Emotion Hacking

All too often, technologies that provide unprecedented capacity for good bring about equally unprecedented capacity for abuse and manipulation. This will be especially true for a networked commons of emotion.

To start, bullies or criminals may gain unwelcome access to their victims’ private emotional information to exploit their weaknesses, and even take over machines to inflict physical or emotional pain.





The potential for manipulation doesn’t just exist among rogue criminal hackers. Corrupt or aggressive state actors may mobilize resources at even greater scale to conduct surveillance, drum up political support, or initiate emotional warfare.



To counter these effects, we will explore new means of storing sensitive personal information and providing permissioned access to trusted entities.



In the face of these threats, we may need to come together across borders to agree on unacceptable forms of manipulation and hacking. This is not without precedent; the Geneva Protocols banned chemical and biological weapon use back in the 1920s. A similar approach may be difficult in an anonymized digital world, but this could form the basis of standards for international intervention once attacks are discovered. IFTF has explored similar potential in a Magna Cortica: an international or national document stating rights and responsibilities of cognitive enhancement.

Hacking isn’t always bad, though. We may see innovation around these products and systems as people use or break them in unexpected ways. New artistic pieces, health-boosting applications, and novel social networks could emerge from permission-less grassroots efforts.

How might we protect ourselves from attacks while maximizing ethical and positive development?