Emotional Analytics (EA) is a ¨new¨ field that allows an Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify and analyze the full spectrum of human emotions including mood, attitude and emotional personality whether by their gestures, their words or the tone of their voice, thus allowing the appropriate decisions to be made by the AI or whoever is controlling it. It is a rapidly changing field that is being adopted across industries whether in healthcare, in securities, education or marketing. 

But why emotions? Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winning economist, crystallized years of research into his 2011 book ´Thinking Fast and Slow´. Kahneman describes two ways of thinking in order to condense his work further: System 1 (fast, visceral, and emotionally driven) and System 2 (slow-considered, rational, and effortful). Traditional market research has used methods such as surveys to explain responses to System 2 for a long time. System 1 responses, however, are elusive and difficult to obtain and analyze, especially since people are often unable to express their emotions or may not even want to share them. The brain is the pride of our species and, nevertheless, in spite of it, of all our reasoning, a very important part of the actions we take are influenced by our emotions.

But, why AI? To begin with, understanding a human being can be complicated. It is always difficult to understand others and, sometimes it is almost impossible to even understand ourselves. If interpreting emotions amongst each other can be so complicated, how can AI capture our emotions? In ´Star Trek: The Next Generation´ which takes place in the 24th century, ´Data´ is an advanced android with an unparalleled ability to think and execute numerous operations seconds- but, just like Pinocchio, he wants to be human.  One of the foundations on which Data´s character pivots is his ability to consider and understand the feelings that control his human companions, which makes his interaction with his colleagues more fruitful for both parties. Despite this scenario being a ¨reel life¨ illustration, the human-conscious computer is much closer than we would think in real life as well. 

Interaction between businesses and consumers has already started going through the process of AI. Artificial intelligence and bots are one of the aspects that are being worked on the most by tech giants as there is no better way to serve a client than to consider what he is feeling in order to meet his needs. A report by Infoholic Research indicates that the emotion analysis market will hit $1.711 million by 2022. Why is so much money being spent on understanding our emotions? Without a doubt, it is very important for a company to maintain a good relationship with its customers and with its employees. But this will not only help companies convince you to give them your money or time, it can also make your life more enjoyable. The better a company knows you, the better service or product it can offer you. No company wants to overwhelm you until you get tired of them, what they want is to accompany you and cover your needs in the best possible way. And when they fail overwhelming you or sending you irrelevant advertising, or unfitting task to you if you are an employee, it’s a sign that they don’t know you well enough. This is where Feelenials comes in to understand individuals and groups of people whether in a public or private nature, in order to help organizations make better decisions for individuals as well as for collectives.

It is tempting to think that if a machine can capture our emotions, it is a little closer to having them. But, in disappointment to Star Trek’s Data and the concern of most indivuduals, that is highly unlikely. Computers are outstanding in processing information and crossing data, which can help them find out what humans feel and take a course of action accordingly. However, getting to feel is something that is still far for a machine. In fact, we don’t even know what is necessary to have emotions. But at least the AI you interact with will create an illusion of empathy that adapts to your emotions. The analysis of emotions will not (only) allow advertisers to exploit our emotions in order to sell us goods, but it will also make our relationship with the machines more relaxed and warmer in a historic moment when we will have more and more contact with them. As told by Rosalind Picard, founder and director of the Affective Computing Research Group at the MIT Media Lab, “the goal is to honour people’s feelings, to better integrate this technology into our lives.”


Cover Photo by Das Ein on Unsplash