USA - Emotion-Detecting Tech Should Be Restricted

Arno Froese

A leading research center has called for new laws to restrict the use of emotion-detecting tech.

The AI Now Institute says the field is “built on markedly shaky foundations.”

Despite this, systems are on sale to help vet job seekers, test criminal suspects for signs of deception, and set insurance prices.

The US-based body has found support in the UK from the founder of a company developing its own emotional-response technologies—but it cautioned that any restrictions would need to be nuanced enough not to hamper all work being done in the area.

AI Now refers to the technology by its formal name, affect recognition, in its annual report.

It says the sector is undergoing a period of significant growth and could already be worth as much as $20bn (£15.3bn).

“It claims to read, if you will, our inner-emotional states by interpreting the micro-expressions on our face, the tone of our voice or even the way that we walk,” explained co-founder Prof Kate Crawford.

“It’s being used everywhere, from how do you hire the perfect employee through to assessing patient pain, through to tracking which students seem to be paying attention in class.”

Prof Crawford suggested that part of the problem was that some firms were basing their software on the work of Paul Ekman, a psychologist who proposed in the 1960s that there were only six basic emotions expressed via facial emotions.

But, she added, subsequent studies had demonstrated there was far greater variability, both in terms of the number of emotional states and the way that people expressed them.

“The ability to detect emotions, such as anger, stress, or anxiety, provide law-enforcement agencies additional insight when pursuing a large-scale investigation,” said its chief operating officer, Lee Reiber.

“Ultimately, we believe that responsible application of this technology will be a factor in making the world a safer place.”

“Many job candidates have benefited from HireVue’s technology to help remove the very significant human bias in the existing hiring process,” spokeswoman Kim Paone told Reuters news agency.

“Before emotion detection can own making automated decisions, the industry needs more proof that machines can in fact effectively and consistently detect human emotion,” its chief executive Joshua Feast told the BBC.

Emteq—a Brighton-based firm trying to integrate emotion-detecting tech into virtual-reality headsets—was not among those flagged for concern.

Its founder said that while today’s AI systems could recognize different facial expressions, it was not a simple matter to deduce what the subject’s underlying emotional state was.

“One needs to understand the context in which the emotional expression is being made,” explained Charles Nduka.

“For example, a person could be frowning their brow not because they are angry but because they are concentrating or the sun is shining brightly and they are trying to shield their eyes. Context is key, and this is what you can’t get just from looking at computer vision mapping of the face.”

He, too, thought there was need to regulate use of the tech., 12 December 2019

Arno's commentary

What is interesting with this emotion-detecting technology is that it has no precedent; it’s brand new. No one really knows what will happen a few decades down the road.

What we do know for certain is that this technology, and many others likewise, will contribute to a safer world by reducing crime and the lately much-discussed potential terrorism threat. Furthermore, it stands to reason that success will quickly be copied and eventually become global.

The apostle Paul speaks of the real thing, however, and writes in 2 Corinthians 3:2: “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men.”

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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