AI Is Not the Best Way to Understand How People Feel: Report
Mon, April 19, 2021

AI Is Not the Best Way to Understand How People Feel: Report

Experts argued that we can't just simply use emotion tech to understand what we feel since emotions are expressed in a huge variety of ways / Credits: TeodorLazarev via Shutterstock


Emotion technology, which experts refer to as “affect recognition,” is currently being deployed by several companies. While a technology that can understand human emotions by just analyzing our facial expressions can be a great advancement, experts warned that the use of emotion tech should be regulated. 

The study "Emotional Expressions Reconsidered: Challenges to Inferring Emotion From Human Facial Movements” showed that it is hard to reliably infer how someone feels from a simple set of facial movements since emotions are expressed in a huge variety of ways. The researchers stated that reading out people’s internal states from facial movements without considering various aspects of context is invalid. 

Thus, a recent report reminded humans that emotion tech is not the best way to understand how people feel. According to Tech Xplore, an online site that covers the latest engineering, electronics, and technology advances, emotion-detecting AI should not be completely relied on to make important calls in situations that can have a serious impact on people. This includes in recruitment, in monitoring students in the classroom, in customer services, and in criminal justice. 

The AI Now 2019 Report also said that affect recognition has been "a particular focus of growing concern in 2019—not only because it can encode biases, but because it lacks any solid scientific foundation to ensure accurate or even valid results.” "Regulators should ban the use of affect recognition in important decisions that impact people's lives and access to opportunities. Until then, AI companies should stop deploying it,” the report said. 

The report also believes that affect recognition technology should not be allowed to play a role in important decisions about human lives, such as who is interviewed or hired for a job, the price of insurance, patient pain assessments, or student performance in school. Aside from that, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University believes that "we need to think about emotions in a more complex fashion."