Meghan Neal of Motherboard reports, “Scientists continue to make advancements in emotional artificial intelligence, also called affective computing. Most recently, ‘feeling’ computers are being used to improve education. Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a facial recognition software that can tell when a student is feeling frustrated, bored, etc., and respond accordingly. Researchers filmed students during tutoring sessions, and laptops running the software analyzed the facial expressions in the videos and were able to accurately identify the emotions the students later reported feeling. The computers could tell when students were struggling and when they needed to be more challenged.”

Neal continues, “This level of emotional intelligence in machines could mean wonders for the education system, especially with the exploding popularity of MOOCs—online courses with sometimes hundreds of students, hundreds of miles away from the professor, who can’t pay close attention to the specific needs of each individual… Google, a company whose ultimate search is artificial intelligence, is of course on the case. In its quest to perfect semantic search, it’s developing computers that can understand context and meaning behind users’ queries—essentially fostering a conversation between you and your computer. Google’s Futurist-in-Chief Ray Kurzweil, a leading AI scientist, said in a recent interview with Wired that once a machine understands that kind of complex natural language, it becomes, in effect, conscious. He doesn’t think that day is far off.”

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Image: Courtesy Flickr/ Buster Benson