Digital empathy secures Frankenstein's monster

RR Bond, F Engel, M Fuchs, Matthias Hemmje, PM McKevitt, Michael McTear, Maurice Mulvenna, Paul Walsh, Huiru Zheng

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
275 Downloads (Pure)


People’s worries about robot and AI software and how it can go wrong have led them to think of it and its associated algorithms and programs as being like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster. The term Franken-algorithms has been used. Furthermore, there are concerns about driverless cars, automated General Practitioner Doctors (GPs) and robotic surgeons, legal expert systems, and particularly autonomous military drones. Digital Empathy grows when people and computers place themselves in each other’s shoes. Some would argue that for too long people have discriminated against computers and robots by saying that they are only as good as what we put into them. However, in recent times computers have outperformed people, beating world champions at the Asian game of Go (2017), Jeopardy (2011) and chess (1997), mastering precision in medical surgical operations (STAR) and diagnosis (Watson),
and in specific speech and image recognition tasks. Computers have also
composed music (AIVA), generated art (Aaron), stories (Quill) and poetry (Google AI). In terms of calling for more Digital Empathy between machines and people, we refer here to theories, computational models, algorithms and systems for detecting, representing and responding to people’s emotions and sentiment in speech and images but also for people’s goals, plans, beliefs and intentions. In reciprocation, people should have more empathy with machines allowing for their mistakes and also accepting that they will be better than people at performing particular tasks involving large data sets where fast decisions may need to be made, keeping in mind that they are not as prone as people to becoming tired. We conclude that if digital souls are programmed with Digital Empathy, and people have more empathy with them, by doing unto them as we would have them do unto us, this will help to secure Shelley’s monster.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 5th Collaborative European Research Conference (CERC 2019)
PublisherCollaborative European Research Conference
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Mar 2019
EventCollaborative European Research Conference - Hochschule Darmstadt – University of Applied Sciences, Buildings C19, C20, Schöfferstraße 3, Darmstadt, Germany
Duration: 29 Mar 201930 Mar 2019

Publication series

Name CEUR Workshop Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1613-0073


ConferenceCollaborative European Research Conference
Abbreviated titleCERC 2019
Internet address


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