Healthy and Happy? An Ethical Investigation of Emotion Recognition and Regulation Technologies (ERR) within Ambient Assisted Living (AAL)

Kris Vera Hartmann, Giovanni Rubeis, Nadia Primc

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

Abstract

Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) refers to technologies that track daily activities of persons in need of care to enhance their autonomy and minimise their need for assistance. New technological developments show an increasing effort to integrate automated emotion recognition and regulation (ERR) into AAL systems. These technologies aim to recognise emotions via different sensors and, eventually, to regulate emotions defined as "negative" via different forms of intervention. Although these technologies are already implemented in other areas, AAL stands out by its tendency to enable an inconspicuous 24-hour surveillance in the private living space of users who rely on the technology to maintain a certain degree of independence in their daily activities. The combination of both technologies represents a new dimension of emotion recognition in a potentially vulnerable group of users. Our paper aims to provide an ethical contextualisation of the novel combination of both technologies. We discuss different concepts of emotions, namely Basic Emotion Theory (BET) and the Circumplex Model of Affect (CMA), that form the basis of ERR and provide an overview over the current technological developments in AAL. We highlight four ethical issues that specifically arise in the context of ERR in AAL systems, namely concerns regarding (1) the reductionist view of emotions, (2) solutionism as an underlying assumption of these technologies, (3) the privacy and autonomy of users and their emotions, (4) the tendency of machine learning techniques to normalise and generalise human behaviour and emotional reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)2
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Humans
  • Ambient Intelligence
  • Emotions
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Health Status
  • Technology

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