Guest Post by Kirrily Denny

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Soul Machines creative editorial director Kirrily Denny on the benefits of emotional computing 

When you read the title of this blog what immediately came to mind? Real-time holographic projections of people? Scientists plugging their cerebral cortex directly into a computer? Robots with more brains and brawn than us mere mortals? Certainly a wealth of sci-fi skewed imagery pops up.

If I were to say emotions are what will drive digital disruption to the next level, you’d probably think my heart's controlling my head. Well think on this: emotions are what define us as humans. They help us react and adapt to situations, allowing other people to understand us. When we interact with people, our emotional expressions are the clues that help others comprehend and connect with how we’re feeling.

So what if we could have an emotionally engaging 
conversation with a computer? Away with the clinical, 
faceless messaging of chatbots; away with the crude faces
 and jerky movements of AI robots, and in with a new wave of emotionally responsive, human-like machines, with faces that can express a thousand words. What then? Then we really are changing the way humans interact with technology.

"No aspect of our mental life is more important to the quality and meaning of our existence than emotions." - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Why Emotional Intelligence?

Emotions translate through the face, but also through the words we use and the way we use them: things like tone, volume and pitch of the voice. People prefer face-to-face communication because they gain a clearer understanding of a situation through the projection and interpretation of all these communication signals. If a Human Machine can respond empathetically to all these components showing emotional intelligence, then people can interact with a computer in a more relatable way, thereby creating a truly interactive experience.

"We are making a computer system un-robotic by giving it emotion, giving it expression, giving it a real emotional rapport with the people interacting with it." - Dr Mark Sagar, CEO Soul Machines

Emotionally intelligent Human Machines add meaning to artificial intelligence. Opening 
the door to a new age of opportunity by enhancing the lives of everyone. The potential is enormous across a wide-range of fields:

The customer
  • Sick of struggling to find the information you need? A consistently understanding Digital Assistant can provide instant access to the data you need in a more natural, face-to-face meeting without snapping at your frustrations.
The company
  • Keen to raise your brand loyalty? An emotionally intelligent Digital Employee adds an engaging identity to a company by not only being the friendly face of the brand but by providing a consistently rich resource that your demographic can source relevant information from.
The patient
  • Suffering from ill health in the middle of the night? Available 24/7, a caring Digital Healthcare Assistant can provide valuable support to a person who is experiencing concerning symptoms but has no access to a doctor.
The trainer
  • Facing the daunting task of an emergency situation? A Digital Trainer can aid in the training of emergency workers by taking on the role of a trauma victim in a simulation scenario, thus giving them the opportunity to explore ways of dealing with highly emotional situations.

These smart, dynamic, empathetic Human Machines alert to emotional nuances and consistently able to react appropriately in any given situation, will fundamentally change the landscape of how humans interact with computers.

Kirrily Denny is the Creative Editorial Director of Soul Machines, a company featuring in Techweek'18 Headline Event, Creative Realities


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