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Affective Computing 1st Edition

9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262661157
ISBN-10: 0262661152
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Editorial Reviews Review

As a scientist who works in computer development, Rosalind Picard is accustomed to working with what is rational and logical. But in her research on how to enable computers to better perceive the world, she discovered something surprising: In the human brain, a critical part of our ability to see and perceive is not logical, but emotional. Therefore, for computers to have some of the advanced abilities we desire, it may be necessary that they comprehend and, in some cases, feel emotions. Affective Computing isn't about making PCs that get grumpy when you enter repeated errors or that may react out of fear like 2001's Hal or The Terminator's SkyNet; it's about incorporating emotional competencies that allow computers to better perform their jobs. On the simplest level, this may mean installing sensors and programming that simply allow a computerized system to determine the emotional state of its user and respond accordingly. The book also mentions options such as the ability to include emotional content in computer-moderated communications that work far better than today's emoticons.

The first part of Picard's book introduces the theoretical foundations and principles of affective computing in a thoroughly nontechnical manner. She explores why feelings may soon become part of computing technology and discusses the advantages and the concerns of such a development. Picard raises a number of ethical issues, including the potential for misleading users into thinking they're communicating with another human and the need to incorporate responsible behavior into affective computer programming, along the lines of Isaac Asimov's famous three laws of robotics. In part 2, the book becomes more technical, although it is still within the comprehension of most laypeople. This section discusses how computers might be designed, constructed, and programmed to allow them to recognize, express, and even have emotions. This book is a solid scientific introduction to a subject that seems like a doorway into science fiction. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Compelling.... Picard convincingly demonstrates that computers can also be designed to think about feelings and how to rationally act in light of them.... A groundbreaking preface to a plausible direction in computer design.

(Norman Weinstein Technology Review)

Today's computers are cold, logical machines. They needn't be. In this important book, Rosalind Picard presents a compelling image, not only of how machines might come to have emotions, but why they must. Emotions: not just for animals and people.

(Donald A. Norman, Hewlett-Packard; Professor Emeritus, Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego; Author of Things that make us smart)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1st edition (July 31, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262661152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262661157
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By on January 5, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Most of this book is a primer for non-clinicians on what is meant by 'human emotions', and how a computer in physical contact with someone could identify that person's mood and respond appropriately to it. Picard makes her case that 'emotional intelligence' would be a useful attribute for software. A human who loses the ability to feel emotions becomes, not admirably logical like Mr. Spock, but unable to make quick, simple, arbitrary decisions and prone to repeat mistakes. Just like most software today. Picard relates the use of affective computing primarily to the 'wearable computers' that researchers at MIT have been playing with for over 10 years to do mostly trivial functions like take photographs and generate muzak. There wasn't much here for those of us who have to interact through keyboards/mice and monitors, and surprisingly no attempt to connect affective computing with related techniques such as fuzzy logic. There is an excellent source reference list at the back.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is an interesting book, and I strongly agree with Picard's assertion that computers ought to be able to "recognize" and respond to human emotions. She does an excellent job of making and supporting this point. The other part of her thesis, that computers themselves should have "emotions" is much less clear. She never seemed to adequately make the case that a computer with its own emotions would be of any significant value for anything, and frankly I can't think of any useful applications for such an ability. Some sort of emotional component may be needed to fully support and achieve AI (and she makes this point) but in terms of sort of the standard user interface types of applications it's hard to imagine how such a capability could be useful.
Anyway, good book on a very interesting topic.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By on May 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating book with many implications for the fields of artifical intelligence and human-computer interaction. Picard provides a rich background on modern research in emotion and puts forth compelling arguments for the need to incorporate affective abilities in computers as, perhaps, the only way to allow them to respond intelligently to their environment and make rational decisions. An entertaining and mind-opening read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ladybug on March 17, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great book for knowing the history of affective computing and it's evolution. Outdated for today's classroom. I hope she writes another version on the cutting edge research being done in the present and how she sees the field in the next 10 years.
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15 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Paul Fidika on January 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
In pop-culture there is the usual dichotomy between someone who "thinks with their head" and one who "thinks with their heart". In fact, the more enlightened thinkers realize that this dichotomy is at least half false: people who are emotionally-impaired are not more rational than the rest of us, but are rather quite crippled and incapable of facing everyday life. (Though if you are not already convinced of this, this book will do little to persuade you.)

At the time when I first read this book, nearly a year ago now upon the recommendation of a friend, I was already convinced of the usefulness of emotions in AI, and was hoping to find some real concrete and useful results here regarding AI-emotion, which I could then apply to the design and construction of an AI which would presumably be of use to someone in the real world. Much to my dismay, there are NO such applications listed; Picard suggests that AIs should be given emotions, but doesn't bother to give any real applications in which these emotions would be useful, or what kind of emotions they should be given, or even what an "emotion" is for an AI!

The book discusses almost exclusively the problem of AIs, not having emotions, but understanding the emotions of humans. Sounds great, how about some applications? Picard then proceeds to suggest the most absurd applications imaginable; here are a few of them:

-Emotive Markup Language: Modify the hardware of a keyboard such that the computer can tell how much pressure was applied on each keystroke. Then have the machine interpret these pressure levels as "happy typing", "angry typing", etc.
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