Daniel White

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Cambridge, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10193

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

White, Daniel (Cambridge, U. of) "Technically Well: Contemplative Technologies and the Politics of Human-Centered AI in Japan"

DANIEL WHITE, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, was awarded a Hunt Fellowship in October 2021 to aid research and writing on “Technically Well: Contemplative Technologies and the Politics of Human-Centered AI in Japan.” Techniallly Well documents collaborations between AI engineers and Buddhist contemplatives in Japan that seek to design models of emotional wellbeing to inform new digital health technologies. These collaborations emerged from a recognition among digital health researchers in Japan that recent government investments in Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence for wellbeing draw on narrow definitions of the human and human emotion. Such definitions come largely from Western philosophy and psychology, and encourage approaches to AI that advance universal models of emotion and the collection of quantitative data to inform new health technologies, such as wearable devices or companion robots equipped with elementary forms for artificial emotional intelligence. By contrast, the analysis of Buddhist approaches to health technologies in Japan demonstrate the non-Western contemplative traditions can add to understanding the qualitative and culturally particularly dimensions of emotional wellbeing. Based on fieldwork among AI researchers and Buddhist contemplatives in Japan, this research examines how Buddhist approaches to AI development challenge emotional AI technologies based primarily on Western psychology. Its primary research outputs are two forthcoming ethnographic duographs: Model Emotion: AI, Robots, and the Future of Intimacy in Japan and Technically Well: AI, Buddhism, and Emotional Health Beyond the Human. Other project publications are catalogued at modelemotion.org.