Psychologists used to believe human intelligence could be represented with a single number. Today psychologists know that there are actually many different kinds of intelligence. Mathematical and spatial intelligence are what we usually we think of when we talk about intelligence and artificial researchers are getting close to creating machines that can imitate the way the human brain things when it comes to these kinds of intelligence. The more difficult hurdle will be creating emotionally intelligent machines that can pick up on the emotions of humans they interact with and respond appropriately. There are huge implications for emotionally intelligent machines, particularly in the field of customer support chat bots.

What are chat bots

Chat bots are computer programs that are designed to “converse” with humans, typically over the internet through a mobile device. Many companies are developing chat bots to assist with customer service inquiries and free up their human employees to work on other tasks.

The problem with chat bots

Though chat bot technology has come a long way in a short time, it’s not perfect. Most people still prefer to speak to a human when they are experiencing a problem and need assistance. There’s something impersonal about speaking to a chat bot even if it is fairly accurate at assessing the customer’s needs and assisting them.

That’s where research on emotional intelligence comes in. If machines develop emotional or interpersonal intelligence, they’ll be better at communicating with humans in a way that seems more natural and it will reduce the hesitance that many people feel towards chat bots.


A Chinese team of artificial intelligence developers has been working on something they call an emotional chatting machine (or ECM for short). They started by developing an emotion classifying algorithm. They tasked it with analyzing thousands of posts on a Chinese social media website so it would learn to recognize various emotions through the words that were being used and the way sentences were constructed. The technology is in the early stages but the end goal is to create an artificially intelligent chatbot that not only picks up on emotions, but can respond in the best way from a customer support perspective. For instance, if a customer is particularly upset, the chat bot could respond in a manner more likely to calm him/her down. That could be a huge and positive step for customer service chat bots.