• By Sin Mei C
  • September 26, 2014

Technology as mirror for our emotions, trust and privacy for the IoT, and Harry Potter's happiness (#wic)

Must-reads on technology as an emotional mirror, privacy advice for the companies ‘creating’ Internet of Things, AI that helps you manage your schedule and the emotional dynamics of Harry Potter books.

This Week in Context

Your Weekly Update on All Things Context, September 26 2014


“Privacy and data protection are the cornerstones of trust the society will place in the Internet of Things ecosystem.”

– Article 29 Working Party, press release

5 Must-Reads

1. Technology as an emotional mirror? Emerging tech promise to quantify emotions

Through sentiment analysis on text and speech, as well as taking our behaviour – and sometimes even biometric information – into account, technology is becoming increasingly capable of knowing how we ‘feel’. This promises to make it easier to track, and thus understand, how websites, mobile applications, and ads impact the emotional state of user. This advance will also allows us to self-scrutinise our emotions – by letting technology judge the underlying tone of our communications, for example. (Via Koen Willaert)

2. The EU’s WP29 takes a stand on the Internet of Things, reminds manufacturers non-users have rights too

The EU’s Article 29 Working Party (WP29) has issued a new opinion on the Internet of Things (IoT), which it says is “is on the threshold of integration into the lives of European citizens.” (accompanying press release) In it, WP29 recognises that many questions arise around the vulnerability of IoT devices, data losses, malware and unauthorised access to personal data, and makes sure to point out that non-users can be data subjects with their proper rights just as well.  A must-read if your profession or interest lie in wearable computing, quantified self and home automation – or if the people around you sport such devices.  (Mentioned at an exceptionally educational DPO course.)

3. Need help managing your meetings and calendar? AI to the rescue! 

In just under 10 minutes, there’s an incoming tweet from your customer, two mails from your boss, text message from supplier, three HipChat messages from the colleagues, and – how vintage – a phone call from your partner. Sounds familiar? The last decades, requests for your attention and time have increased tenfolds, whilst time available a day has remained steady at 24 hours. Most of us could do with a human-error free personal assistant that lessens the time spent on scheduling. No surprise then that Clara, contextually-aware artificial intelligence software that automates meeting coordination over email and manages your calendar for you, is landing plenty of Y-combinator funding. Maran indicated there were big plans for the company beyond just that. (Nominated by our Head of Operations. Vince, does that mean we’ll have a Clara in the office soon?)

(Before you put blind trust in Clara – or any artificial intelligence, keep in mind that when AI learns from human decisions given a certain situation, it sometimes picks up the ‘wrong’ (or non-prefered) but frequently occurring habits just as well.) 

4. Our other senses: building more natural interfaces that incorporate human senses and traits

Although AI solutions are often referred to as a magical ‘sixth sense’, technology is still catching up with our other five. In a Sense of Technology, author Samuel Greenyard has a look at how tech is doing as it comes to the more commonly possessed senses such as taste, touch and smell. Great read and thoughts on how capturing input related to physical properties of our surroundings beyond xyz-coordinates, and generating a more ‘physically perceivable’ output.

5. How Main Street Will Pay for Home Depot’s Data Breach

US federal law protects consumers from the cost of fraudulent charges incurred when thieves steal credit-card and debit-card numbers. That’s good for the millions of Americans who had their payments data exposed by the hackers who breached Home Depot’s computer system earlier this year. And it’s bad for merchants, who often take losses on sales made to crooks with stolen cards; Business Week explains.

A Work of Art & Tech

The Hedonometer Books project maps the emotional dynamics of literary classics (and some more popular works). It charts the emotion over time for literacy classics such as Don Quixote, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Wuthering Heights. Worth having a look at this book-lenght text sentiment analysis, as the per word average happiness shift also shows which terms have a more stronger influence on the ratings.


Below you see a happiness time series comparison of Harry Potter books “The Sorcerer’s Stone”, “The Order of the Phoenix” and “The Deathly Hallows”.

Have a great weekend!
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