What is emotionally intelligent AI? As new advancements in AI take shape, with these revelations have come the advent of machines designed to integrate emotional intelligence. 

This article will attempt to uncover the following:

  • What is meant by “emotionally intelligent” AI
  • Some popular and emerging emotionally intelligent AI tools
  • Where the technology is trending

Emotion or AI-Motion? 

Currently, most generative AI tools use large language models to generate answers to a host of questions posed by people. However, those models are often complex, lack social etiquette, and aren’t user-friendly. Hence, the introduction of emotionally intelligent AI.

Emotional intelligence is a quality or trait that has until now, been associated with human beings. It is typically used to describe people who have a handle on their emotions and are self-aware. Other terms that are often synonymous with emotional intelligence are “Emotional IQ” and “EQ” (emotional quotient). 

So, how can a machine exhibit emotional qualities such as caring, compassion, and mindfulness?

The answer lies in the method by which AI is developed. Since AI is not real in the human sense, it must be programmed or trained on how to respond. Up to this point, the focus of large language models has been accuracy, which makes sense. However, we now see the focus of the technology shifting beyond precision to demonstrating humanlike traits. While these are still programs and not actual humans, AI is becoming more emotionally intelligent because it is programmed to be more considerate and thoughtful, responding more like an emotionally grounded human than a cold or emotionless machine.

Tools to Consider

One of the first and most successful emotionally intelligent AI tools was Pi (personal intelligence). The idea behind this application is for people to be able to converse with AI in a way that mimics how a human would talk or behave. While it is important to remember that this is not an actual human being, valuable benefits can be gleaned from the tool.

Some have suggested that this tool could eventually be used for personal coaching or mental health counseling, particularly for those who cannot afford it otherwise or lack access to such services. Visualize yourself exchanging text messages with a close friend. In that case, this app feels eerily similar to that experience, except that the “friend” you’re chatting with knows a lot about various topics, and they are incredibly polite. It’s almost like having access to your own butler or assistant.

Character.AI is another widget that incorporates elements of emotional intelligence. This tool can mimic a practice interview scenario, allow you to create your own AI character, or even engage in an AI-based dating simulation. While the user experience with Character.AI differs somewhat from Pi, the technology behind both platforms attempts to simulate or re-create the feeling of interacting with another person.

The Future of Emotionally Intelligent AI

It isn’t easy to fully anticipate where this industry segment will trend. However, there seems to be a consolidation happening currently at the top. Microsoft recently acquired a significant portion of the executive leadership team from Pi and now owns three of the five leading AI companies across the globe. While Character.AI is still technically a startup, it was started by two former Google employees and is currently valued at around $1 Billion, even while generating no official revenue.

The most common trend in AI currently is for smaller startups with the potential to be acquired or gobbled up by larger tech companies, which will likely continue. While several successful AI startups have launched with the purest of altruistic intentions of helping solve the world’s most challenging problems, the potential for value and intellectual property are often too irresistible for technology heavyweights in pursuing global dominance.

Reflection Points

  1. Which emotionally intelligent AI tools have you tried? What is your experience with these platforms?
  2. Where do you believe the future of emotionally intelligent AI is headed? What new advancements can you anticipate that build upon such technologies?
  3. What businesses that you currently interact with could benefit from this technology? Consider the impact of these tools on business functions such as marketing, sales, operations, HR, etc.