The Shift from a Thinking to Feeling Economy

A summary of the main point from the book "The Feeling Economy" by Roland T. Rust and Ming-Hui Yuang, which is that we’ve gone from a Physical Economy (manufacturing) to a Thinking Economy (information) and are now entering a Feeling Economy (empathy).

Your career and future employability will depend on how you add value in a world where AI (artificial intelligence) + HI (human intelligence) are converging. Reading faces (facial coding), voices (e.g., Apple’s Siri) and bodies (via Fitbit) fit a world in which your emotional intelligence skills will be vital.

Here are some signposts of the basic socio-economic change underway from a thinking to feeling model:

1987: FCC repeals Fairness Doctrine, opening the way for Rush LimbaughFox News will launch in 1996

1995: Daniel Goleman publishes Emotional Intelligence

1997: Big Blue (IBM) defeats world chess champion Garry Kasparov; emojisfirst appear in Japanese mobile phones

1998: launch of Google & also Sensory Logic (my company, using facial coding to capture/quantify emotions)

2001: release of Stephen Spielberg movie AI Artificial Intelligence

2004: Facebook launches

2005: Malcolm Gladwell publishes Blink (which highlights facial coding)

2007: Fitbit launches; I release my book Emotionomics

2009: Lie to Me TV series based on facial coding launches on Fox (#29 most-viewed show that season); Affectiva and Realeyes switch to applying (automated) facial coding to business in imitation of Sensory Logic

2011: launch of the 1st digital assistant, Apple’s Siri

2014: SoftBank Robotic’s Pepperis 1st social humanoid robot

2016: Apple buys Emotient, the original facial coding automation company

2017: Female robot Sophia named an AI citizen in Saudi Arabia

Released today: episode #44 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Ming-Hui Huang, the co-author of The Feeling Economy: How Artificial Intelligence Is Creating the Era of Empathy. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.

Image of Author Ming-Hui Huang and her book "The Feeling Economy" for episode 44 of Dan Hill's EQ Spotlight, titled When A.I. Thinks, Humans Feel. Click on the image to get to podcast link.

Huang Ming-Hui Huang holds a number of posts. She’s a Distinguished Professor at National Taiwan University; a fellow of the European Marketing Academy (EMAC); an International Research Fellow of the Centre for Corporate Reputation, University of Oxford, UK; and a Distinguished Research Fellow of the Center for Excellence in Service, University of Maryland, USA. She is also the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Service Research.

Dan Hill, PhD, is the president of Sensory Logic, Inc. His latest book, available on Amazon is Blah, Blah, Blah: A Snarky Guide to Office Lingo.

For Portraits and Selfies: A Case of Monkey See, Monkey Not-Quite-Do

Portraits and Selfies Re-enactment of famous Art

Emotions can be as contagious as Covid-19, but that doesn’t mean the facial expressions are easy to capture when art devotees around the world use their imaginations in wonderful ways to recreate famous works of art at home. The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles have gotten into the act, encouraging art lovers to re-stage famous art works. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/museum-asking-people-remake-famous-artworks-with-household-items-180974546/  But no entity has surpassed a Facebook group, started in Russia, that boasts over half a million art re-enactors. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/25/world/europe/russia-Facebook-art-parodies.html  If you’re a painter or photographer who does portrait work – or somebody who likes to pose for selfies and are interested in what your expressions reveal about your mood that day or your personality, over time – listen in. Here’s an opportunity to sharpen your skills or pose. For my book Famous Faces Decoded: A Guidebook for Reading Others, I surveyed participants on what they viewed as the signature, characteristic emotions of 173 celebrities. On average, they were right only about 35% of the time – meaning there’s no shame in failing to detect emotions well. Join the crowd. We’re all more likely to be Watson rather than Sherlock Holmes!

