philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


A.I. Can’t Detect Our Emotions

A conversation with the professor who just turned down a $60,000 grant from Google

A few examples are revealing: The automotive industry sees value in algorithms determining when drivers are distracted and drowsy. Companies see value in algorithms analyzing how customer support agents talk and computationally coaching them to be better speakers. And researchers see value in children with autism using A.I.-infused glasses to interpret the facial reactions conveyed by people around them.

Not everyone, however, is smiling about emotion-sensing A.I. Indeed, strong criticism is pervasive and high-profile controversies are grabbing headlines. For example, there’s been considerable pushback against companies unfairly using emotion detection and analysis software during interviews to determine a candidate’s “employability score.” ...

I’m excited to talk about the promises and pitfalls of emotion-sensing A.I. with Luke Stark, assistant professor in the faculty of information and media studies at the University of Western Ontario.  ... has an exciting new book coming out with MIT Press, Ordering Emotion: Histories of Computing and Human Feelings From Cybernetics to AI. In addition to being a renowned scholar who studies ethical issues, Luke prioritizes ethical action. ...

Evan: If banning facial analysis creates a whack-a-mole problem where automation will scan and classify other bodily channels for emotional information at scale, what’s the best regulatory way forward?

Luke: Well, Jevan Hutson and I are trying to figure that out, not just for emotion recognition but for all forms of what we call “physiognomic A.I.” We’re working on a law review piece that identifies outcomes society should prohibit across all the different ways of making human bodies computationally tractable that are used to infer interior states or characteristics.

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