William Webster

written by

William Webster

Researcher, Avoncourt Partners GmbH

Culture Blog - Dec 19, 2017

Can Emotional & Artificial Intelligence Be Wedded?

The most famous droids in the universe are emotionally intelligent. While they argue like a married couple, they possess one of cinema’s most legendary friendships. They are the yin and the yang. R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Wars. R2-D2 can do it all and save the day, while C-3PO can probably do your taxes. Witty and utterly polite, this artificial intelligentia hit a chord with sci-fi imaginations for decades. The idea of future robots capable of reacting to emotional needs of humans is an idea worth dreaming about, especially in lieu of current AI technological advancements.

The human brain can solve all kinds of problems, but there is one area we are still struggling to understand – the aspect of human intelligence that we know as emotional intelligence, or empathy. It’s what allows us to take the feelings and considerations of other people into account in the solutions we make. But progress among us humans has been limited.

Recently, the emotion-focused AI developer Affectiva became one of the few small businesses to be asked to join the “Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society.” The fact that big names like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, who are key players in this partnership, are interested in Affectiva’s growing business is a sure sign that this overlooked aspect of AI is becoming more important.

93% of communication happens in body language and tone of voice. Of all that we say, the content of the words makes up only 7% of what is captured by the receiver. A great deal of valuable data which communicate our emotional state is lost if machines cannot also read our gestures, speech patterns, tone of voice or body language.

Imagine if robots and machines could read our moods and states. It could be as helpful as receiving therapeutic advice from a robo-psychologist, or having your vehicle kick into autonomous drive when you’re not sober or awake enough to be behind the wheel.

There is a lot to be discovered in the realm of emotional intelligence, but the learning capacity of AI could help humans to learn a lot about themselves too. Perhaps a C-3PO home bot is not all too far away.