21 February 2011

Does HAL Cry Digital Tears? Emotion and Computers – Rosalind Picard

This is an abstract of a chapter from Rosalind W. Picard’s book HAL’s Legacy. The piece is available on the MIT Press site here (note that there are 9 sections to the chapter).


Returning repeatedly to the illustrative example of HAL 9000, Picard examines the plausibility and consequence of making computers understand and even experience emotional states. By analyzing expressions of emotion carried by, for instance, vocal inflection, facial expressions, body temperature, and heart rate and comparing this information to expected affective states given the situation, a computer could recognize and respond to one’s emotions, using its knowledge to improve its own performance or enable you to perform better. Implementation of affect understanding in ubiquitous computers could convey information about one’s state to loved ones, or be used to improve product design or medical diagnoses. Additionally, creating computers that really experience emotions may be essential to implementing effective intelligent artifacts; affect may be crucial even in rational decision making. Computers which improperly use affective states, however, could be disastrous. While we should certainly proceed, then, we should do so with caution.


Annotated Bibliography