Zoom receives backlash for emotion-detecting AI

Zoom has caused a stir following reports that it is working on an AI system for detecting emotions.

Protocol first reported on the system, which claims to scan users’ faces and speech to determine their emotions.

Zoom went into greater detail about the system in a blog post last month. According to the company, ‘Zoom IQ’ will be especially useful for assisting salespeople in improving their pitches based on the emotions of call participants.

Naturally, the system is viewed as dystopian and has received considerable criticism.

over 25 rights groups sent a joint letter to Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. The letter urges Zoom to cease research on emotion-based AI.

The letter’s signatories include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Muslim Justice League, and Access Now.

One of the key concerns is that emotion-detecting AI could be used for things like hiring or financial decisions; such as whether to grant loans. That has the possibility to increase existing inequalities.

“Results are not intended to be used for employment decisions or other comparable decisions. All recommended ranges for metrics are based on publicly available research,” Zoom explained.

Zoom IQ tracks metrics including:

  • Talk-listen ratio
  • Talking speed
  • Filler words
  • Longest spiel (monologue)
  • Patience
  • Engaging questions
  • Next steps set up
  • Sentiment/Engagement analysis

Esha Bhandari, Deputy Director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, called emotion-detecting AI “creepy” and “a junk science”.

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