Commentary: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Texting and Emotion by Anil Shrivastava “Musafir”

Jan 19 AITexting seems to be replacing direct human interaction and personal warmth. Human communication is not about exchange of information alone. We also exchange our emotions with each other. That’s what distinguishes us from machines.

Humans think about many things in parallel while communicating with each other. We think of past, present and future together. We also try to judge other person’s’ motives. We may have hidden agendas. This is not possible to achieve through limited vocabulary and grammar used in AI. Unlike machines, human communication is not linear. Emotion cannot be fully expressed through very limited vocabulary and grammar in any language.

Why is it important to interject emotions into our communication? If all of our actions were based on logic and rational thinking, then there would be no need for emotional spin. Fortunately or unfortunately, an overwhelmingly large percentage of our decisions are based on emotions. This is a part of human nature. I don’t know if society would become more effective or turn into a cold robotic place if all actions were indeed well thought-out and based on solid reasoning.
We, humans are already failing to communicate properly causing tension and war between our loved ones, communities, regions and countries. If AI can help to clearly transmit our true messages, more power to it.

Texting has several advantages: it allows one to relay the bare minimum of needed information without wasting one’s time in exchanging pleasantries and discussing a whole array of irrelevant issues. It also allows avoidance of conversation with certain people. One can send numeric information such as numbers, address, price of a certain item and time for a meeting without having the other party write it down. One does not have to face emotional reactions from the other party based on the information transmitted. This is adequate for exchange of information, but we don’t live by information alone. We need love, compassion, encouragement, apathy and other human emotions. These things can only be achieved through change in pitch, modulation and sincerity.
This last aspect is also the downside of texting. In fact, the very reason we want to even talk is to share our emotions. It is interesting to note that an entire array of “emojis” that one can attach to an e-mail or text in an attempt to convey emotions is emerging. However, it is obvious that a finite number of these cute symbols would be inadequate to express all of our emotions. How do you distinguish between love and enchantment for example?

We don’t know what the future holds. Scientists are attempting to add emotion to AI language. I do not believe that we can get rid of emotions completely from our exchanges. It remains to be seen how AI would change human-to-human emotional interactions. But I also know that anything is possible. Just thinking!


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