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Can Computers Help Humans Communicate?

October 26th, 2008 · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

Just say this piece in the New York Times: “You May Soon Know if You’re Hogging the Discussion“. A quick excerpt:

The inventor of this technology is Alex Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has developed cellphone-like gadgets to listen to people as they chat, and computer programs that sift through these conversational cadences, studying communication signals that lie beneath the words.

If commercialized, such tools could help users better handle many subtleties of face-to-face and group interactions — or at least stop hogging the show at committee meetings.

As an MIT alum, I appreciate the aspiration to improve interpersonal communication skills. I’m a bit skeptical of such a reductionist approach, but perhaps it’s no more mechanical than what passes for active listening.

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Can Computers Help Humans Communicate? // Oct 26, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThe inventor of this technology is Alex Pentland of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has developed cellphone-like gadgets to listen to people as they chat, and computer programs that sift through these conversational … […]

  • 2 Dan Voell // Oct 26, 2008 at 9:54 pm

    I am assuming it isn’t much more mechanical then active listening. Whether it is revolutionary or not I am really excited to see commercialization. I have heard of several companies performing lie detector tests. It is nice to see someone using this power to help people. Receiving objective feedback on communication skills could be invaluable to a variety of job (and life) roles. So many jobs rely on communication skills and aside from our obvious communication misgivings we rarely receive objective feedback on subtleties that we aren’t aware of.

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