The call for emotionally provocative technological systems
Kaniecki, Camille N.
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The growing dependency on technological systems for human survival and standard of living is reforming the context of everyday life for consumers of affluent, technologically mediated society. As Joseph Weizenbaum noted, "the instruments man uses become ... extensions of his body," and that "his instruments become literally part of him and modify him." 1 In other words, the technological systems proliferating all facets of society become fundamentally inseparable from the day to day life of the human beings whom interact with these systems. As this technological proliferation invades more and more facets of the human social fabric and as these systems develop further multiplicitous functionalities, "One would expect man to cathect more intensely to instruments that couple directly to his own intellectual, cognitive, and emotive functions than to machines that merely extend the power of his muscles." Extrapolating Weizenbaum's theory, it follows that technological systems that are not only mentally provocative – but emotionally so – would not only create more meaningful, contextual human-techno relationships, but would also be sought out by the human participants who ultimately crave such interaction, even subconsciously. To emphasize this argument, this writing proposes the following points: 1. Humans are inherently social creatures. 2. Humans are inherently emotional creatures. 3. Humans immerse themselves in technological systems. 4. Hence, by the transitive property, technological systems are inherently social and emotional in the sense that the humans who use them subconsciously reflect their own social and emotional sensations onto the systems. In anticipation of this evolution of human-techno relationships, artists, creators, engineers, and designers should strive to advocate technological systems that provoke emotive context and meaning in their human counterparts, a goal that is currently neglected by the engineers and consumer designers whom wield control over the consumer market of technological systems. Via focusing initially on mimetic designs that imitate human emotional responses, and eventually evolving into a generative system of simulated emotions and emotive context, artists as well as designers are called by this author to introduce emotive technological systems into the professional field of view and also the mainstream consumer market. As professionals and consumers alike adjust to this new quality of human-techno relationship, not only will the quality of human life improve, but, but these relationship will also be craved by the human interactants until the point is reached wherein human and technological systems interact in a fully-emotive context. The goal of this essay is to prove that technological systems and devices are necessary emotional tools for the development of human-techno relationships with meaningful context, mental growth and progression in an era where social skills and interfaces are on the decline in strictly human-to-human interactions; and second, that it is the duty of artists to initially spread the knowledge of this potential to the technologically dependent masses, due to their freedom from traditional restrictions of patterned thought that the designers and engineers of technological systems so often face. 1 Weizenbaum, Joseph. “Computer Power and Human Reason.”