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Emotional Artificial Intelligence, Emotional Surveillance, and the Right to Freedom of Thought

EasyChair Preprint no. 5371

20 pagesDate: April 24, 2021


This paper assesses the impact of emotional artificial intelligence (EAI) on the right to freedom of thought. The paper finds that EAI poses challenges to three key elements of freedom of thought: the right not to reveal one’s thoughts, the right not to have one’s thoughts manipulated, and the right not to be punished for one’s thoughts. However, these elements are at a latent stage in IHRL, with very little case law or soft law relating to freedom of thought specifically. The paper also contributes an analysis of EAI from a surveillance studies perspective, discussing the motivations for, mechanisms of, and subsequent consequences of emotional surveillance. EAI uses machine learning and other techniques to read, interpret, and predict people’s emotions using various data sources as inputs and producing outputs such as emotional classification and confidence score. Despite significant criticisms of the underlying assumptions of EAI, it is being used for a multitude of surveillance purposes. The paper briefly explains EAI, before exploring some examples of EAI’s actual and potential uses for surveillance purposes. The main body of the paper is then split into two sections. The first section analyses the nature of emotional surveillance; what causes it? How does it operate? What are its effects? It also discusses the body-objectifying and predictive nature of emotional surveillance. The second section adopts an approach suggested by McGregor, Murray, and Ng,* who argue that IHRL offers an effective, ready-made framework for defining, assessing, and addressing the harms caused by AI. Applying IHRL as an analytical framework, this paper assesses the impact of emotional surveillance on the right to freedom of thought, in the process highlighting some of the strengths and weaknesses of IHRL.

* Lorna McGregor, Daragh Murray and Vivian Ng, ‘International Human Rights Law as a Framework for Algorithmic Accountability’ (2019) 68 (2) ICLQ

Keyphrases: emotional artificial intelligence, emotional surveillance, forum internum, Freedom of Thought, International Human Rights Law, surveillance

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Robbie Scarff},
  title = {Emotional Artificial Intelligence, Emotional Surveillance, and the Right to Freedom of Thought},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 5371},

  year = {EasyChair, 2021}}
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