Dream to Learn is shutting down...

We are very sorry to say that Dream to Learn will be shutting down as of December 28th, 2019. If you have content that you wish to keep, you should make a copy of it before that date.


Emotion is Energy

POSTED IN: Cognitive Wingman

Emotion is Energy

We humans are social creatures and we radiate emotion.    Literally.


We consider our delightful children with beaming personalities who have a positive influence on each other.  Bright students with brilliant ideas and magnetic personality.


We know that bold ideas can be shocking.  Laughter is infectious, and that a few choice words of anger and hatred can chill the atmosphere in a room – or ignite a national conversation.   

The etymology of emotion comes from emovere: to move out and agitate.


As our human tribe continues to grow (nearly 10 billion people by 2050) we are increasingly connected to each other through social media and technology.


We are a rapidly growing and more emotionally connected species.  And this matters.


It matters because the words carry meaning and emotion that can change how people behave, how they perceive, what they believe, and how they act.  It matters because the ideas and emotional energy can now happen at breathtaking speeds, extending across the world.   Emotion can move people to make legislative change; ignite revolutions; sway elections; promote violence and punish corporations.  Emotion motivates and agitates.


So who should care?   Probably everyone, but especially those charged with the stewardship of organizations or nations where this “emotional radiation” can have an impact


  • CEO and Board of a Fortune 500 Company – Public Sentiment / Brand Optics
  • The Homeland Security, Police, and Law Enforcement Agencies - Terrorism
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – Market Manipulation
  • Internet Providers & Social Media Companies – The Message Vectors
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – The Free Speech Defenders
  • Federal Election Commission (FEC) – Voter Fraud
  • US Federal Reserve - Consumer Confidence Index (CCI)
  • US Department of Defense / CIA – Foreign Political and Social Stability


On the final point, the US DOD publishes a Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) that analyzes strategic objectives and potential military threats.  The 2014 QDR includes mixed messages. Optimistically it states “…unprecedented levels of global connectedness provide common incentives for international cooperation and shared norms of behavior” – but more darkly “...the effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”  A mixed bag.


Stewardship requires situational awareness.  So where do we start?


Situational Awareness

By 2020 our accumulated digital universe of data will grow to 44 trillion gigabytes.  A majority of this data is unstructured – including data like tweets, news articles, call center transcripts, Instagram photos, resumes and conference room audio.

Technology systems will be composed to provide Situational Awareness.  This means tools to “crack the carbon” of the unstructured data.  To pull the emotional signal from the data. 

Automation can help - but new ways of architecting the data, composing the systems, and synthesizing the knowledge, will be required.



Many Missions: Toolkit Required


Each mission is different.   The Fortune 500 CEO may be focused on Brand Optics and Public Sentiment.   The INFOSEC professional working for DOD or CIA may be focused on aggregation of intercepts or public social media trends.   Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter will have increasing duties to society to find a balance between free speech and threat reduction.  

All will need mechanisms for signal extraction, and interpretation of the data.

As the intensity and reach of the emotional radiation grow – the tools to measure and manage must evolve with it.




  1. https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/QDR/
  2. https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/features/defenseReviews/QDR/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf
  3. https://www.dni.gov/files/documents/Newsroom/Testimonies/SSCI%20Unclassified%20SFR%20-%20Final.pdf
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_confidence_index
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2015/09/30/big-data-20-mind-boggling-facts-everyone-must-read/#76e4956f17b1


This is my own opinion and the views may or may not reflect those of my employer.

Interested in more content by this author?

About the Author

Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

Hi! I like to play with data, analytics and hack around with robots and gadgets in my garage. Lately I've been learning about machine learning.

About this blog

Cognitive Wingman - Never Walk Alone

Created: December 20, 2016


This Blog Appears in

Up Next