We don´t need Blade´s Runner empathy-detection device!
Intelligence, in any degree, can be found throughout the phylum or biological order, but empathy exists only in the human specie once the empathic capacity requires an instinctive group.
The gift of empathy blurs the boundaries between the hunter and the victim, between winner and loser.
Yes, empathy is in vogue. But it has been studied for centuries by scholars in many fields. Increased availability of neuroimaging methods, such as fMRI, has led to a growing understanding of the neurophysiological explanation behind the empathy phenomenon. Studies have shown that when one is feeling empathy for another, the neural networks that are activated are similar to the ones activated when directly experiencing the emotion they are showing empathy for. It has also been claimed that mirror neurons, which fire both when an individual performs an action and when it sees others performing that action, are the basis for feeling empathy. There is still much research to be done in the field of social neuroscience, and in the field of empathy in particular. (Lamm and Majdandžića)
In Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick’s science fiction book Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’, a similar empathy-detection device were used to measure tenderness or affection felt towards others. Called the Voight-Kampff machine, it was used to distinguish humans from “replicants”, or androids.
Recently, researchers from Brazil have mapped the areas of the brain affected when we experience feelings of empathy, pictured. It is the first time empathetic feelings across the whole brain have been identified using scans. Using these patterns, and a combination of brain scans and emotional feedback techniques, they were able to help participants develop feelings of affection and tenderness.
Maybe we don´t need to prove our humanity, as the central theme of Blade Runner´s. But we know we need to train our empathy and transcend from and individual world to a collective humanitarian approach to life.
And yes, there has been a sharp decline in the level of empathy in our society. In a recent study focused on college students in the US, it was found that empathy levels have dropped 48% between 1979 and 2009, with the most dramatic decline found in students after the year 2000 (Konarth et al).
Empathy is a key to see us connected with everything else. If we understand that connectivity we will never do to the planet what we are doing. in Beyond The Horizon, http://www.aol.com/beyondthehorizon/
The reality is that which, when you stop believing, does not disappear. “ PKD