While most of us are used to dealing with an artificial intelligence computer when it comes to checking our credit card records or booking a plane ticket, not many of us would be able to envision a future where you would get therapy from a computer, for instance.

Would you trust an artificial intelligence computer program to understand your emotions and be able to treat you accordingly? Regardless of the answer, the truth is that artificial intelligence in computer science is evolving towards the development of emotionally intelligent computers. But is that really possible? This is what we’re going to be exploring today.

The Artificial Intelligence Computer and Human Emotions

Reading Vs Understanding

In recent years, scientists have been able to create computer artificial intelligence programs that are able to read human emotions. For instance, a computer might be able to tell when you’re feeling angry or sad. However, it won’t actually understand why you’re feeling like this, or understand the feeling itself. That’s because it’s not able to experience it. Thus, it goes without saying that we shouldn’t equate reading with understanding. The fact that a computer is able to recognize an emotion doesn’t mean that it’s also capable of understanding it. Not to mention actually experiencing it.

Recognizing Human Emotions

Scientists have developed quite recently a type of artificial intelligence computer that is able to identify criminals by scanning their features. If you’re wondering how that is possible, the official answer is due to an approach called “deep learning”. The machine combines this with a “face rotation model”. These two techniques help the computer identify the criminal even when looking at several photos of him or her. The photos are taken from different angles and with different lighting. The accuracy was of almost 90 percent, which is indeed impressive.

However, there’s another possible explanation for this incredible accuracy. This is that the computer was able to identify some sort of emotion in some of the pictures, emotion that most people would have easily dismissed if they weren’t looking close enough. Still, not all photos are available to the public. As a result, it’s impossible to generalize and apply this theory to all of the photos examined by the computer.

Affective Computing

Affective computing is the name of the field that deals with the study and development of machines that are able to not only recognize, but also process, interpret, and more importantly simulate human emotions. Researchers who are working in this field claim that we could never live amongst robots and have a comfortable existence if they weren’t able to experience the same emotions as us, and react accordingly.

There are many examples of research that aims to develop the field of affective computing. For instance, one type of artificial intelligence robot designed for this purpose was one that was capable of recognizing the emotions that students went through when attending computer tutoring. Another example would be the company BeyondVerbal. They came up with a software that analyzes the sound of people’s voices and determines their emotions. The software claims to be 80 percent accurate, which shows how much the field of affective computing has evolved.

The Artificial Intelligence Computer and Love

Have you ever watched the movie Her? There, a man and an operating system fall in love. If you haven’t, you might have a hard time imagining how the world would look like if computers were capable of feeling love. If this is the case, then you still have plenty of time to get used to the idea. That’s because this actually happening in real life is not a plausible scenario just yet.

The reason why computers can’t fall in love yet isn’t because they don’t have the algorithmic abilities or the processing speed required. The actual explanation stems from the fact that when humans fall in love, they also use hormones and senses in the experience. Otherwise put, love is not as abstract as some romance novels make it out to be. This means that in order for computers to actually experience love, they need bodies.

That is not to say that the field of artificial intelligence is not developed enough. Actually, it can fool people that they’re dealing with a human being instead of a computer. Researchers might be able to create computers that simulate love (although this is a difficult endeavor in itself). Still, machines that actually experience this feeling and fall in love (their love grows and develops) are not something we should expect in the near future. A feeling that grows and evolves is not easy to program, if not impossible.

Should We Develop Computers Capable of Emotions?

If we were to consider the benefits of having emotionally intelligent machines to take care of tasks that human beings would normally take care of, then the answer might as well be yes. We could use artificial intelligence computers to catch and interrogate criminals, provide people with therapy, have a companion, and so on.

Still, there are some ethical concerns surrounding the idea of developing computers that are capable of understanding and experiencing human emotions. Many people are concerned about the accuracy and safety of such machines. For example, could we be 100 percent sure that we’ve captured the right criminal by relying only on an artificial intelligence computer? Even more so, can we entrust people who struggle with mental illness to a machine? A lot of people don’t think these are viable options.

Final Thoughts

As we showed in today’s guide, the field that deals with the development of emotionally intelligent machines is constantly developing. Many people trust that creating computers that experience human emotions is a huge step forward. This is undeniably true, but only if you look at things from one perspective. Other perspectives offer a bleaker view of a future where people live amongst emotionally intelligent machines. As the controversy continues, one thing’s for sure. We won’t stumble upon a computer capable of emotional intelligence any time soon.

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