Artificial Empathy or Coding of Empathy into Machines

by January 7, 2020

Normally we humans thrive on empathy as we are social creatures. We like to think that we are logical creatures. In truth, our emotions govern a large part of our intelligence. Have this thought cross your mind, does artificial intelligence need empathy?  If so, there are some use cases where empathy can be most helpful in AI Systems?

In a 2012 study, by Aron K. Barbey, neuroscientists confirmed that emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence share many neural systems for integrating cognitive, social, and affective processes. This study confirms what psychologists have suspected for decades: that there are interdependencies between emotional intelligence and general intelligence.


Empathy as a Part of Emotional Intelligence

Empathy is a part of emotional intelligence. Empathy means the ability to understand or feel what another person is experiencing.

According to emotional intelligence pyramid, empathy is above emotion recognition. It is our empathy that helps us work toward emotional unity as we proceed toward self-actualization.


The Process of Empathy

When we talk about empathy, we often talk about empathy in terms of our feelings, reactions, and adopt the emotional stimuli that we receive. There are three parts of empathy-

Cognitive empathy – understanding another person’s  feelings

Affective empathy – the capacity to respond with appropriate emotion.

Somatic empathy – physical reaction associated with the empathy process.


Empathy vs. Artificial Empathy

Artificial intelligence is best described in Minter Dial,  book, Heartificial Empathy, it describes artificial empathy as the coding of empathy into machines.

Minter Dial in Heartificial Empathy said, “Empathy is patiently and sincerely seeing the world through the other person’s eyes. It is not learned in school; it is cultivated over a lifetime.”

Here, businesses have to decide the appropriate use cases of empathy in order to develop effective AI systems that add value to the businesses.

Therefore challenge will be finding the right mixture and chemistry for the agents to be assisted by machines in providing a more empathic and effective services.

In identifying appropriate use cases of artificial empathy, organizations can then implement more empathy into their businesses and the services that they provide for their customers.


Empathy and Ethics

In recent years, as AI systems are integrated into our businesses and homes, we are increasingly concerned about the ethics of AI. Are we using artificial intelligence for the right purposes to bring out the best in humanity is the concern for many?

Inside whether or not to bring empathy into AI Systems is the debate around ethics.

When we talk about humans leading ethical lives, we often talk about a life where we can use empathy in abundance.

Similarly for AI, the intention of using empathy in AI for specific business cases to enhance our businesses can drastically increase our prospects of ethical business practices.

Recently, AI researchers have focused on identifying emotions. Robots can now to teach autistic kids emotional intelligence by focusing on identifying different types of emotions. These robots are able to recognize and identify emotions. Once they identify the emotion, they can communicate this emotion to teach the children.

Emoshape is the first company to hold the patent technology for emotional synthesis. The emotion chip or EPU developed by Emoshape can enable any AI System to understand the range of emotions experienced by humans. The range of your emotions is mapped onto a gradient where the degree of each emotion can be observed.

SignalactionAI is using Emoshape to make situational awareness actionable by generating real-time insights with emotional intelligence from voice and text communication to empower users to make smart choices for positive outcomes.

AI is doing their best in the field of healthcare. The are helping doctors and nurses in giving quality care to dementia patients.

AI robots can use empathy to care for dementia patients without feeling “burned-out”.  They can work closely with doctors to gather information and refine treatment plans. They can work with nurses to monitor patients and engage in day to day care. At the same time, dementia patients who receive consistent empathetic care report better outcomes.


How Can AI with Empathy Make Better Decisions?

This means that the system needs to be embedded in the “artificial brain” to affect both the cognitive processes as well as the emotional processes.

There are many use cases in business that require at least some demonstration of empathy.

For instance, a customer service chatbot can speak to the customer as a person would. This chatbot will be able to speak the scripted questions with tone and inflection. Then, based on the client’s responses, the empathetic chatbot will be able to sense complex emotions such as frustration.

Based on the quality of the emotional experience of the customer, the chatbot can decide to forward the customer on to a live service agent when the customer is unusually frustrated.



As our AI Systems move towards artificial general intelligence, it will be easier to identify use cases where empathy can be helpful in AI Systems to allow for more ethical implementations of AI.

Companies that embrace empathetic AI Systems will be able to inject more empathy into the way their businesses are conducted.