The age of AI needs empathy


Artificial intelligence (AI) is already a key part of our lives. Our CEO, Gawain Morrison, tells Creative Review why the age of AI needs empathy...

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is already a key part of our lives. At its core, AI is just software that runs data into mathematical formulae which are designed to serve specific functions – in other words, algorithms. In a world where mind-boggling volumes of data are generated every second we require these algorithms to help make sense of it, and make it relevant to us.

AI is something we increasingly rely on. Whether it is for finding the quickest route to work, recommending products to purchase or friends to connect with, AI is helping to present us with useful information.

In the media you will see new developments in AI almost every day, from self-driving cars to digital doctors mentioned in this year’s discussions. But as this space grows, so do questions. Employees and consumers may wonder what AI will do to the job market long-term, and whether they can trust it to give better advice than human doctors. And as experts and businesses, we may wonder how AI’s usefulness could get bigger and better whilst maintaining the use of consumer data ethically and responsibly. The discussions around AI are wide and varied, polarising and exciting depending on personal views.

Welcome to the world of Emotion AI

Whether we like to admit it or not, our decisions and behaviours are underpinned by our emotions – in every context and interaction, both in the physical and digital worlds. Human beings are both mildly rational and highly emotional. So while AI can currently understand rational human behaviour, there is a much bigger need to understand emotional data. And that’s why we build emotion AI solutions at Sensum.

Emotion AI attempts to give computers the capability to judge the emotions of a person or situation. Those emotions-calculating algorithms can then be implemented into almost any digital system, such as smartphones, wearable tech and social media, to make them more relevant and useful to us. By programming AI to have some emotional intelligence it can start to make better, more contextual judgements and recommendations.

How will it work?

To incorporate emotional intelligence into artificial systems, we build a model of the situation’s context and subsequent body responses from a wide range of data and features. Depending on the environment and circumstance, these may include biometrics (eg. heart rate and breathing), weather, temperature, speed of movement, external noise, lighting, engagement with other humans … pretty much any parameters from that specific moment and emotional stimulus. That input is processed by our emotion AI engines, which are software packages that sense and measure the emotions of the situation and output that data as emotional insight for use in reports and visualisations, or as controllers of experiences and interfaces.

Well, what can it offer?

From a business point of view, emotion AI has huge relevance across all industries. Media, entertainment, games, research, and sports & performance are key areas in which Sensum specialises in, however other sectors such as health & safety, automotive, finance and health & wellbeing will also seriously benefit from emotion AI. We have already helped globally renowned businesses apply emotion AI to:

Build world-first brand & product campaigns;

Measure sentiment in social media content;

Understand customer journeys through physical environments such as retail spaces;

Connect the emotions of performers with their audiences;

Develop solutions for emotionalising media content; and

Research emotions in sports and performance.

For brands, understanding and influencing consumer emotion is key to business success. But its usefulness won’t stop there. The potential impact of emotion AI in the (very) near future is enormous. Imagine how a system like your car, your mobile, or your computer might serve you if it knew you were in a particularly good or bad mood at that moment. Or if early signs of depression could be identified how many people could live more fulfilling lives? And how different would communications media such as social networks be if we could easily share our emotions with our contacts? If used in the right way, our lives could benefit greatly from giving empathy to artificial intelligence.

Bring good to Emotion AI…and it’ll bring good to you

Let’s not kid ourselves that there aren’t people who would like to use this kind of technology wrongly, perhaps for surveillance and profiling; that’s when things could quickly get creepy, and then down-right scary. That is why we are dedicated to building emotion AI that serves the user first, and does so transparently.

To develop emotional data analytics for brands all over the planet, we work closely with human beings – and whether that is for engaging, entertaining or simply researching with them we take the ethics and responsibility of our relationships very seriously. Human emotions are underpinned by social attributes such as trust and judgement, and we believe that artificial systems, and those who would use them, must therefore abide by the similar pro-social norms. With clear values of transparency in every project and product we create, we are able to make them more useful, interesting or enjoyable for the end user.

These are values that have been and will always be at the forefront of Sensum. And if the use of emotion AI is to benefit society, other businesses must follow our footsteps. Producing body & emotion data will not only allow our technological lives to become more aligned with us as we live and breathe our everyday lives but it will also enable machines to communicate with emotional understanding. Ultimately, the age of AI will soon have a core element of empathy. The future is emotional. The future is Sensum.  

To see the original article in Creative Review, please click here

Ben Bland

Chief Operations Officer