The Role Of Empathy In Artificial Intelligence

Each passing year we are moving towards a technologically advanced era. What we mean by saying this is that those works which we manually perform these days will be automated as well. We will just have to say what we want to do and it will be done by a machine, possibly a robot. It is not a dream that we are watching, it will be real and won’t take much time as well. A technology known as artificial intelligence will make it all happen with other technologies. 

Whenever it comes to AI (Artificial Intelligence), a debate is there that a machine with embedded AI can answer your questions or perform tasks but it has no feelings at all. By saying feelings, we mean empathy on which all social creatures (humans) thrive. This debate led to the development of AE (Artificial Empathy) and this AE will work with AI. Let us see how and what role this will play in practical use. 

Artificial Intelligence

Before talking about empathetic AI, let us briefly discuss a few important topics and one of them is artificial intelligence. Also known as machine intelligence, AI is a branch of computer science that is developed to create smart machines. Artificial intelligence is quite different from real intelligence as it works on programmed software. We have many examples of practical uses of artificial intelligence including voice assistant by Google, Amazon, & Apple. This technology is still under development to make it better for society. AI will also make the industrial sector smarter by opening many possibilities that we could only imagine as of now. 


When we are talking about artificial empathy, we must know what empathy is. It is the ability of a person to feel what someone else’s feeling. In other words, we can say empathy is putting your feet in someone else’s shoes to see the world. It is all connected to emotions and feelings. Empathy is entirely different from the sympathy that most of us give to people as a reaction to distress. We can only understand how others feel about a particular thing is after seeing from their eyes. That is the real question about AI robots; if we want them to have feelings then AE is the important factor. 

Empathy in artificial intelligence

It won’t be wrong to say that this race is to mimic real emotions to make the augmented reality much better. We might have had a conversation with Alexa or Siri, the most common examples of AI. During the conversation, no one would have experienced any feelings or emotions. The goal is to create such a system that can understand how a person feels and then react accordingly with emotional intelligence. As everything has both positives and negatives, similarly this combination also has a debate for being ethical or unethical. 

For creating artificial general intelligence, empathy will be very crucial. While moving towards the technologically advanced world, this artificial empathy will play a key role in customer service. For example, a chatbot with AE can sense the agreement or disagreement of the customer with the tone & emotions and take further action accordingly. On the other hand, a system with only AI will just keep working according to the programmed software and may end up frustrating the client. So, an empathetic robot could be a boon for the customer service sector. 

There are expert’s statements and research that say that artificial empathy is required for the success of artificial intelligence. Why we are so targeted to embed empathy in bots? Why is this sudden rise in the talk about artificial empathy? There are many questions like these that require an answer. Some of us believe that AI will be greatly beneficial in the future while some say that it could have a negative or devastating effect.

The incorporation of AE in AI could be the transition of human evolution. The time is not far when a robot will go to the market for you to buy essentials and doing many more things like that. But the real challenge lies in AI systems is to imitate empathy. Scientists have said that this could happen when AI bots will interact with humans. AI systems can examine the way humans behave with them and they will respond accordingly. By this way, machine empathy can be generated in robots and they can learn more behavioral qualities.

How empathy will look like in an AI system?

Thinking about the worst scenario, if robots can imitate empathy then there might be chances that they develop the tendency of being angry or furious. This could be really dangerous and being a machine it might be difficult to tackle such a situation. But on the other hand, if we have a belief that researchers can teach empathy to AI systems then they can also give training about law & order, social & moral values, and other such good things. This could really be helpful for society and the chances of threat that people think now about AI bots could also be reduced.

How AE can make AI better?

In the medical sector, this artificial empathy is going to play an important role. Research is under process for the use of robotic empathy in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder. In the early stages of this disease, people start losing facial expressions and their voice also starts to become emotionless. During such condition caregivers might also lose empathy that’s where artificial empathy might work. This is just an example of how AE can be helpful in making AI better. 

It is also been said that emotional AI can also be used in the education sector by professors to access how well their students are grabbing the lessons. This can also help doctors to examine or identify the mental health of their patients. There are numerous possibilities, but a lot depends on how we will be going to use it. Emotional robots will also have facial recognition systems that allow them to read human facial expressions with a verbal tone. That will make them much better and reliable.

The artificial empathy can also be beneficial for elderly people and those who are suffering from dementia in nursing homes. In such cases, emotional AI robots can help in maintaining emotional bonds and could be great in easing the mental state of patients, which is still under research. 

Why is empathy such a crucial factor?

In this world where most of the things are automated, emotions still play a vital role. If someone feels sad, depressed, or alone they put their headphones on and listen to their favorite song to calm themselves down. But, imagine spending time with someone who can understand your feelings and with whom you can share whatever you want. The votes will surely be higher on the second point. The reason for this is that human beings are emotional creatures and they respond much better to their feelings when compared to intelligence.

This above-mentioned is one of the reasons why artificial empathy will be the trump card in creating better AI systems, especially robots. The time is not far when you’ll find jobs where the main work will be teaching empathy to robots. All these are considerations that could be possible, what we will experience in reality could be slightly different or we can say much better.

Ethical concerns about artificial empathy

Lack of social connection

The development of emotional robots might significantly reduce social behavior or connection. It could be a danger for developing kids that they might start loving their AI robots more rather than human beings. Just like artificial intelligence is entirely different from human intelligence, artificial empathy is also not the same as human empathy. If this technology backfired, then people would become lonelier.  

Playing with human compassion

With empathy robots, human compassion might be in danger as it could be played by human-like machines. What we mean by saying this is our feelings or emotions could become stronger for these robots than our family or friends. Yes, it is another major threat. Artificial empathy can only mimic and respond to our emotions but the warmth & feeling of natural human empathy might never be matched. 

Taking over jobs

This is also a concern when we talk about artificial intelligence. AI has grown considerably in recent years that it is capable of performing tasks with utmost precision that humans can’t match. With the introduction of empathy to AI, this concern might become stronger. Empathy will make AI more transparent and will assist in better decision-making, which is a threat to human jobs.


As the focus is on making robots that can imitate everything like humans, another big risk of destruction is also there. This might be the case that an emotional robot develops a destructive path to achieve its goal. After all, we are making human-like robots not humans and that will remain machines only.

In spite of these ethical concerns, the belief is more on the positive side. The efforts are there to make it happen for commercial use so that people and businesses could be benefited. Many experiments have been done and there is planning for many more to study the behavior of people against robots under different situations. This will give a better idea of how humans will react to such situations. Whether we will become a slave to the robots by taking their sides every time or it will be a fair game. Many such considerations have been made by researchers and scientists just to ensure the betterment of AI with the help of AE.

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