January 31, 2015

You Can't Hide Your Feelings

You can try to hide your feeling, but it won't work...

Your emotions are now an open book to anyone with facial-recognition software, such as from Emotient, Affectiva, and Eyeris.

This video from Emotient shows examples of Dr. Marion Bartlett demonstrating very well how the system is able to pick up on her expressions of joy, sadness, surprise, anger, fear, disgust, and contempt. 

From broad displays of emotion to subtle spontaneous, natural displays, to micro, fast and involuntary expressions, the system detects and clearly displays it. 

Described in the Wall Street Journal, the software, in real time, successfully uses "algorithms to analyze people's faces" and is based on the work of Dr. Paul Ekman, who pioneered the study of facial expressions creating a catalog in the 1970s with "more than 5,000 muscle movements" linked to how they reveal your emotions. 

A single frame of a person's face can be used to extract 90,000 data points from "abstract patterns of light to tiny muscle movements, which get sorted by emotional categories."

With databases of billions of expressions from millions of faces in scores of countries around the world, the software works across ethnically diverse groups. 

Emotion-detection has a myriad of applications from national security surveillance and interrogation to in-store product marketing and generally gauging advertising effectiveness, to helping professionals from teachers to motivational speakers, executives, and even politicians hold people's attention and improve their messaging.

Then imagine very personal uses such as the software being used to evaluate job applicants or to tell if a spouse is lying about an affair...where does it end?

Of course, there are serious privacy issues in reading people's faces unbeknownst to or unwanted by them as well as possibilities for false positives, so that people's feelings are wrongly pegged or interpreted. 

In the end, unless you wear a physical mask or can spiritually transcend yourself above it all, we can see you and soon we will know not just what you are feeling, but also what you are thinking as well...it's coming. ;-)

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