Skip to main content

Emotional AI in Cities: Cross Cultural Lessons from UK and Japan on Designing for An Ethical Life

The Emotional AI in Cities project seeks to answer how UK and Japanese societies can best live with technologies that sense, profile, learn and interact with people’s feelings, emotions and moods.

AI Japan cities

Dr Lachlan Urquhart, Lecturer in Technology Law at Edinburgh Law School, joins a team of researchers on the project, 'Emotional AI in Cities: Cross Cultural Lessons from UK and Japan on Designing for an Ethical Life,' which is joint funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Japan Science & Technology Agency, as part of the UKRI-JST Joint Call on Artificial Intelligence and Society.

The three-year project began in January 2020 and will explore biometric and online technologies that sense, learn and interact with emotions, moods, attention and intentions, and examine the societal implications of these technologies in cities both in the UK and Japan. The research team aims to assess what it means to live ethically and well with Emotional AI in smart cities in cross-cultural commercial, security and media contexts. 

As well as interviewing key stakeholders developing or deploying emotional AI in smart cities, the team will examine governance approaches (laws, norms, values) for collection and use of intimate data about emotions in public spaces to understand how these guide Emotional AI technological developments. Ultimately, it aims to feed all the research insights, including citizens’ views, back to the diverse stakeholders shaping usage of Emotional AI in cities. 

The UK team is led by Bangor University with colleagues from Edinburgh Law School and the University of Northumbria, and the Japan team is led by Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University with colleagues from Meiji University and Chuo University.