As the consumer team gears up for CES, we’ve been chatting a lot about AI. And you wouldn’t have thought it, but AI is getting emotional. How are you feeling? AI can tell…

You wouldn’t have thought it, but AI is getting emotional. Admittedly, artificially intelligent technology can’t understand emotions in the same way as humans, but it’s edging closer and closer. By 2022, the market is expected to be worth $41bn. But can technology really be emotionally intelligent, and what are the opportunities and pitfalls of this relatively novel industry?

You might not understand AI, but AI understands you..

Emotions are one of the cornerstones of humanity, shared it seems by some animals and not machines… or so we thought. Amazon‘s Alexa is already detecting sentiment to target advertising and suggestions, and social robots like Buddy and Pepper are trained to interact with humans on an emotional level. Voice recognition is becoming more accurate than ever and, as a result, technology is getting better at understanding humans.

We’re safe (for now..)

We’ve come to accept that disruptive technology is going to take over manual and administrative roles. What we’re less accustomed to is the idea that AI could also do jobs that require a personal touch – think carers and even teachers. If AI can demonstrate high quality emotional intelligence, then these professions are at just as much risk of automation.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. For now, it’s safe to say that AI is still getting its artificial brain around the nuances of human emotion. Even if AI can reliably recognise complicated feelings, the obstacles go beyond technological ability. Our lives are already tracked and analysed by the organisations that gather our financial, social, security and health data. Trying to add emotional data to that list could be seen as prying. Replacing human emotional roles with artificial emotional intelligence feels quite unsettling. You might use AI to schedule your weekly meetings, but would you happily leave your ageing mother alone with an artificially intelligent robot?