Adversarial Uses of Affective Computing and Ethical Implications

by Carson Reynolds

Adversarial Uses of Affective Computing and Ethical Implications (pdf) is my doctoral thesis.

Here is the abstract:

Much existing affective computing research focuses on systems designed to use information related to emotion to benefit users. Many technologies are used in situations their designers didn’t anticipate and would not have intended. This thesis discusses several adversarial uses of affective computing: use of systems with the goal of hindering some users. The approach taken is twofold: first experimental observation of use of systems that collect affective signals and transmit them to an adversary; second discussion of normative ethical judgments regarding adversarial uses of these same systems. This thesis examines three adversarial contexts: the Quiz Experiment, the Interview Experiment, and the Poker Experiment. In the Quiz Experiment, participants perform a tedious task that allows increasing their monetary reward by reporting they solved more problems than they actually did. The Interview Experiment centers on a job interview where some participants hide or distort information, interviewers are rewarded for hiring the honest, and where interviewees are rewarded for being hired. In the Poker Experiment subjects are asked to play a simple poker-like game against an adversary who has extra affective or game state information. These experiments extend existing work on ethical implications of polygraphs by considering variables (e.g. context or power relationships) other than recognition rate and using systems where information is completely mediated by computers. In all three experiments it is hypothesized that participants using systems that sense and transmit affective information to an adversary will have degraded performance and significantly different ethical evaluations than those using comparable systems that do not sense or transmit affective information. Analysis of the results of these experiments shows a complex situation in which the context of using affective computing systems bears heavily on reports dealing with ethical implications. The contribution of this thesis is these novel experiments that solicit participant opinion about ethical implications of actual affective computing systems and dimensional metaethics, a procedure for anticipating ethical problems with affective computing systems.

Cite as:

Reynolds, C. (2005) Adversarial Uses of Affective Computing and Ethical Implications, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.Thesis, September 2005.