AI, NLG, and Machine Learning

The Advancement of Emotional Intelligence in Chatbots

Learn about what artificial emotional intelligence is, how emotion AI works, and how it is transforming the chatbot industry!

By Aarushi Ramesh
October 9, 2019

The ability of a conversational AI chatbot to understand your emotions and thoughts as you speak sounds like an amazing feat. We all go through different moods during the day. How can a machine detect your mood—whether you are angry, frustrated, excited, or even tired? If machines slowly start to comprehend how humans feel as they speak, through vocal sounds and phrases, they can react appropriately and have a genuine conversation with you. The idea of integrating the notion of emotional intelligence (EI) with artificial intelligence (AI) can have a profound impact on businesses, software companies, and us!

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the idea of understanding and comprehending emotions and being able to label them as a specific feeling—for example, excitement. EI with AI enables intelligent technologies (such as chatbots) to detect emotions from a conversation and to respond to them accordingly. You can think of it as an emoji generator, where EI maps out every thought or feeling to a certain emoji. The emojis act as labels of emotions.

Emotion AI

Integrating EI with AI can revolutionize businesses and companies that use chatbots to interact with customers all around the world. Many businesses use chatbots for customer service, and once chatbots start recognizing human emotions and the feelings of a customer, they can be used for advertising or even feedback/reviews of products.

How does emotion AI work?

Emotion AI, or artificial emotional intelligence, deeply analyzes large sets of data and uses certain characteristics of the data to assign a particular label to it. For example, for emotion facial detection (also known as facial coding), emotion AI uses facial features to detect how a person is feeling. To implement facial coding, you can use a camera or sensor to capture the facial expressions and use effective computer vision algorithms to recognize the important features on the human face. Computer vision is basically the form of artificial intelligence where a computer learns how to interpret images and visual models and to classify objects from an image. So computer vision models can identify important parts and features of the face, such as the eyebrows, shape of the mouth, and eyes. You can then use neural networks to analyze every feature of the face, pixel by pixel, and use that analysis to label the features with a particular emotion or feeling.

Facial coding process
The facial coding process: Capturing the face, analyzing the key parts of the face, applying a neural net, and mapping to a particular emotion

Emotion AI and chatbots

Emotion AI in chatbots is all about speech and text detection. When a virtual assistant hears you speak or a text-based chatbot sees what you typed, it extracts important features and intents to understand your message. For emotional understanding, it works in a similar way: emotion AI understands the user’s feelings by analyzing the tone, sounds, and how loud the voice is. For a text-based chatbot, certain words and phrases can act as important attributes to understand the tone of the message. Even punctuation and capitalization can be important characteristics to tell how a user is feeling. By analyzing these parts of the message, the chatbot can react in a specific way, depending on the user’s current emotions.

This is very similar to another concept in natural language processingsentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is all about determining whether some part of the text is highly positive, neutral, or negative. It can be used for businesses to understand customer reviews on a certain product. These processes, however, can also face some challenges when interpreting emotion from the human language. For example, if there was a statement, “I missed my bus to school. Amazing!” a human can tell that the user was being sarcastic. However, a machine interpreting the sentence might think it’s positive, since amazing is a very optimistic word. The idea of contextual understanding plays a very important role in the process of integrating emotion AI and chatbots!

Diving deep into the future

Bringing in the soft skills to robots and chatbots is something that is already entering the tech industry. Many companies and businesses are using tone, speech, and emotional detectors to comprehend what the emotional intent of a particular message is. In the future, emotional intelligence will come to play a vital role in the AI tech industry. In order for chatbots to fully comprehend a user’s message, there needs to be some sort of emotional understanding, as well. This can bring a profound impact and can transform many industries, such as online platforms, software, and even medicine.

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