Innovation

An emotionally aware computer doubles as therapist

OMG. News flash, people. There is a computer in the making that will be able to read your mind. Don't believe me? See for yourself: "Coming soon: Mind-reading computers."

According to the story, "An 'emotionally aware' computer being developed by British and American scientists will be able to read an individual's thoughts by analyzing a combination of facial movements that represent underlying feelings."

Are you kidding me? How many people in your life are already trying to uncover some hidden emotion, and now your computer is going to start probing you as well?

"The technology is already programmed to recognize different facial expressions generated by actors. Robinson [Peter Robinson, of the University of Cambridge in England] hopes to get more data to determine whether someone is bored, interested, confused, or agrees or disagrees..." Actors? Unless you're yawning, laughing, crying, or some other obvious (animated) facial gesture, how is the computer going to pick up a true thought or emotion? I think the average person (in relation to an actor/actress) is fairly subtle.

"It could also be useful in online teaching to show whether someone understands what is being explained and in improving road safety by determining if a driver is confused, bored, or tired... a camera could be built into the dashboard. Anyone who does not want to give away too much information about what they are feeling, he [Robinson] said, can just cover up the camera."

The day when your computer questions you about your feelings is a nightmare, if you ask me. Can you imagine the following dialogue on your next road trip: "You're picking your nose... are you bored? Would you like to talk about your feelings? Why are you frowning? Are you mad? Why are you covering me up? It's not healthy to stifle your feelings...."

About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

Editor's Picks