NTT DATA Business Solutions
Tina Dyhr Dupont | July 6, 2023 | 4 min

Affective Computing: Bridging the Gap Between Emotions and AI

Emotions are an intrinsic part of being human. They shape our experiences, influence decision-making, and play a crucial role in our overall well-being. But have you ever wondered how emotions and hormones intertwine? In this blog, Tina Dupont explores the captivating relationship between human emotions and the generation of hormones in the body. Moreover, she explains how digital humans, enabled by the emerging field of affective computing, can mimic and generate these same emotions and hormones. 

Digital humans, life-like virtual entities, are designed to simulate human appearance, behavior, and interactions.

Understanding Emotions and Hormones

Emotions, those captivating states that color our experiences, arise from a delightful interplay of our minds and bodies, responding to the world around us. When we experience emotions, our brains release certain chemical messengers called hormones. These hormones act as signaling molecules, transmitting messages throughout the body via the bloodstream, ultimately influencing our mental and physical states. 

Different emotions are associated with specific hormonal responses. For instance, feelings of happiness and joy are often accompanied by the release of endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which contribute to a sense of pleasure and well-being. On the other hand, stress and fear trigger the release of cortisol and adrenaline, preparing our bodies for a “fight-or-flight” response. 

The intricate relationship between emotions and hormones goes beyond the immediate physiological response. Long-term emotional states can also impact hormone levels and subsequently affect our health. Chronic stress, for example, can lead to elevated cortisol levels, which may have detrimental effects on the immune system, cardiovascular health, and mental well-being.  

Affective Computing and Digital Humans

Affective computing is an interdisciplinary field that aims to develop systems capable of recognizing, interpreting, and responding to human emotions. Digital humans, powered by affective computing technologies, are designed to simulate and replicate human emotional experiences. Through sophisticated programming, these systems can generate appropriate emotional responses and, in some cases, even stimulate hormonal reactions.  

One of the fundamental ways digital humans mimic human emotions is through facial expressions. Digital humans adeptly communicate using facial cues like smiles, frowns, and subtle eyebrow movements. Moreover, by harnessing the power of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and analyzing speech input, digital humans can tailor their responses to match a person’s emotional state. By examining the choice of words, and context, digital humans can gauge the underlying emotions expressed in written or verbal communication. This capability enables them to provide empathetic responses and engage in emotionally intelligent interactions. Whether you express happiness and a positive mood or any other sentiment, digital humans can provide a response that resonates with you. 

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What Are Digital Humans?

  • Digital humans are computer-generated virtual beings that mimic human appearance, behavior, and interaction.
  • They are powered by artificial intelligence and advanced animation technologies, allowing them to respond to users in real-time and engage in natural conversations.
  • Digital humans find applications in customer service, education, healthcare, HR, and various other fields where realistic and engaging human-like interactions are desired.
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The Future of Hyperpersonalized Interactions

The development of digital humans capable of provoking and mimicking emotions and hormonal responses has significant implications across various domains. In healthcare, they can assist individuals with preventive care, guidance, and support, providing extra soothing information and guidance in areas where human resources are scarce. For example, they can offer assistance with wayfinding in large hospitals, streamline form-filling processes, provide pre- and post-care information, and nudge patients towards home treatment options. These digital human companions help alleviate the sense of institutionalization that often comes with certain conditions, empowering patients to take daily actions to enhance their quality of life. Notably, we have successfully implemented an exciting case involving two hospitals in Denmark, demonstrating the transformative potential of this approach. 

In education, digital humans can create immersive and hyper-personalized learning environments. One remarkable solution that embodies the potential of digital humans is our own AI Learning Helper. Designed to make home-schooling easy and engaging, this innovative tool helps children to learn, teachers to teach and parents to home-school. It is designed to understand what a child says, detect his or her emotional state and adopt the teaching strategy if the AI detects a change in motivation or frustration. The AI Learning Helper can be personalized to one’s interest, and one of its biggest perks is: It has all the time in the world to focus on the individual child. 

Ethical Considerations: Safeguarding Privacy and Preventing Manipulation

However, the emergence of digital humans with emotional capabilities also raises ethical concerns. It becomes crucial to ensure that these systems are deployed responsibly, with robust safeguards in place to protect user privacy and mitigate the risks of potential manipulation. At NTT DATA, we acknowledge our responsibility in shaping the future of AI and its interaction with humanity. That’s why we have established comprehensive AI guidelines, which guide our practices toward creating a human-centered society where humans and AI coexist harmoniously. These guidelines prioritize fairness, reliability, and explainability in the use of AI, ensuring that the benefits of digital humans are harnessed while upholding ethical standards. 

How Digital Humans Shape Our Future

The intricate relationship between human emotions and hormones offers a fascinating glimpse into the complexity of our psychological and physiological makeup. Through affective computing and the development of digital humans, we are gradually unraveling the mysteries of emotions, enabling these systems to replicate and generate similar emotional experiences. As technology advances, it is essential to approach the development and deployment of digital humans with both curiosity and caution, ensuring that they are designed and utilized responsibly. 

As we continue to explore the frontiers of affective computing, the convergence of emotions, hormones, and digital humans holds immense promise. It has the potential to enhance human-machine interactions, provide personalized and empathetic support, and contribute to our understanding of emotions and their impact on our overall well-being. By embracing technological advancements with responsible practices, we can ensure that the integration of digital humans into our lives brings about positive and meaningful transformations. 


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