Follow the Kairos team as we explore empathy and its importance to AI.

The New Age of Artificial Intelligence: Giving it Some Heart

There have been many discussions this year about humanizing artificial intelligence (AI) as it continues to evolve and become part of our everyday lives. Fears have been voiced like; “artificial intelligence will replace us in the workplace” and “if we don’t humanize AI it can be used to take over humans”.

Those fears have been heard and now there are more people working together to find the right ways to humanize AI so that it will better serve us.


Part 1: What is Empathy?
Part 2: Empathetic Machines Creating Jobs?
Part 3: Impressive Artificial Intelligence Using Empathy Now
Part 4: Is Facial Recognition and Emotion Analysis the Answer to Empathetic AI?
Part 5: The Future of Empathetic AI


At Kairos, we believe AI needs to learn about empathy. Empathy is much more than sympathy, and it can be broken up into three different types, but as Webster Dictionary puts it empathy is:

“The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.”

To sum it up, empathy is a learned behavior where we mentally put ourselves in someone else’s position and try to feel what they are feeling. For AI to have an understanding of empathy is a game changer.

In the Workplace

I am not going to deny that machines are entering our workplace and replacing some jobs, it’s happening, yet they are also creating new jobs and interacting with work staff and customers.

New jobs are being created through the development and maintenance of AI as well as the ability to understand the data it is collecting. That data can also lead to additional job creation as it may reveal customer needs that can only be met by a human.

As AI interacts with customers and staff, we believe it needs to recognize our emotions and communicate affective and emotional responses. To do this we look at two specific tools.

Facial Recognition and Emotion Analysis

At Kairos, our Human Analytics API allows AI to recognize, verify, and identify specific faces while also determining someone’s emotions. This is done through cameras picking up specific facial features, patterns, and then measuring them against trained data about the human face. From this you can program AI to respond differently to different people and different emotional inputs.

So, that doesn’t mean your AI can ‘feel’, yet it does mean that it understands you’re going through a set of emotions. And different responses will cause other emotional responses from you. Maybe someday AI will be able to feel emotions like humans but for now it can understand and continue to learn through deep learning.

The human face may well be the key to the future of AI.

AI “Feeling” Now

What’s impressive is that some companies have been working on empathetic AI for a few years, and their software is proving to be successful. They have been doing this by using tools like facial recognition and emotion analysis and pairing them with other tools like voice analysis and body movement detection.

Some successful empathetic AI includes:

  • Koko bot: A mental health chatline that connects humans with professionals if needed. 90% of the chats are moderated by a smart AI that responds with empathetic statements, and facts, to specific keywords.
  • Ellie: Created by the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies, Ellie is an AI like-minded counselor. Ellie has been learning from humans since the late 90’s and has created human connections through interview interactions.
  • Nao and Kasper: Two different child-like companion robots who have been built to understand empathy and mimic it back to humans.

Empathetic AI in the Future

Remember those fears I discussed in the beginning? Well, it turns out a lot of people heard those fears and want to make sure we avoid them.

Many teams of developers, companies, universities, and even our own government have started to collaborate to discuss creating a more empathetic AI.

Humanizing AI will help us humanize ourselves.

So, AI’s future is bright, and empathetic AI’s future is even brighter because we are coming together and branching off of one another’s ideas to build products that will change the world.

At Kairos this is an exciting time as we are walking alongside the future of empathetic AI. If you’re a developer, take a walk with us and show us how you can bring empathetic AI to your project.

For a more in-depth look at Empathy and AI check out Kairos’ five-part series:

Kairos’ mission is to make it easy for any business to benefit from face analysis, enriching the experience between humans and machines, and being the premier partner for anything to do with facial recognition.