Computers "adept at figuring out" human emotion


Please, Sir, there is no reason to be suddenly terrified.


Should be fun, especially for those of us with PTSD and have deeply rooted anger issues. Oh, and then there are those who suffer from Paranoia. “Doctor, I think my computer is trying to manipulate me …” And then there are those who suffer from delusions …

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Obligatory scene from 2001


For all human-interaction moments, human mood is procrastinating. For all computer-interaction moments, computer mood is enable-human-procrastinating.

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News of the singularity’s demise, has been greatly exaggerated.

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A decade+ ago, I was working on automated essay scoring for a large testing corporation and the US gov’t asked if we could adapt the engine to rating sentiment and emotionality to specific writings. I told the boss, sure…yeah…it would be simple. I mean, I got into AI trying to teach computers how to read music and identify themes and otherwise, this shouldn’t be too hard.

Turns out, it was actually easier than either of the other two things we had been working on. And it is pretty universal regardless of the language we used. Hell, it detects sarcasm MUCH better than a 20 year old. I realize this isn’t really a feat of skill when used in this comparison.

Given the technology these days and the heuristics available? I’m surprised it isn’t much further used. Then again, the work I did really wasn’t used in the public, so…there is probably a lot more research and implementation than folks know.


Coincidentally, I was just reading a novel where someone woke up with amnesia and ESP, and is contemplating how terrifying it would be for society if suddenly people were unable to lie or hide their feelings.

On another note, I’m wondering how this might affect acting – having software assist directors and actors in conveying emotions more convincingly – and also CGI animators.

And politics.

And the popularity of wearing masks. (They’re terribly comfortable. I think everyone will be wearing them in the future.)


You should productize it… Detecting sarcasm is not really solved (see the DoD research grant that just went out). I know plenty of corporations that would love to get more accurate sentiment analysis from twitter feeds and the like.

Unfortunately, the patent is not in my name. I was an undergrad at the time I did all this work – and even though most of it was done on my own time and only ‘massaged’ at the university, others took the credit for it even though it wasn’t their field of expertise. The university helped with this endevour as I wanted to give it away for free as I thought it was a cool idea that could be made better in the public…where as the university thought it would be a great product to sell to ETS and the DOD.

The decision behind who to back as creators came down how much money they were going to make. The arbitration team at our technology transfer office really didn’t want to hear much more than that.

Never create ANYTHING at a university unless you are willing to give it away and someone else make the profits. This was a decade ago that it happened, so I’m no longer upset about it…but I still like to warn others as I know it still happens.

Eeeeergh, I just had a horrid vision of HR droids everywhere clamouring for Google glass…


Finally, my emotional stack-smashing attack can be everywhere.

That sounds a little down on University IP; always a v 0.95 and never a v 1.7 no matter how self-folding (as in from flat stock, say) a marvel?

Humans are getting more “adept at figuring out” human emotion then programming computers to do the same.

Universities are businesses like any other. Most do good work, but good work costs money and sometimes they hire real a**holes to ensure that they can continue doing what they do.

Like I said, I use to be bitter about it, these days I’m a little sad but glad that something I did helped the university. I wish I would have thought a decade ahead with some of the software I developed, but technology really is neutral in how it works…its the people that decide how to use it.

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