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Heart of the Machine: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emotional Intelligence Hardcover – March 7, 2017
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"A fascinating, and sometimes disturbing, look at a rapidly approaching future where smart machines understand and manipulate our emotionsand ultimately bond with us in ways that blur the line between ourselves and our technology." Martin Ford, New York Times bestselling author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
Richard Yonck’s Heart of the Machine is a fascinating speculation on the near- and far-term significance of emotions for user interfaces, machine-mediated communication between humans, and what technology and humans may become.” Vernor Vinge, computer scientist and Hugo Awardwinning author of Rainbows End
Your world is about to change in shocking and amazing ways. The line between machines and humanity is blurring giving us a strange and beautiful tomorrow. Yonck takes us on a journey through this world from the science and technology of today and into the possibilities and perils that lay just over the horizon. If you want to catch a glimpse of the future open this book.” Brian David Johnson, former chief futurist at Intel and founder of the 21st Century Robot Project
"[Yonck] makes a compelling argument for why affective computing (technology that can read, interpret, replicate, and experience emotions and use those abilities to influence us) is the key to AI and the heart of how we will work with computers. . . . an engaging read." ―Library Journal
Very important for any decision-maker and a must-read for corporations for planning their road map. It is also recommended to everyone who is curious enough to understand the future. Even the very near future.” Yoram Levanon, chief science officer at Beyond Verbal Communication, Ltd.
"How we interact with technology is changing: it is becoming more relational and conversational. Yonck makes a very strong case why our devices and advanced AI systems need to have emotional intelligence, specifically the ability to sense human emotions and adapt accordingly. This book highlights key considerations both for academic researchers as well as business leaders looking for commercial applications of AI." Rana el Kaliouby, cofounder and CEO of Affectiva
"By using the futurist’s most valuable communications toolthe scenarioto introduce his chapters, Yonck moves between anecdotes from research in affective computing and AI/robotics to speculative scenarios, all with the even hand of a skilled storyteller.” —Cynthia G. Wagner, consulting editor at Foresight Signals, former editor of The Futurist magazine
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The only negative to the book (as far as writing goes), was that in the first part one section got into the early development of man. I don’t know if I’m such a tech person, I found that abominably uninteresting or that it was rather dryly written. Maybe a bit of both. You could skip this and get directly to the interesting stuff.
I like that each chapter within each part, starts with a scenario to set the tone for the section. It helps give you a flavor of what is to follow.
The book has several sections.
Part 1: The road to Affective Computing
Part 2: The rise of Emotional Machines
Part 3: The future of Artificial Emotional machines
Within these individual sections various aspects of this topic are covered.
Part 1 includes the section I found torturous. Essentially it was a history of how emotion affects our lives and the underlying history of human development that led to this. This section also roughly gives a flavor of how affective technology could compensate neurologically disabled people much as prostheses do today for people with missing limbs. Similarly computers could help us manage emotions, by detecting how we are doing and providing deflections when we are getting too heated and propping us up when needed. Conversely, we could use computers to help us read other’s emotions to anticipate their actions, in things like gaming.
Part 2 covers a mix of items as well. Mostly it covers the use of robots, enabled with affective computing to anticipate and respond to our needs, and getting used to robots in our midst. One problem is the reaction that people experience when they run into something almost lifelike but not quite. The “uncanny valley”, provides a unnerving response that our nervous system is to blame for. Essentially robots would be our assistants and potentially provide guidance in many areas. A big one is as a tutor. Our ability to learn is also affected by our emotions and if a affective computer can detect our frustration or boredom it can design teaching based on our pace. Not surprising the military has use for affecting computing. It’s already known for manipulating young men at war. However, affective computing can conceivably help them recover from this training as well. It can address PTSD issues, by retraining their brain. Far from the battlefield would be caring for the elderly. This is an exhausting task for the able-bodied and often rife with abuses. Since our aging population is growing and aides to help them are in short supply.This could be taken over by affective robots tirelessly anticipating the needs of these elders and could be specially designed to deal with the exhaustive demands of a population
taxing due to it’s mental decline. And then a chapter looking at the flip side of all these uses, what is the dark side, what could go wrong?
Part 3 is where we(humans), affective computing, AIs and robots get a bit blurred. Along with reacting to our moods we could use affective computing to out right change them. This gets into potentially addictive stuff and the problems it can create. Affective robots could provide companionship to lonely people and on the more extreme case, who said we can’t marry them (yeah that was out there for me too). Fiction portrays trouble starting when robots become conscious and within this section there is discussion of how to measure consciousness> However this measurement is based on tests that we can administer, but also program to pass, so this is a tough question. Fiction also harps on the bad side of good things and I’m sure there will be a bit of both. But robots and affective computing is here to stay. There is no going back.
Much has been written lately about Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and apparently for good reasons. The idea of machines acquiring human intelligence is not easily comprehended or accepted. After all, to what extent can we yield software to mechanical instruments and how much subsequent control could we have over its use?
The author of this book, Mr. Richard Yonck, takes us through the developing stages of A.I. highlighting its successes and weaknesses. It is mainly in the final chapters that he expresses his concerns. Interestingly, recent articles in the New York Times, the Guardian, and others, echo that concern and even propose some solutions.
But, it is obvious that for the present, A.I. has been of great advantage to the public. We are indeed surrounded by computers doing chores for us of all types and sizes. Think of the machines that answer phones, or control our room temperature or direct our flights, etc. In manufacturing we recognize the immense task that these machine carry out under inhuman conditions. In training it has been shown how little children respond to robots in carrying out their educational duties. Computers can now read our eyes, verify our faces, and recognize our voices. The immense advantages are too many to recount here. Suffice it to recall how a computer a few years ago was able to beat the world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Every body was aghast - a machine overcomes a great human mind!!??
With so much success the software people have been trying to go a step further: to introduce emotions into computer systems. This indeed is a daunting task. How could machines become emotional? Yet, attempts are going on. As a first step the computer is being trained to recognize emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, suspicion, stress, etc. This is being done laboriously by showing the computer thousands of happy faces, sad faces, worried looks, etc. until it starts recognizing a person’s mood through his facial expressions, Supposedly, a robot should one day be able to look into a human face and say “You don’t look happy today. Can I help you?”. That would surely be very endearing! But this is only a crude first step. Most think that until a computer learns to read, understand and summarize, it would be nowhere close to human intelligence.
What then is worrying all the experts now ? Questions are being asked: Could computers become more intelligent and independent leaving us humans behind? Would we lose control over them? What must we do? Mr. Yonck believes this machine-human dichotomy has been with us through history and that we should continue to embrace it and co-evolve with it. Mr. Gary Marcus, In his NYTimes article (July 29) believes that an international conference should be held to agree on a future plan. Some agree; others have alternative proposals. Sadly, however, to this date there has not been a complete agreement on an acceptable course of action.
Fuad R Qubein