30 January 2007

Sentimental journey: on computers and emotions [CIO Magazine]

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Boring
“New computer software applications—in the labs and in the market—are using emotion as data input and responding to it”, writes Esther Schindler in CIO Magazine.

“For business purposes, it isn’t necessary for a computer to emote—as long as it can respond to our emotions.

We want companies (and the systems they build, whether silicon- or carbon-powered) to acknowledge and respect our feelings, particularly when those feelings are strongly felt. Enterprises are starting to see good dollars-and-cents reasons to take action on emotion. “Research shows that if you respond to a customer within 24 hours of an angry experience, you are likely to recover the customer and to create [vendor] loyalty,” says Bar Veinstein, NICE Systems’ director of product marketing.

The intent isn’t to create an empathic artificial intelligence that experiences emotion. In these applications, the software analyzes human behavior and helps humans to make better business decisions. Many of these projects are still in the research labs, but a few are available as enterprise products.

“According to Dr. Marc Schröder, a senior researcher involved with the W3C Emotion Incubator Group, the computer experience must become more natural, or the average user will be unable to cope with increasing human-machine interaction complexity. Schröder explains, “By ‘natural,’ I mean closer to the type of human interactions that we all have every day, with friends, family, strangers, bosses, employees, etc. You know from the twitch in your boss’ face that now would be a good moment to stop contradicting…and you know from the face of your wife that today was a good day. Words are not needed for you to understand this.”

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