In 1968, Stanley Kubrick famously highlighted the promise of emotionally-aware artificial intelligence. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the sentient robot, HAL 9000,  acknowledged a fellow crew member’s anguish by stating, “Look, Dave, I can see you’re upset about this.”

At the time, this display of acute understanding of complex human emotion by a machine was, much like the film, in the realm of science fiction. However, 50 years later, over a third of the world’s population possess devices with the potential to infer a user’s emotional state.

The capabilities of objects we carry with us every day—smartphones, fitness trackers, and watches—have entered an emotion-sensing Cambrian Explosion. They are fast becoming active participants in personalizing the world around us and influencing the content we consume on a daily basis.

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Chris Udemans

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com.