Home > Business, people, tech > Is an Emotion Decoding Software a Helper or an Intruder?

Is an Emotion Decoding Software a Helper or an Intruder?


I read some time ago that a computer program called Magnify is able to decode the human voice and identify the person’s emotional state in real time. The program works by tearing apart the person’s voices, separating frequencies and measuring the qualities, such as intensity and intonation, of these wavelengths. It is used by some American companies in their call centers in the US.

However 17 to 24 percent of the time Magnify failed in its judgment. According to eXaudios – the company that developed the program – it was because that the person’s medical condition distorted his speech, like autism or schizophrenia. Therefore the company is working on identifying personal diseases as well.

My first reaction was that it sounds pretty cool. With smart phones we are already like carrying our personal assistant around, planning calenders, reminding of upcoming meetings, or even project coordination. Now we will have a mechanical sales assistant. When the program can be applied on mobile phones, a salesman can focus more on his selling strategy and dialogue’s content with a customer while the new assistant will feed him with hidden ‘buy/no-buy’ signals.

On the second thought, I found the application a bit creepy to use officially. Firstly, a person’s emotional state is private. How can a company apply such a usage without consent from the person and make a profit out of it? After all, it is not an experiment and we are no volunteer objects.

To take matter one step further, once it becomes analyzed and documented by some ‘neutral’ computer program, let’s say whose mechanism has been accepted, will it be legitimized to use it as an ‘evidence’ against the person’s own word? You know, a sentence like ‘I’m not sure if I understand him’ means normally miles away from a screen that reads ‘a suppressed outrage and resentment toward him’.

Humans ability to detect mood and emotions of others and react according is one crucial reason why we are and enjoy being social. The implicit nature of the detection is also what keeps us reasoning, imaging and being curious. While I give applause for the effort of addressing the more ‘soft or uncertain’ areas, it is still a double-sided sword where the other side must be tackled before any public or commercial usage.

With some adjustment gearing towards a fun or private purpose, Magnify can very well become another popular application on smart phone for ‘nonsensitive husbands’, or a dating guide. So when the wife is compiling recent issues and your mind is just wondering what the dinner is going to be, a warning signal of ‘storm is on its way’ might get you to take appropriate steps. Or the girl who sits next to you says with a smile: ‘what you say is interesting’, thus makes you feel encouraged to keep on mumbling, a signal of ‘she is getting bored’ might well wake you up. I bet there will be a potential market for this.

Let us know of your opinion.

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