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Ethics for a Digital Age, Vol. II

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Edited By Bastiaan Vanacker and Don Heider

The second volume of Ethics for a Digital Age contains a selection of research presented at the fifth and sixth Annual International Symposia on Digital Ethics hosted by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Communication. Thematically organized around the most pressing ethical issues of the digital age from a professional (parts one and two) and a philosophical perspective (part three), the chapters of this volume offer the reader a window into some of the hot-button ethical issues facing a society where digital has become the new normal. Just as was the case in the first volume, this collection attempts to bridge applied and theoretical approaches to digital ethics. The case studies in this work are grounded in theory and the theoretical pieces are linked back to specific cases, reflecting the multi-methodological and multi-disciplinarian approach espoused by Loyola’s Center of Digital Ethics and Policy during its eight years of existence. With contributions by experts from a variety of academic disciplines, this work will appeal to philosophers, communication scientists, and moral philosophers alike.

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1. Media That Know How You Feel: The Ethics of Emotion Analytics in Consumer Media (Susan Currie Sivek)

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1.  Media That Know How You Feel: The Ethics of Emotion Analytics in Consumer Media

SUSAN CURRIE SIVEK

It’s a moment that can strain even the best relationship. A couple sits on the couch after a long day, ready for an escape into the multitude of worlds offered by Netflix. They click restlessly from title to title, evaluating plot summaries and star ratings, searching for the perfect movie that will satisfy their emotional needs. The inefficiency and conflict of the search wear on them. Eventually, they give up and just go to bed.

For better or worse, new technologies may soon prevent this fruitless search scenario. Instead of requiring users to evaluate media options on their own, media recommendation and targeting engines will use emotion analytics to assess users’ emotional states and match them to suitable media and advertising. Emotion analytics draws upon omnipresent mobile devices, increasingly low-cost and powerful cloud computing, biometric sensors embedded in multiple consumer products, and social media input provided by consumers themselves to determine how audiences feel at any given moment. Users of digital media providers—like the couple above, stumped by Netflix’s huge range of choices—will likely receive suggestions or feeds of media that have been shaped by emotion analytics, thereby more easily finding options that suit their current emotional status and needs.

Avoiding the Netflix crisis described above sounds desirable, to be sure. Yet the growth of emotion...

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