I was surprised that the Boston Globe’s (Waltham firm helps computers learn empathy by mapping the human face) highlighted such unimportant opportunities for the technology. Here’s what MIT Media Lab spinoff Affectiva is doing, according to the Globe:
- Helping companies measure emotional responses to advertising
- Spitting out pieces of chocolate for Hershey’s when someone smiles at the machine
Maybe that’s not so bad for initial applications, but what’s down the road sounds pretty unimportant as well
“If a student got stuck on a tough math problem, an empathetic school computer would recognize the confused look on his face, and instantly offer additional help. An office laptop might see that a worker is bored, and suggest that he take a coffee break or play a simple computer game. A TV that notices that nobody laughed at last night’s Adam Sandler movie might suggest Woody Allen next time.”
Give me a break. A much more profound application for these tools will be to give people better insights into others’ emotions in live one-on-one and group interactions. It will be especially helpful for people with autism and Asperger’s, but it will also be useful for the average person to better understand how others react to them. The technology could (and I assume will) be built in to a next generation of Google Glass or similar.
I know some people who could use such a tool.
I’m not suggesting anything that hasn’t already been thought of, but the Globe should have done a better job reporting on this.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net