Machines Can See Through That Poker Face
Even if you have a good emotional mask, there's a computer that can see through the cracks.
When we try to mask our emotions, we never put on a perfect poker face. There are little “microexpressions,” but catching them when they happen is tough. Law enforcement officials have tried training agents to spot these cracks in other people's emotional masks, but there's been much debate whether some people have the sensory and cognitive skills to be trained in such a fine area.
Researchers now believe they've developed an artificial intelligence capable of catching and dissecting these microexpressions.
Singularity University's Vivek Wadhwa details emerging technologies — including artificial intelligence — that we have to be smart about implementing.
Scientists say that machine vision has improved to the point where the computers outperform humans in areas of object and facial recognition. But being able to see the subtleties of expressions — the difference between a smile and a smirk — has also come a long way.
Xiaobai Li at the University of Oulu in Finland and his team believe they've developed a machine that rivals human capabilities in spotting and recognizing these microexpressions.
The barrier here was having a dataset to teach the computer in the first place. Machine learning requires a large database of information to work off of and getting such a niche database worth of microexpressions doesn't sound like the easiest of tasks.
The MIT Technology Review agrees, writing that “much previous work has focused on posed expressions, but various psychologists have pointed out the limitations of this method, not least of which is that microexpressions look significantly different to posed expressions.”
However, Li and his team apparently tackled this by showing 20 participants a series of emotional videos. But incentive to not show emotion was given by the researchers telling participants they would have to fill out a long survey about any emotions they displayed while watching the videos. Tricky.
“Our method is the first system that has ever been tested on a hard, spontaneous microexpression data set, containing natural microexpressions,” the team said. “It outperforms humans at microexpression recognition by a significant margin, and performs comparably to humans at the combined microexpression spotting and recognition task.”
The possibilities of this technology could extend beyond law enforcement and psychology. There could be a Google Glass-type device for emotion sensing. However, I wonder if a computer taking over the ability to sense emotion would cripple some areas of our brains, making us incapable of recognizing emotions without it.
I can't help but make a comparison to the GPS — a great piece of technology, but one that we've come to rely on so much that we're incapable of finding our way without it now.
Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker
Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Staff
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.
- The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
- The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
- People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Meanwhile, Spaniards are the least likely to say their culture is superior to others.
- Survey by Pew Research Center shows great variation in chauvinism across Europe.
- Eight most chauvinist countries are in the east, and include Russia.
- British much more likely than French (and slightly more likely than Germans) to say their culture is "superior" to others.
The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.
- Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
- Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
- Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.