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How can a population or civilization develop empathy to the point where they feel another beings emotion if they are only a few feet away regardless of species and even if they are familiar with the emotion or not. The only limitation is that they cannot broadcast emotions, just receive them.

The level of empathy ability I am looking at is above what humans have today. More in line with strong telekinesis or telepathic abilities.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by StephenG, Green, RonJohn, Andon, JBH Apr 13 '18 at 2:59

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ How do humans ? We (mostly) feel empathy towards other humans, dogs, cats, animals, fish and Mr. Spock. Empathy is a psychological projection of self onto what happens someone or something else. Empathy is a vast subject for study and I think this may be too broad a subject for Worldbuilding. I would (as a personal opinion) suggest species that develop social groupings will tend to develop empathy as a cognitive function for survival as a result of evolution - i.e. it's a positive survival trait for a species. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Apr 13 '18 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, although the empathy level I am thinking about is above that what we have today. To clarify, its almost like a psionic ability like telekinesis or telepathy. $\endgroup$ – Arkhaine Apr 13 '18 at 1:11
  • $\begingroup$ You can achieve your need for really high empathy levels by simply making normal humans more in-tune the body language of the people around them. Most men are pretty stupid about body language. Women are usually better about it. If you raise everyone's body language skill, then magically, everyone will be more empathic. $\endgroup$ – Green Apr 13 '18 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ Allow me to explain my VTC. We don't understand how to influence evolution genetically and waiting for it takes a bazaillion years - which means no one can answer your question objectively. There's simply no basis for an answer that isn't a bald-faced guess, other than Henry's technological answer (whch probably won't work on fish, though you seem to want that, too). That makes this question primarily opinion-based. Unless the "how" of this matter is absolutely critical to your story, you need to do what nearly all authors do, ignore the "how" and move on with your story. $\endgroup$ – JBH Apr 13 '18 at 3:03
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, fair enough, I was thinking if there is no reasonable scientific way then I would probably have to opt for a "high science" fictional solution like a gland implant. I'll accept the community's decision to label this as more of opinion based. Henry's answer also helped. $\endgroup$ – Arkhaine Apr 13 '18 at 4:06
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The way you phrased your question actually allows for one solution which is simultaneously "science-based" and yet "almost like a psionic ability". But to earn the evolution tag, we must stretch its definition to include the products "developed by" naturally evolved intelligence, such as technology...

We need to start with the Emotion API which is part of the Azure Cognitive Services. This is a software service product, which when fed a still image or video stream, will interpret the emotional state of any human faces which it "sees".

Now take this product and let it mature at the speed of technology and it will undoubtedly become staggeringly accurate; interpreting barely visible micro-muscular facial motions with instantaneous speed and near perfect accuracy.

Once the service is ready, all we need to do is integrate it into the next generation computer interface which Samsung and others are working on, contact lenses.

If such a product became commercially available, they would quickly saturate all markets; probably even faster than cell phones did. Anyone wearing them would have such an advantage over everyone else that soon everyone would have to have them.

It isn't really evolution, but I would not be surprised if it's a genuine prophecy. I can't wait to buy mine.

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