There is a growing confidence amongst many in the robotics industry that within five years artificial intelligence will become emotionally aware. The CEO and co-founder of Affectiva, Rana el Kaliouby, believes that her company is at the forefront of developments in artificial intelligence. Affectiva recently announced plans for a massive study in 87 countries using computer vision, speech analysis and deep learning technologies to record a wide range of human emotions and cognitive states. The end product will hopefully be the development of algorithms that artificial intelligence will be able to use to identify emotions and complex cognitive states.
Rana el Kaliouby believes that, if successful, the development of artificial intelligence that has the ability to empathise will be vital in combating a concerning trend amongst young people. As we increasingly allow artificial intelligence into our lives young people in particular become more used to interacting with a digital interface than a human being, consequently they are losing the ability to empathise. It is hoped that the development of artificial intelligence that is able to show and recognise emotions will go some way to combat this.
There are also many fields in which emotionally able artificial intelligence will be able to play a vital role. For example medical professionals hope that the technology will be able to provide support to people with autism who struggle to recognise human emotions or express what they are feeling. There is also a belief that artificial intelligence may be able to play a role in identifying suicidal feelings in people.
In the world of automobiles emotionally aware artificial intelligence could be used to recognise when a driver is feeling angry or stressed. Upon recognising these signs the technology will subtly alter ergonomic and environmental factors, such as the music that is playing or the position of the driver’s seat, to calm the driver. Meanwhile, in the classroom, it is thought that this technology could be used to alter the teaching curriculum to fit the needs of the individual pupil. For example if emotionally aware artificial intelligence is monitoring a pupil who begins to feel confused or frustrated the technology will restructure the question or lesson to aid the learning process and alleviate these feelings.
In their quest to develop emotionally able artificial intelligence recently Affectiva have focused their efforts on developing wearable wireless devices that can monitor the nervous system. These devices work to gather biological information that correlates with emotions. Eventually this data will be used to develop algorithms allowing artificial intelligence to become emotionally aware. Rosalind Picard, Affectiva’s co-founder, announced at the New Scientist Live expo, that the goal of those working to develop emotionally able artificial intelligence should be to make lives better.
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