3 min read

Unfair Advantages of Emotional Computing

Jul 8, 2014

Earlier this week, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son announced an amazing new robot called Pepper. The most amazing feature isn’t that it will only cost $2,000, or that Pepper is intended to babysit your kids and work the registers at retail stores. What’s really remarkable is that Pepper is designed to understand and respond to human emotion.

Heck, understanding human emotion is tough enough for most HUMANS.

There is a new field of “affect computing” coming your way that will give entrepreneurs and marketers a real unfair advantage. That’s what this note to you is about… It’s really very powerful, and something I’m thinking a lot about.

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What are the unfair advantages?

Recent advances in the field of emotion tracking are about to give businesses an enormous unfair advantage.

Take Beyond Verbal, a start-up in Tel Aviv, for example. They’ve developed software that can detect 400 different variations of human “moods.” They are now integrating this software into call centers that can help a sales assistant understand and react to customer’s emotions in real time.

Better than that, the software itself can also pinpoint and influence how consumers make decisions.

For example, if this person is an innovator, you want to offer the latest and greatest product. On the other hand, if the customer is conservative, you offer him something tried and true.

Talk about targeted advertising! But it goes beyond advertising, more importantly, to improving quality of life.

How can this improve quality of life?

Mary Czerwinski is a cognitive psychologist at Microsoft Research doing pioneering work in Affect Computing.

She tells a story about how she and her boyfriend were in a nasty fight. While they were bantering back and forth, a small wireless device on her wrist was monitoring her emotional ups and downs (through heart rate monitoring and electrical changes in her skin).

At the peak of the argument, when she was most upset, her boyfriend received a text message saying: “Your friend Mary isn’t feeling well. You might want to give her a call.”

Can you imagine?

The constant monitoring of our emotional landscape and personal interactions is a bizarre concept. But it is one that could help many people. Some of her early projects were aimed at helping autistic children who can’t easily communicate their mood.

Other technologies monitor how hard you’re pounding on your keyboards (another possible indicator of mood). Imagine if your computer flashed you a message: “Don’t send that email!”

What does it all mean? The user interface

The point here is that something as subtle and powerful as human emotion is coming “digitally online.” It’s being digitized and understood and monitored and commercialized. And you should know about it.

Also read: TOP 50 MOON SHOTS (2000 - 2020)

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Peter H. Diamandis

Written by Peter H. Diamandis

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