A new computer program knows how you feel

Researchers in Bangladesh have invented a new computer program that can guess how you feel. Its developers say this is the first time keystroke patterns and text input analysis have been combined.

In their study, which was published this week in Behaviour & Information Technology, A.F.M. Nazmul Haque Nahin and his colleagues say that the program was accurate up to 87% of the time. (Which, let’s face it, means that our computers might be better at gauging how we feel than our partners, families, and most of our friends.)

In their research, they asked participants to type their own words, stopping every so often to note their emotional state, which they were asked to pick from a list of seven: joy, fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and guilt. This helped the researchers to identify the keystrokes and typing patterns that might signify these particular moods. They then asked the subjects to rate their feelings before using a computer on which the program was installed, when they typed passages of sample text.

The computer was able to correctly judge the mental state of participants most of the time, being most successful in the case of anger (81%) and joy (87%), perhaps because these emotions are particularly distinct.

Last month, a team from Oxford suggested that the way we type and hold our tech is so individual that it constitutes an ‘electronic DNA’ and that measuring those factors would be a better way to secure our gadgets than current passwords. Nahin and his team likewise say that their program could improve computer security. They also suggest that it could be useful for gaming and teaching. But do we really want our computers to know how we feel, or would we prefer them to remain blank slates we can use to convey as much or as little as we’re comfortable sharing?

Image via Pixabay.

Diane Shipley