Link Roundup: August 2022

In case anyone’s interested, this month I wrote a whirlwind history of asexual communities.

Facial Expressions Do Not Reveal Emotions | Scientific American – I’m a big fan of psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett and her writing about the construction of emotional categories.  Here she criticizes emotional recognition tools created by data scientists, and I’m inclined to agree.  AI can, at best, identify patterns in facial muscle movement, but the correspondence between facial muscle movement and emotions is culturally mediated, because the emotional categories themselves are culturally constructed.  If you use this AI to make any important decisions that impact people’s lives, there will be unacceptable disparate impact against people of different cultures, or with variant emotional expressions.  Frankly, we should be striving to reduce the impact of emotional expression in job interviews and court decisions.  It’s discriminatory enough when humans are the ones doing it.

Blame It on the Game | Real Life – When I was a teenager, there was a lot of fear of censorship in video games.  The big thing was the Hot Coffee controversy, but there was also a lot of defensiveness of the violence in video games, which gamers would insist was unconnected to violence in the real world.  Games criticism has changed a lot since back then, and gamers are more likely to play up how much games impact the real world.  Gamers today aren’t wrong, but neither were they wrong back then.  The research on violent video games finds “small, reliable effect of exposure to violent video games on aggressive outcomes in laboratory experiments and cross-sectional and longitudinal studies,” but that’s still pretty far from causing shootings.  In this article, Katherine Cross navigates old and new discourses to talk about the real significance of video game violence.

Elon’s Out | Bloomberg – Matt Levine explains in detail Elon Musk’s legal arguments about why he doesn’t need to pay the penalty for backing out of the twitter deal.  This is some great schadenfreude, but pity that even in the worst possible outcomes for Musk, he’s still wealthier than anyone could possibly deserve to be, and his money just goes to Twitter investors.  (This is from last month, so it might be out of date.)

Study: Why We Think All People of Different Races Look the Same | Skepchick (video+transcript) – Rebecca Watson talks about research on facial recognition, and then veers into a discussion of face-blindness.  My husband is in the lowest percentile of facial recognition, and what I’ve learned is that it has surprising social repercussions.  People regularly expect him to recognize them and it seems rude to ask.  And yes, I think people who have trouble with faces of different races should be given a break.  Yeah, it says something about the role of race in society, but people can’t really help it, and facial recognition shouldn’t be a social requirement.

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