Affective Computing ( AI & Emotions)

Affective computing is the study and development of systems and devices that can recognize, interpret, process, and simulate human affects. It is an interdisciplinary field spanning computer science, psychology, and cognitive science. While the origins of the field may be traced as far back as to early philosophical enquiries into emotion, the more modern branch of computer science originated with Rosalind Picard’s 1995 paper on affective computing. A motivation for the research is the ability to simulate empathy. The machine should interpret the emotional state of humans and adapt its behaviour to them, giving an appropriate response for those emotions. While human emotions are often associated with surges in hormones and other neuropeptides, emotions in machines might be associated with abstract states associated with progress (or lack of progress) in autonomous learning systems. In this view, affective emotional states correspond to time-derivatives (perturbations) in the learning curve of an arbitrary learning system.

The are of affective computing is the design of computational devices proposed to exhibit either innate emotional capabilities or that are capable of convincingly simulating emotions. A more practical approach, based on current technological capabilities, is the simulation of emotions in conversational agents in order to enrich and facilitate interactivity between human and machine.

Marvin Minsky, one of the pioneering computer scientists in artificial intelligence, relates emotions to the broader issues of machine intelligence stating in The Emotion Machine that emotion is “not especially different from the processes that we call ‘thinking.'”

One can take advantage of the fact that changes in the autonomic nervous system indirectly alter speech, and use this information to produce systems capable of recognizing affect based on extracted features of speech. For example, speech produced in a state of fear, anger or joy becomes faster, louder, precisely enunciated with a higher and wider pitch range. Other emotions such as tiredness, boredom or sadness, lead to slower, lower-pitched and slurred speech. Emotional speech processing recognizes the user’s emotional state by analyzing speech patterns. Vocal parameters and prosody features such as pitch variables and speech rate are analyzed through pattern recognition


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