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I made a website that only works if you’re smiling at it

I made a website that only works if you’re smiling at it.

(Caveat: it doesn’t seem to work on iPhone very well, and I’m not sure about Android, but I’ve tested it across browsers on desktop and iPad.)

Behind the scenes it uses face-api.js to identify your emotion from your webcam, and then applies the result to a CSS opacity filter on an absolutely positioned div. It’s a simple use of a little JavaScript, but it feels freaky - particularly as you continue to read the page, your face forced into a false grin that feels more and more of a burden as time goes on.

I wanted to make two points: that our operating systems will almost certainly be able to adapt to our human context as time goes on at a native level, and that emotional tracking feels invasive.

Other versions might show different content depending on your emotion or on what it thinks your gender is (which, of course, is also a problematic idea).

I stuck it on a domain that I acquired to make a different, dumber joke - Web 8: The Ocho - but it felt like a good home. We’re not that far away from this kind of invasive technology. It may seem horrible to us now, but the Overton window will have been dragged in that direction little by little in the meantime, so when it arrives we’ll likely accept it without question.

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Twitter: @benwerd

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