This book claims classic status, and argues that computers may need to have emotions too in the future. It travels from the realms of the `universal' language of human facial emotion, through brain structure, to discuss the social and biological value of the emotions. In the process, it argues that Spock could never have evolved, because emotions are so important in effective decision-making alongside Spock-like reason.
It travels on from that to efforts at philosophy - defining emotions - in ways which gloss over the physiological basis of emotions in the brain and in physical impact on the body - so it is easier for him to argue that computers could truly have emotions. Interestingly, the picture he uses of two robots falling in love is of course of two robots in human bodies.
Much of this is superficial. But there are gems of insight and nuggets of information reviewing the experimental literature - some good stories along the way ranging from how we flirt when anxious, to tips for interior decor!
Emotions are effective decision-takers guiding natural selection - they help us make better decisions eg to protect a friend from death, to help each other, to run away, and they help us because we anticipate those emotions and therefore act to avoid or achieve them, learning to do so from others as well as by experience. OK. It's a sensible argument, and the emotional brain doesn't do it rationally, it goes straight from sensory thalamus to amygdale and emotional response, often bypassing the cortex that may attempt to rationalise or reassess afterwards.
There is a good discussion of the pluses and minuses of talking to manage emotion - joking, venting, eliminating negative thoughts. But sometimes it helps just to forget about things - `in one study of road accident victims, those who had undergone debriefing had more flashbacks and more fear a year after the accident than those who had not.'
The book ends on a nice jibe at economists - after various accounts of how we can be manipulated. An economist is a person who, given a set of preferences, will act to `maximise' these preferences. But there is no such thing in economics as an irrational preference. Economics `says nothing about where these preferences come from, nor whether it is rational to have some preferences rather than others... This seems crazy to me.'