Building empathy through computer science and art
“You’re looking someone in the eye as they describe death and war conflicts, and seeing their facial expressions and body language. There’s a different level of empathy that you can cultivate with these sorts of technologies.”
Communicating through computers has become an extension of our daily reality. But as speaking via screens has become commonplace, our exchanges are losing inflection, body language, and empathy.
Danielle Olson ’14, a first-year PhD student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), believes we can make digital information-sharing more natural and interpersonal, by creating immersive media to better understand each other’s feelings and backgrounds.
Olson’s research focuses on inventing and analyzing new forms of media, from gaming experiences to interactive narratives. Through a course last fall, she contributed to “The Enemy,” a virtual reality experience that lets users stand “face-to-face” with soldiers from opposing sides of global conflicts.