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Sinister psychologist app ‘Karen’ shows our private lives are no longer private

A new Kickstarter-funded app called Karen wants to psychologically profile you based upon your personality and smartphone use, 

Karen, which is one part interactive art and one part social experiment, will put users in touch with an ever-so-slightly deranged virtual life coach with some serious boundary issues. Over the course of a week she’ll learn as much as possible about you via a series of Q & A sessions and the data she plucks from your mobile, before presenting you with her findings – for better or for worse.

From what we’ve gleamed, Karen will break the ice with some simple psychological testing techniques, to get an idea of how your mind works. But when your guard is down, she’ll become more and more interested in your personal life in an almost stalker-esque manner. You’ll have to deal with her increasingly probing questions and interruptions, which will come at all hours of the day, and how you decide to deal with these intrusions will contribute to the in-depth profile which is eventually constructed.

At the end of the seven days you’ll be given the chance to buy your very own tailored personal profile, based upon your interactions with her and data mined from the depths of your smartphone.

The app was conceived by artists collective Blast Theory, who came up with the idea of presenting users with an interactive story designed to throw light on the data mining which goes on every day without our consent, by the likes of Facebook and Google. Blast Theory aims to show us exactly how much can actually be learned if you know how to read the data on offer, revealing a terrifying amount about each subject’s personality.

Karen was developed by the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab, a group of academics who study the ways in which technology shapes people’s lives. The devs also drew help from Dr Kelly Page, an expert in data analysis who contributed to Google’s ad network, as well as the National Theatre Wales and art website ‘The Space’.

You’ll be able to download the app and get to grips with Karen soon, by searching for “Karen is my lifecoach” in your app store of choice… if you’re brave enough.


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