPTCHAs become more and more difficult to solve. And…


Can plants, bacteria, and even yogurt identify with your pain? How wide is the gulf between man and plant, if there is a gulf at all? If you’re going to have an argument with your significant other, consider avoiding doing so in front of your potted fern:

“As the races of man speak in different languages so do the varieties of plants manifest their voices in different ways. They seem to be able to hear and understand us. For the time being, however, we must listen to them through our machines. One day, those machines may be unnecessary.”



Rats are better than many people. The Telegraph writes: Rats actually display human-like empathy and will unselfishly go to the aid of a distressed fellow rodent, research has shown. The results of…


HannibalMitchell Anderson writes in the Toronto Star:

Given the state of the global economy, it might not surprise you to learn that psychopaths may be controlling the world. Not violent criminals, but corporate psychopaths who nonetheless have a genetically inherited biochemical condition that prevents them from feeling normal human empathy.

Scientific research is revealing that 21st century financial institutions with a high rate of turnover and expanding global power have become highly attractive to psychopathic individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the companies they work for.

A peer-reviewed theoretical paper titled “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” details how highly placed psychopaths in the banking sector may have nearly brought down the world economy through their own inherent inability to care about the consequences of their actions …



Kate Kelland reports on Reuters via MNN: Simon Baron Cohen has been battling with evil all his life. As a scientist seeking to understand random acts of violence, from street brawls to…


In this RSA Animate, Jeremy Rifkin examines our innate capacity for empathy, one of the defining traits of the human race (though we share it with a few other species). Rifkin argues that throughout history humans have progressively expanded their “spheres of empathy”, and that our survival as a species depends on expanding empathy further, rather than retreating into tribalism. Will our empathic impulses become more globalized, along with everything else? Or do the conditions of today breed a narrow self-interest which could destroy us?