AI is learning how to make you cry at the movies

Every time I think AI can’t surprise me anymore, new research arrives to prove me wrong. Yesterday, scientists at the MIT Media Lab announced that they’ve taught a machine how to manipulate our emotions–a technology that they believe can help filmmakers create more engrossing movies and TV.

In a blog post published in collaboration with strategic consulting firm McKinsey & Company, the researchers said that they used a deep neural network to watch thousands of small slices of video—movies, TV, and short online features. For each slice, the neural network guessed which were the different elements that made a moment emotionally special, constructing an emotional arc. To test their accuracy, the team got human volunteers to watch the same clips, tagging their reaction and labeling which elements—from the music to the dialogue to the type of imagery shown on screen–had a stronger weight in their emotional response. This information helped them fine-tune the resulting model until it got really accurate at guessing what triggers human emotions.

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