Expert: Emotional Intelligence Will Drive Advancements in Artificial Intelligence

AP Photo/David Guttenfelder
AP Photo/David Guttenfelder

Fjord Group Director Bronwyn van der Merwe spoke to ZDNet about what she sees as the future of artificial intelligence: machines getting in touch with their feelings.

Van der Merwe believes that emotional intelligence will be the primary driver of next-generation AI. Just as Siri and Alexa have delivered accurate conversational voice recognition into our households, their descendants will introduce us to artificial beings that can read from the spectrum of human emotion.

Already, more than half of consumers in the world interact with complex AI via live chats and/or mobile applications, and the majority seem comfortable doing so. But in an effort to drive an even higher level of comfort, companies as large as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are engaging comedians and scriptwriters to help make their chat bots a little less robotic.

But after failed experiments like Microsoft’s, van der Merwe cautioned against any lack of transparency in the development of AI that too closely mimics real human interaction. She told ZDNet that companies need to be very careful not to blur the lines between speaking to another person and interacting with a life-like facsimile.

Those companies that manage to harness the power of robots which can simulate empathy without wholly abandoning actual human interaction will have a tool of incredible power at their disposal:

As human beings, we have contextual understanding and we have empathy, and right now there isn’t a lot of that built into AI. We do believe that in the future, the companies that are going to succeed will be those that can build into their technology that kind of understanding.

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