Is AI Capable of Understanding Human Speech and Our Emotions?

AI (artificial intelligence) sounds like something out of science fiction, but the truth is a lot of people use AI daily and do not think twice about it. Every time you say “Hey Siri” or “Alexa” there is an AI extracting the meaning behind your words and, it makes decisions based on patterns and algorithms. When humans communicate, we use much more than just words. There is body language, tone, perspective, and more to help us understand the point spoken.

When you have a conversation with a spouse, a friend, or an enemy, you can sense the emotion behind the words. For a machine to be able to process the natural language processing (NLP) of humans, that must be something beyond our everyday programs, right? Spell check, email assistant, grammar check, spam inbox, and auto-complete are all functions of natural language processing AI software.

When you think about Siri and Alexa, or spell check and auto-complete, you can conclude that AI is more than capable of understanding human speech—but what about human emotion?

Do you know that little chatbox on the bottom of a website? It asks you if you need assistance, and when you type into it, you get a very polite chatbot that is more than happy to deal with you. You ask it some questions in your style of wording, and like a human, it will help you with the results required. If you get mad at it, it knows to connect you with a human. But how can a machine completely understand our emotions when it does not see our expressions or body language?

Increasingly, AI is evolving into a powerful tool for communicating with humans, and they are gaining strengths where we have weaknesses. Sure, as of right now, humans have the advantage of being able to read body language, but AI machines analyze immense amounts of data, and they have learned how to recognize tones and expressions of stress and anger. Facial recognition AI machines analyze images and pick up detailed micro-expressions on human faces that might happen too fast for a human to realize it.

Companies are utilizing these incredible AI machines to improve their marketing and target potential consumers. The software captures subconscious reactions that correlate with consumer behavior, like sharing an advertisement or purchasing a product. Some companies will have people watch ads and record their reactions, which will be processed through the AI to analyze their response.

Call centers are using technology that captures the mood of customers on the phone that helps them adjust the conversation in the future. The voice analytics capture behavior and voice patterns.

Companies are experimenting with AI. For example, there is AI software used for mental health clinics, where it monitors the heartbeat to tell whether they are experiencing pain, frustration, stress, or anger. The more companies that get involved in the evolution of AI software, the sooner AI will flawlessly read and understand natural language processing and human emotion.

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