Irish scientists were to today celebrating what they claim to be a breakthrough in computer science. Researchers at University College Cork unveiled what they believe to be the first computer with “artificial emotional intelligence”, the ability to identify, assess and react to the emotions of others.
The computer, which has been called C.E.S, short for “Compassion, Empathy and Sympathy”, is the brainchild of Dr Brian Sutton. Dr Sutton developed the computer to recognise the emotional state of others and react in an appropriate way.
“I came up with the idea for an emotionally aware computer while using Facebook one day.”, says Dr Sutton. “I was struck by how many of my Facebook friends posted needy, vague, attention seeking statuses, expecting some sort of response. I’m a scientist and therefore emotionally detached and distant at the best of times. Apparently I’m on an spectrum or some shit like that. I thought that instead of spending my valuable time pandering to my passive-aggressive acquaintances, I could find some way to automate the process.”
We asked Dr Sutton how long it took him to devise this computer programme.
“It really didn’t take long to come up with the algorithm that the programme uses. Although the specific details are commercially sensitive, at its very basics, the computer learns to read the status updates of your friends and rates them on a scale of attention seeking behaviour. It then responds with what it judges to be the most suitable comment from a list stored in its memory.”
“For example, take the status update ‘Why does this always happen to me? Worst day ever!’. The C.E.S computer goes to its table of possible responses which are:
- Are you ok honey/mate?
- What’s wrong?
- Sorry to hear that.
- Is there anything I can do?
and picks the best answer. In this case, ‘Hugs’.”
The system has already been tested on a controlled group of civil servants, primary school teachers and cabaret performers with an encouraging 98% success rate.
“The only issue we had was when the system chose ‘Is there anything I can do?’ as the response and the person said that there was. We quickly built in a fail-safe follow up reply of, ‘I’m a bit tied up with work at the minute but I’ll check in with you later.'”
Dr Sutton and his team are currently developing C.E.S as a smartphone app for the public to use. We asked him if a better solution might be to just hide all the annoying friends he has on Facebook?
“Hide people on Facebook? Fuck…I didn’t I think of that. We’re building an app. Have I told you about the app?”