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02/02/2019

Making AI More Emotional - Part Two

Algorithms are not known for their emotional intelligence, but in part one of this article Forbes introduced Cogito, an application that analyzes behavioral signals in voice conversations to improve interactions with enterprise customers and monitor mental health patients. Measuring emotional responses and prompting people to increase their energy, be more empathetic or change their speaking pace is an innovative way to make AI more emotional. But there will be many different methods to address the challenge of teaching AI how to communicate naturally and collaborate more effectively. The Cogito application will undoubtedly help to quantify our emotions, and as more conversations are measured and used to teach the algorithm, the more it will ‘understand’ the nuances of human communication. Quantifying emotional factors like empathy, energy or frustration clearly has its challenges, but with training data that includes all these aspects then a program can look for similar vocal patterns and react based on certain criteria. However, AI that can actively interact with humans in an authentic way is another task entirely. Automated customer service agents are often stilted, frustrating, and even nonsensical, but some are looking to breathe new life into automated customer interaction. Giving a personality to an AI avatar is a novel way of getting around the problems that machine learning has in unpredictable situations. Establishing a narrative context for each interaction with a character or avatar allows users to interact with a being that has a defined personality, attitude, and way of speaking. ‘If you talk to an Iron Man avatar on social media, he’s not going to talk to you about politics, he’s going to talk to you about his world’ says co-founder Ryan Horrigan. This way, communication is instantly more enjoyable and engaging than it would be with a faceless bot, because the creator ‘would effectively design the context for that given experience’ to give each avatar its own frame of reference to communicate from. While the matter of when we will reach general artificial intelligence (AGI) is very much up for debate, training algorithms to detect emotional cues or replicate natural interaction is a way of ‘creating narrow AI that is highly contextual’, and opening a new frontier of AI. Cogito’s application trains AI to be more empathetic by detecting minute changes in tone of voice and speech patterns. Artie’s avatars use computer vision, natural language processing and sentiment analysis to replicate emotions in a virtual character and give AI a different way to interact with us.

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