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If Affectiva, a startup that is developing computers to read human emotion, has its way, the future may soon look like a scene out of I, Robot.  

"[C]omputers and technology are becoming only smarter, faster and more intuitive," reports Jenna Wortham in the Times. "Artificial intelligence is creeping into our lives at a steady pace. Devices and apps can anticipate what we need, sometimes even before we realize it ourselves. So why shouldn’t they understand our feelings?"

Another company, Beyond Verbal, is also creating software that will analyze speech and be able to "indicate qualities like arrogance or annoyance, or both."

"Looking to conversational A.I. to solve problems that are largely connected to social and political conditions leaves all of the problems in place and, in the best case scenario, offers only a momentary relief to the person suffering through them," Complex tech columnist Michael Thomsen wrote in April.

What, then, would be the upside of emotion recognition technologies like Affectiva or Beyond Verbal?  Would we welcome them into our daily lives with open arms? Or, worse yet: Would we become more guarded as a result?

"Once a phone really does understand our emotions, the possibilities—good and bad—seem to spiral without limit," Wortham noted. "We’re not there yet, but the future starts now."

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[via New York Times]