The AI Now Institute, a top research centre focused on the future of artificial intelligence, has spoken out on technology that analyses human emotions.
Such software is sometimes used to assess individuals at job interviews, or to figure out whether a criminal suspect is telling the truth.
The institute argues that there is weak evidence on the effectiveness of the innovations, and that society should be hesitant in their implementation.
Co-founder Prof Kate Crawford said: “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.
“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.
“At the same time as these technologies are being rolled out, large numbers of studies are showing that there is… no substantial evidence that people have this consistent relationship between the emotion that you are feeling and the way that your face looks.”
Expert Charles Nduka, speaking to the BBC, noted that someone could frown in consternation, but may also frown because a strong light is shining on their face. AI is not yet capable of making distinctions in cases such as this.
Oxygen Forensics, a company offering emotional recognition products, argued that its products would help to make the UK a safer place.
“The ability to detect emotions, such as anger, stress, or anxiety, provide law-enforcement agencies additional insight when pursuing a large-scale investigation,” said COO Lee Reiber.
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