Affective Computing

The title is not a typo. ‘Affect’ refers to the way we sense and display emotions. And computers are about to understand this better than some people.

I came across this incredibly well written article at New Scientist, which touches on some of the possibilities. I won’t even excerpt it. Just read it.

This in a sense gives people yet another super power. The ability to read minds, or at least emotions. People with extremely high emotional IQ can already do this, but it eludes many others. Some people, like me, have high perception and sensitivity of other people’s states, but poor recognition of how we ourselves come across.

Technology can help this. And coupled with something like AR contact lenses, this can be a game changer for interpersonal interactions.

Forget the cliche of floating someone’s name or birthday over their head so you don’t need to remember it. What happens when computers guide our conversations to be more effective (appropriately affective)? Think business negotiations, social situations like dating, and basic training wheels for emotional interaction from childhood to adult.

The downside is a normalization of unique differences between people. But perhaps if we’re smart, we can retain the best of social interactions and improve the pitfalls without homogenizing everything to a too-simplistic algorithm.

Very promising indeed.