The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


Creating and Exploring Digital Empathy


Creating and Exploring Digital Empathy

Creating and Exploring Digital Empathy (CEDE) has five core aims and objectives:

To explore and develop the concept of Digital Empathy and how it can be facilitated via innovative methods;

  1. To improve quality of life by enabling a fuller expression of digital personhood;
  2. To reduce isolation across communities/groups and individuals;
  3. To develop new design principles that can be incorporated into systems design to enable empathy to be effectively communicated across the network;
  4. To open up a new domain in digital personhood, applicable across a variety of sectors;
  5. To build the Voight-Kampff machine…

The project creates and explores a new domain in digital personhood – digital empathy – allowing the transmission and communication of empathetic feelings via the network. Currently there are few ways to show a friend, a loved one, a group or a community as a whole that you feel empathetic towards their situation. Innovative methods and novel design, resulting in a series of demonstrators via core user groups, will allow CEDE to enable a fuller expression of what it means to be digitally human and in particular to investigate new methods to feel/express empathy via the network.

CEDE’s wider objective is to add digital empathy as a core component of quality of life, addressing a key UK societal challenge with the potential for long term benefit to society as a whole. In health and social care, interventions aimed at improving quality of life are evaluated via cost per quality adjusted life years (QALYs), digital empathy can transform the Q in the QALY i.e. improve our understanding and measurement of quality of life.

The objective of creating digital empathy opens the potential for radical change in the lives of individuals, society and onwards into industry and business. CEDE has an intentional cross sector focus, with case studies and research related to health, design, and ICT to enhance digital personhood and its potential for the digital economy. The project’s objectives fit at the heart of digital personhood but shift the perception of what it actually means to communicate in digital form. CEDE aims to address the present day failure of digital devices and online communications to facilitate the expression of empathy between people. This leaves the notion of digital personhood, in its current form, devoid of a key component, and it is this component that we aim to address in CEDE.