In terms of life imitating art, just how good are the re-enactors at capturing correct facial expressions? In truth pretty good, but not great. Above on the left side is “Salome” with the head of John the Baptist by the 17th-century Bolognese painter Guido Reni. On the right is that same painting’s recent staging by Aglaya Nikonorova and her husband, Alexander. What’s faithful to the original, in terms of the couple’s facial expressions? Both women have wide open eyes (anger, fear and surprise), pursed lips (anger) and a smirk on the left side of their mouths (contempt). So far, so good. But the original Salome also has a pouty, raised chin (indicating anger, sadness and disgust), whereas the imitation includes a raised left eyebrow, indicating an extra dose of fear and surprise. That difference is trifling, however, compared to John the Baptist’s head. In the original, the eyes are sunken in grief with a pool of wrinkles above them, and the eyebrows are raised, pushed out and pinched together above the nose. In the re-enactment John the Baptist appears to be taking a nap, with his face relaxed. Further reinforcing the difference, in the original John’s lips are slightly apart and pulled down, triggering the viewer to feel the horror of getting beheaded, and perhaps inducing a contagious tremble. In contrast, in the re-enactment John’s lips appear just as peaceful as his eyes. In short, it’s a matter of being close – but no cigar.

In simple terms, these are important take-aways about where and how people express their emotions on their faces whenever contemplating a portrait or selfie:

  • The upper face is the place for surprise and fear. When the eyes go wide and the eyebrows lift, we’re increasing our field of vision.
  • The area around the mouth reveals the like/dislike reactions best. Look for anger (tightening), disgust (contortions) or sadness (wincing especially).
  • The chin area never reveals any happiness. It’s best for wide-mouth surprise and fear, or a jutting chin for anger.

More re-enactments will be included in my virtual talk, sponsored by the Duluth Art Institute on Thursday, May 28that 3 p.m. The heart of the presentation, however, will be highlights from my recent art book First Blush: People’s Intuitive Reactions to Famous Art. It’s the biggest study ever done involving eye-tracking and art – plus facial coding of participants’ responses, in order to also know how they feel about what they’re specifically seeing. The event is free but you must register. Please go to https://www.duluthartinstitute.org/event-3843385/Registration

Mark Zuckerberg’s Emotional DNA

Mark Zuckerberg's emotional DNA

Next up in my series on the celebrities I analyzed for Famous Faces Decoded is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, born on this day in 1984. Which two emotions most distinguish Zuckerberg from the 173 celebrities I facially coded for my book?

The people I surveyed said happiness and joy. The truth is, yes, joy distinguishes Zuckerberg – as shown here. With a true, joyful smile, the muscle around the eye tightens, creating a sparkle that can’t be readily faked. Think of joy as the equivalent of drinking champagne, which Zuckerberg can afford many cases of at this point in his career! In contrast, what is Zuckerberg’s second most characteristic emotion? It’s anger; should you doubt me, check out his appearances before Congress in April of 2018. As to Zuckerberg’s least characteristic emotion, it’s fear.

Monetizing the Presidency

Tump Store cherry blossom White House

Last spring, Donald Trump launched his “Cherry Blossom Collection” available online at his Trump Store, complete with images of The White House appearing below the branding: Trump Hotels. Now for his encore performance, Trump has delayed the release of the Covid-19 economic stimulus checks so that his name can be added to the checks’ memo section. This break in protocol led me to imagine he might want a currency bill of his own. Which national leaders featured on U.S. paper bills would most compete with the highly-emotive Trump? There are two.

Jackson and Franklin on currency with facial coding

First, Trump’s favorite president, Andrew Jackson ($20) wins the sadness sweepstakes with eyebrows both raised and pinched together, creating waves of wrinkles across his forehead. Jackson’s mouth also shows sadness with left corner of his puckered mouth drooping. Second, Benjamin Franklin ($100) wins the defiantly on-guard award. His eyebrows are arched, his eyes wide, and his drawn-up chin collides with firmly pressed lips that hint at a smile while a smirk crowns the left corner of his mouth. It’s quite the feat: surprise in Franklin’s upper face, while his lower faces mixes together anger, disgust, and a hint of a smile overshadowed by contempt (i.e., the smirk).

Let’s imagine Trump really, really, really wants to win re-election. What might that take? My suggestion is that he substitute his characteristically angry, sad and disgust-ridden face for Woodrow Wilson’s tight-lipped look, and re-release the $100,000 gold certificate that was briefly in circulation amid the Great Depression. As unemployment skyrockets, I can’t think of more apt symbolism than that right now.

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