The Business Inside: Can AEI Change Our Perspective About AI?

Since the beginning of the IT revolution, one thing that people always say, “Machines can never understand humans.” It was never necessary before for computers to understand what a human mind thinks, or how a human mind works. They only performed back-office operations, like data processing. But now, as the computers are getting deployed for front-office roles like robot drivers and digital assistants, it has become a major concern. The majority of computers all over the world are interacting with random humans directly in different scenarios and environments.


Currently, as you read, artificial intelligence is already reshaping how brands communicate with customers by providing them more personalized and timely connections. The scientists, researchers, and engineers have already started building a connection between AI and emotions, and it’s happening right now. The demand has led to the development of Emotional AI, to build trust between humans and computers.

How does AEI differ from AI?

AEI or Artificial Emotional Intelligence is an advanced version of generic AI. While artificial intelligence technology aggregates and analyzes data, and offers recommendations based on previous context and interactions, AEI on the other hand (still under development), will take empathy into account to optimize customers’ experience. It will help to bridge the gap between machines and humans.

However, researchers have raised concerns regarding the opposite effects of Emotional AI. The technology can never be trusted completely because it can be misused to manipulate consumers also. According to Gartner Consultancy, within the next 2 years, up to 10% of personal devices will consist of AEI in some form.

In a telephonic interviewRana el Kaliouby, co-founder and chief executive of Boston-based AI startup called Affectiva, said that “Technology today has a lot of cognitive intelligence or IQ, but no emotional intelligence or EQ. We are facing an empathy crisis. We need to redesign technology in a more human-centric way.” 

Working of Artificial Emotional Intelligence

AEI classifies the emotions by analyzing facial expressions combined with voice levels and eye movements. The data is then put together to determine the correct response for a situation. According to reports, Affectiva is working on an in-vehicle emotion recognition system, which will use microphones and cameras to sense the status of a driver. If the driver is distracted, angry, or drowsy, the system will respond by lowering the temperature, or tugging the seatbelt, etc..


Affectiva also developed an algorithm to determine the sentiment in an email by analyzing the writing tone. In the recent events of COVID-19 pandemics, it was seen that AEI technology is already making its way into different healthcare sectors to provide help and support to the elderly by developing a proactive and more empathetic assistant.

Alexa, a digital assistant that operators in millions of people’s homes are a good example of AI technology. Recently, Amazon has filed patents for emotion-detecting technology to determine Alexa user’s emotions like happy, fearful, stressed, angry, and sad. This data will enable Alexa to determine its actions like what mood music to play, or what shopping offer will be best suited for the user, etc..


According to Accenture’s Report on Emotional AI uses, it suggests that this technology can help brands to improve their customer engagement process. The report also warned that using emotion data could be risky because it could be ambiguous, involves extreme intimacy level, and could lead to big mistakes.


On the other hand, it could play an important role for businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic because it’s now necessary for businesses to adopt online platforms if they want to scale-up. Meaning, they have to understand their consumer sentiment through online activities and aid them by constructing positive responses using AI.

Fujitsu, a Japanese IT conglomerate, is installing the line of sight sensors in shop floor mannequins, which will send push notifications to nearby sales staff. It will give them suggestions regarding how they can personalize their best service to customers.

Currently, the business startups are integrating digital business strategies to stay competitive. Around 55% of these startups have already integrated such strategies, and the number will only rise in future as they have to face increase in consumer demands. AI services will help businesses in managing sales, and AEI will help in building relationships with consumers by improvising personal interactions.

In the end, I want to say that Emotional Artificial Intelligence could work in ways: It works so bad that it leads to harmful outcomes, or, it works too well, which might open the way for abuse. It only depends on those who deploy this technology, and those who regulate it. They have to make sure that it works right for the user.

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