Meanwhile in the Future: We’ve Invented an Empathy Machine

When you were a kid and stole your friends’ toys, your parent probably asked you this angry hypothetical: “How do you think that made them feel?” But what if you actually could feel what another person is feeling? This week, we travel to a future where humans have invented an empathy machine.

Before we dive into what that machine might do to our world, let’s pause for a minute to think about what empathy actually is. There are two forms of empathy: cognitive empathy and emotional empathy. So says Maia Szalavitz, a journalist and coauthor of the book Born for Love: Why Empathy is Essential — and Endangered. She walks us through the differences between the two types.