Automating Empathy Away

+ The next crisis after the climate crisis, and an article that might literally save lives (#447)

A quick teaser before we get to this week's recommendations: I've started compiling all your book recommendations — and as in previous years, I'm impressed by the depth and breadth of the all the contributions. So is, apparently, ChatGPT. I gave it the complete list and asked it what it can say about a person that likes these books:

This reading list is quite eclectic, with wide-ranging interests across a broad spectrum of genres and disciplines. Overall, this person's reading list indicates a well-rounded reader with a thirst for knowledge and understanding in a variety of domains, from personal growth to social issues and from environmental consciousness to explorations of history and alternative perspectives.

I think I'll be ready next week. Until then...

1. A rise in self-service technologies may cause a decline in our sense of community

As we increasingly substitute human contact for robot-based interactions — think self-checkout counters or ordering food via delivery apps — do we become less empathetic? It might well be. «However fleeting, exposure to people outside of your own socio-demographic groups affect attitudes positively. [...] Face-to-face interaction typically reduces intergroup prejudice.»

A rise in self-service technologies may cause a decline in our sense of community
Self-service technologies — like self-checkouts or government service kiosks — are decreasing interactions with other people. This may affect our politics and sense of community.

2. Deep warming

Even when we find ways out of the current climate crisis, the laws of thermodynamics will have another challenge for us: waste heat. This kind of warming won't a problem now or in the near future, but maybe in 150 years. And a lot depends upon which new energy sources we replace fossil fuels with.

There’s a deeper problem hiding beneath global warming | Aeon Essays
Even if we ‘solve’ global warming, we face an older, slower problem. Waste heat could radically alter Earth’s future

3. ​​Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

It's rare that reading an article might literally save lives. That's why I re-share this piece that I've featured twice before in the Weekly Filet. Movies and Baywatch have given us a misleading impression of what drowning looks like — so we might not see it if somebody was drowning right in front of us.

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning – Mario Vittone