The new science of emotion

Recent scientific discoveries have paved the way for AI that can respond appropriately to our emotional behaviors.

The Journey

1739

Hume argues that emotions drive choice and well-being.

1739

Hume argues that emotions drive choice and well-being.

“Reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions” - David Hume.

At Hume AI, we take this as a guiding principle behind ethical AI: in order to serve our preferences, algorithms should be guided by our emotions. 

Recognizing the need to map out the emotions that animate thought and action, Hume also proposed a taxonomy of over 16 emotional states, but lacked scientific evidence.

1872

Darwin surveys human emotion.

1872

Darwin surveys human emotion.

Charles Darwin described similarities and differences in over 20 facial, bodily, and vocal expressions across species, cultures, and stages of life.

The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals was his third major work.

He lacked statistical methods to test his hypotheses about human emotion. But 150 years later, studies are confirming many of Darwin’s observations.

1969

Ekman documents six facial expressions.

1969

Ekman documents six facial expressions.

Paul Ekman traveled the world to study whether six expressions were universally recognized.

By focusing on a narrow set of behaviors, Ekman was able to use the statistical methods available to him to confirm some of Darwin’s ideas.

However, the focus on just six emotions also introduced what we call the 30% problem: the focus of scientists for 50 years on only 30% of the full range of emotions people experience.

1970 - 2020

Scientists try to reduce human emotion.

1970 - 2020

Scientists try to reduce human emotion.

While many scientists focus on six emotions, others attempt to derive taxonomy of emotion from data.

However, due to statistical limitations, these results lead to even more reductive theories of emotion. 

Some scientists endorse “core affect:” the notion that emotions are largely captured by how pleasant or unpleasant and calm or aroused an experience or expression seems.