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What Makes Us Human?


What Makes Us Human?

What is it that makes a human, human? Religion might tell you that a human is human because they have a purpose and place in fulfilling the plans of supernatural forces. Biologically, we share over 90% of our DNA with other living species, even the earthworm. The remaining 10% difference in genetic makeup is what makes us human.

Though we can exhibit this same component in other animals like chimpanzees, I believe that one of the core traits that defines us as humans is emotion. Emotions are involved with every aspect of our lives. It’s true some people might be good at hiding them, so well to a point where they actually seem devoid of feelings but whether we like it or not, they’re there. With something that is so integrated into our everyday lives, it is amazing how emotions can easily be blocked or lost in cyberspace; technology, another part of our world that nowadays, is debatebly up there with our friends and family in importance. I guess you can send a smiley face to show you’re happy, a sad face when you’re sad and if you really want to get fancy, one of these:

(ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻. Technology today is full of IQ but no EQ at all. It’s great at cognitive intelligence but not so great at emotional intelligence. So what if our technology could sense our emotions?

That is exactly how Rana felt. Rana el Kaliouby, is a computer scientist who went to PHD program at Cambridge University. She later moved on to MIT where she and a team started a company called affectiva.

“Our emotions influence every aspect of our lives — how we learn, how we communicate, how we make decisions. Yet they’re absent from our digital lives; the devices and apps we interact with have no way of knowing how we feel.“

In this TED talk, Rana talks about how she came to creating affectiva, her own story that really drove the original vision and mission. She wants to bring emotions back into digital experiences.

After watching her talk, I felt like what she was working towards really resonates with me and 100% with the values of H+Technology. She had even used the two words “humanizing technology”. I like that she talks about the issue of people spending large amounts of their time looking at screens, yet they have no idea how users feel. This is one of the problems that we are aiming to solve at H+. Rana mentions how our face is one of the most powerful channels to communicate social and emotional state. Our face has about 45 action units that combine to express hundreds of emotions.

Affectiva senses expressions

So with Holus, we’ve brought digital content into physical space and by putting it at the center and have made it easier for players to see one another.

I’m excited to see all the applications that developers can create. Particularly, I too could probably use a fridge that auto-locks when it senses stress.

- Bond, Marketing Assistant

Cambridge H+Technology holography Holomax Holus hplustech human kickstarter MIT Rana el Kaliouby TED