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Until Machines Learn To Be “Empathetic”, We’ll Just Have To Be Nice To One Another!

Updated: Oct 23


Until Machines Learn to be “Empathetic,” We’ll Just Have to be Nice to One Another! Artificial intelligence is used to describe machines that “mimic” functions that we associate with the human brain such as problem solving and learning. Humans have natural intelligence that gives us the ability to problem solve, learn, and of course, humans have emotional intelligence. Human behavior is sophisticated and complex, whereas machine emulation is programmed and incremental. Since the goal is to merge the two, it will require machines to be learn individualistic behavior and yet display the critical human emotion known as situational empathy. Everybody knows or works with someone they have a hard time tolerating. How long will it be before your laptop says, “he’s a jerk, I can’t stand him either, he tried to unplug me!" Speech recognition, autonomous vehicles, smartphones, banking, and biometric security (TouchID, FaceID) are examples of machine learning that are becoming part of our daily lives. Yet the ability for an inanimate machine to see, understand, and interpret feelings is going to be more challenging. Currently machines aren’t able to physically interact with their environment. As technology advances, the goal will be to introduce more sensory stimulation. The more sensory feedback a machine could receive and learn to process, the wider the range of feelings and emotions a machine might be able to experience. In order for AI to empathize with human emotions, AI must have a way of learning the range of emotions we experience. Herein lies the ultimate challenge. Emoshape holds the technology patent for emotional synthesis and can enable any AI system to understand an enormous range of human emotions to include 64 trillion possible emotional states every 1/10 of a second. The only thing missing is that one variable that makes us human: our distinctive personalities. ​​​​​​​So why do we even care if computers are taught to be empathetic? They are machines not people. The answer is quite simple, empathetic computers will help businesses sell more products. A brilliant woman, Rana el Kaliouby, is at the forefront of this fascinating science known as artificial emotional intelligence (Emotion AI) as well as CEO and co-founder of Affectiva, the acclaimed AI startup spun off from the MIT Media Lab. She helps global clients optimize brand content and media spend by measuring consumers’ emotional responses to all types of media. Given that emotions impact every decision we make, her technology, based on Emotion AI, gives consumer brands a sense of how well they are connecting emotionally with the target audience. Emotion AI measures their moment-by-moment facial expressions of emotion and aggregates the results in a dashboard using AI (Forbes-Duncan). Over 25% of the Fortune Global 500 companies use this technology to understand consumer engagement and optimize content and media spend accordingly. ​​​​​​​Businesses must find the balance between absolute adoption of the technology and the appreciation of critical human capital. AI can provide significant improvements in efficiency and cost effectiveness, but there is no replacement for the value of the natural intelligence of humans to solve problems with adaptability that is based on their instincts and motivations. AI will teach machines billions - trillions of probable outcomes, but no machine will ever be able to replace “gut” feelings or the fear in the pit of your stomach over being held accountable for a decision. AI is particularly useful to businesses that are data centric. Automation, in combination with modern computing, bandwidth, and cloud storage, turns repetitive processes from mundane tasks to instantaneous learning opportunities. More data means smarter machines – more accurate, more efficient, more intelligent. The capabilities of intelligent automation allow a business to free up the bandwidth of its human capital. Types of Artificial Intelligence GPT-3 The unveiling of GPT-3 is big news for AI (created by OpenAI). Think of GPT-3 as giving computers a facility with words that they have had with numbers for a long time, and with images since about 2012. It is designed to perform autofill and can guess what text should come after any starting point – such as predictive text shown on cellphone keyboards. ​​​​​​​Deep Learning Deep learning is one of the foundations of artificial intelligence that trains a computer to perform human-like tasks. It is used to classify images, recognize speech, detect objects, and describe content. Systems such as Siri and Cortana are powered, in part, by deep learning that trains the computer to learn on its own by recognizing many layers of processing. Human-to-machine interfaces are evolving to the point where the mouse and the keyboard are being replaced with gesture, swipe, touch and natural language, ushering in a renewed interest in how AI and deep learning will make communications more effortless. Digital Intelligence Digital Intelligence, or digital IQ, will become increasingly more important as organizations strive for visibility in their organizations using AI. Digital analytics interpret customer engagements on digital platforms such as websites and social media apps to optimize customer experiences. Visibility within organizations is critical to remain competitive (Apple, Tencent, Amazon). Process Intelligence Process Intelligence is the new buzz word that allows businesses to use software to extract information contained within their systems to create a visual model of their processes, analyze them in real time for flaws, and predict future outcomes of technology investments (Amazon, Google). ​​​​​​​ Machine Learning Machine learning automates analytical model building to find hidden insights in data. The machine literally learns from data rather than explicit programming. Indeed Inc, a job site, says that “machine learning engineer” was the fastest growing job on its platform with 344% growth in the past few years. Businesses in the future will need people who can take advantage of this advanced speed and technology (IBM’s Watson). Quantum Computing Expect more quantum computing in the future. Today’s computers use streams of ones and zeros to encode data, quantum computers use atom-scale quirks that allow particles to exist in more than two states. This allows them to process information much more quickly - potentially exceeding the current power of supercomputers. Data science and AI have the potential to transform drug discovery in terms of costs, speed and efficiency. With the explosion in biomedical data, data sharing and analysis platforms have surged. AI technologies are moving to the next phase of advancements, and when combined with other emerging tech areas, AI is expected to witness a full-fledged adoption by pharma and biotech companies in the next 4-5 years (Genpact). Marvin Minsky, one of the founding fathers of AI, is famous for his comment when questioned about machine emotions, “The question is not whether intelligent machines can have emotions, but whether machines can be intelligent without emotions." Embracing empathetic AI systems will mean businesses inject more empathy into the way they conduct business. Why should we care about empathy if the machine will be able to do it for us?​​​​​​​ Empathy is a word we are all familiar with, or should be, as we strive to be compassionate people given the mayhem in our daily lives. We know it is the right thing to do, to be kind to people and to listen to their perspectives and to try to see the world through their lens if only for a moment. But the word has taken on much more relevance. The concept of a “new normal” is an overused phrase and seems like a faraway plan of action and one that is almost irritating. We are each living the new normal daily, carving it out of what is a daily quest to create rituals that are sustainable and actionable. Literally hundreds of articles have been written citing the importance of “empathy” to the health of your business, your employees, personal relationships, and professional ties. Empathy generates increased sales; loyalty from your customers and referrals; accelerated innovation and productivity; greater competitive advantage and market value and expanded engagement and collaboration (Entrepreneur Magazine). Tony Robbins says that empathy in the business world means engaging every human being, not just the pleasant ones, it is a after all, a human endeavor. Now that some light has been shed on the “why do it” part of empathy, it is equally important to understand the three primary types of empathy: ​​​​​​​Cognitive Empathy: Simply knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking in a rational, non-emotional sense. This type of empathy works well for negotiations, understanding diverse viewpoints, and for motivating other people. It is useful for getting inside someone else’s head. Cognitive empathy responds to a problem with brainpower, not emotions. To understand why someone is sad is not the same thing as feeling sad. Emotional Empathy: You feel physically along with the other person, as though their emotions were identical to what you would feel in a similar situation. This type of empathy is useful in close interpersonal relationships and is useful in careers such as HR, coaching, and management where a response requires sympathy and compassion in response to another person’s emotional state. Compassionate Empathy: Compassionate empathy is understanding someone’s feelings and taking appropriate actions to help. It involves a combination of intellect, empathy, and action. Compassionate empathy strikes a balance between cognitive and emotional empathy, which means it is what we are striving for ideally. It requires emotional intelligence to respond to a situation with loving detachment. ​​​​​​​ Why is empathy even more important now than ever and why is it the holy grail in business? Because your ability to be empathetic is integral to your emotional intelligence and connects you with the people you work with and for, your friendships, the people you love, and the people who make up your network. Most of our rituals in the workplace have been replaced with Zooming, social distancing, and working from home. The crazier the world gets, the more we will need the safety of sustainable personal and professional relationships. People’s behavior, including loyalty, does not change based on information, it changes based on emotional intelligence and empathy. Now all we need to do is embrace, and trust “empathetic” AI systems. Ultimately that will mean more empathy is injected into the way companies conduct business, a win-win for us all. Nod if you agree, your computer is watching you! ​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​

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