The Limits of Virtual Reality: Debugging the Empathy Machine | MIT

by Ainsley Sutherland

Be Another Lab, the creative collective behind Machine, is not necessarily interested in the complete reconstruction of the subjective experience of “the other”, nor only in straightforward social perspective-taking. In this performance piece, they explore how the boundaries of the “self” can be manipulated and perhaps expanded.

This case study describes the Machine to be Another project, examines the role of empathy in this work, reactions to the project– including my own– and discusses the technologies involved in its implementation. Some guiding questions are:

  • 1) how can artistic intervention relate to discoveries in psychology and biology, and
  • 2) what effects are obscured when “empathy” is used as a cover-all description of impact?