Don’t worry about machines reading your emotions, worry about those governing them.

There is a clear trend in emotions in general, and in emotions in AI specifically. The idea fascinates us, that something so “personal” can be read/captured by a machine. In many cases people respond with disgust to these new developments, in others, with curiosity, and the rest, with desire.

The facts:

  • wearable sensors, facial recognition, voice analysis and other technologies exist and are getting better every day. And it is/will be the combination of many of these that provide a “closer” and more accurate reading on the emotional/sensorial moment of a particular person (or group).
  • the above data is stored and managed by someone/many, and whomever has access to it can know about your health, your feelings, your conversations, etc.
  • the integration of emotion AI in different contexts and situations (i.e. hospitals, transport, construction, people with disabilities, etc.) brings increased safety and increased quality of life, at the least. The benefits are impactful.
Above image: April 23rd, around the corner from my house. Could such technologies have avoided this dreadful accident?

So, should we focus our emotion-tech-trend in battling against the technologies themselves or bring the focus to the governance of the data gathered through these? Should we request speedier policies to adapt to the rapid tech developments? Maybe new forms of oversight, supervision and control that helps enforce these? And, wouldn’t we want to include here the issues about the data gathered from anything that we write or say using technologies?

These are interesting times for closely monitoring what’s happening in this exciting and controversial field.

Related news and special thanks:

  • Special congratulations to Rana El Kaliouby for her newly released book Girl Decoded, nice memories of us dining out with the computer on the table and discussing facial recognition variables… 
  • And last but not least, I want to dedicate this first post to the woman that first introduced me to emotion-detection technologies in 2001: Rosalind W. Picard, founder and director of the Affective Computing research group at the MIT Media Lab. Thanks Roz!

A few initial thoughts…

I was recently invited to write a blog about my passion for emotions, engagement design and technology, but the truth is that I’ve never considered myself a good writer, I am also not sure if I will have enough to say as time goes by, and nor am I an expert in any of my topics of interest. So I feel a bit uneasy about it, but it sounds like a fun experience!

I will then go ahead and share with you my raw, unedited thoughts and ideas on the current issues that trigger my emotions’ radar.

Hope you enjoy my musings!