Breaking the Wall of AI without Empathy | Hume AI

Falling Walls Foundation
14 Dec 202110:36

TLDRDr. Alan Cowan of Hume AI discusses the challenges of developing artificial intelligence that aligns with human well-being, emphasizing the importance of empathy. His team has created extensive, unbiased datasets on human emotions and social interactions to train AI models that can accurately classify emotional behaviors. The Hume Initiative aims to establish ethical guidelines for empathic AI, with applications in various industries, including telehealth and social media. The goal is to optimize AI for well-being, ensuring a positive impact on users.


  • ๐ŸŒŸ Dr. Keltner from UC Berkeley emphasizes the importance of building technologies that enhance human emotional well-being.
  • ๐Ÿค– The work of Dr. Alan Cowan at Hume AI focuses on creating the most extensive unbiased datasets on human emotions and social interactions.
  • ๐Ÿง  The challenge in AI development is to ensure that AI solutions are not only capable but also aligned with human values and well-being.
  • ๐Ÿšซ Issues arise when AI, trained to maximize engagement, negatively impacts children's well-being through excessive social media use.
  • ๐ŸŒ Hume AI's global, large-scale models are trained using diverse, unbiased data to better understand and classify human emotions accurately.
  • ๐Ÿ” Hume AI has developed algorithms that can recognize subtle emotional expressions like disappointment, sympathy, and more.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฌ The company is also working on natural language processing (NLP) to understand text-based emotional expressions.
  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ The Hume Initiative aims to establish ethical guidelines for empathic AI, which will be enforced in license agreements.
  • ๐Ÿ›๏ธ By 2026, Hume AI aims to become the most trusted provider of empathic AI, capturing a portion of a market valued at $1.5 billion.
  • ๐Ÿ”„ The company plans to create a platform that allows secure access to their algorithms and enables personalized user experiences while ensuring data privacy.

Q & A

  • What is Dr. Keltner's area of expertise and his role at UC Berkeley?

    -Dr. Keltner is a Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and the Faculty Director of the Greater Good Science Center.

  • What kind of services has Dr. Keltner provided to companies like Apple, Google, and Pinterest?

    -Dr. Keltner has been advising these companies on how to build technologies that can cultivate human emotional well-being.

  • What is Dr. Alan Cowan's significant contribution to the understanding of human emotion?

    -Dr. Alan Cowan has conducted extensive research mapping human emotions in the face, voice, and body, and in artistic products, which is considered the most comprehensive since Charles Darwin's work.

  • What is the primary mission of the Hume AI led by Dr. Cowan?

    -Hume AI aims to create the largest unbiased datasets on human emotions and social interactions, and to develop technologies that align with human well-being.

  • What is the Hume Initiative and what are its goals?

    -The Hume Initiative is a group of thought leaders brought together to derive ethical principles for creating technologies that can foster emotional well-being.

  • What are the two main challenges in building beneficial artificial intelligence as mentioned by Dr. Cowan?

    -The first challenge is to build AI that can solve a wide range of problems, and the second is to ensure that the methods AI uses to solve these problems are aligned with human well-being.

  • How does Hume AI gather unbiased data on human emotions?

    -Hume AI conducts large-scale experiments to collect data from diverse people around the world, ensuring that the data represents a broad range of human emotional expressions without bias.

  • What types of data does Hume AI use to train its algorithms?

    -Hume AI uses facial, vocal, and dynamic movement expressions, as well as social interaction and longitudinal data, to train its algorithms.

  • How does the Hume AI platform ensure user privacy and data security?

    -The platform provides secure access to algorithms and plans to use federated learning with user permission, keeping data personal and analyzing it on-device.

  • What is the business model of Hume AI?

    -Hume AI operates on a freemium model where developers can access their tools and pay for them only after launching products that integrate their algorithms.

  • How does Hume AI plan to measure and optimize for human well-being?

    -By obtaining user permission to measure well-being at scale, Hume AI will be able to optimize AI directly for well-being and provide insights to developers on how their products affect users' emotional health.

  • Can Hume AI's algorithms adapt to individual differences in emotional expression?

    -Yes, Hume AI's algorithms are designed to account for individual differences, and the platform will allow for personalization based on individual users' emotional expressions.



๐Ÿค– Introduction to Dr. Keltner and the Greater Good Science Center

Dr. Keltner, a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center, discusses his 15-year collaboration with major tech companies like Apple, Google, and Pinterest. He explores the challenge of creating technology that promotes human emotional well-being, referencing the significant work of Dr. Alan Cowan. Dr. Cowan's extensive research on human emotion has led to the creation of the largest unbiased datasets, and as CEO of Hume AI, he leads a team that has developed algorithms for classifying human emotions and social interactions. The Hume Initiative aims to establish ethical principles for developing emotionally intelligent technologies.


๐Ÿง  Challenges in Building Empathetic AI and Hume AI's Approach

The script addresses two main challenges in developing beneficial AI: solving a wide range of problems and ensuring that AI's methods align with human well-being. It uses a humorous example to illustrate the importance of AI understanding human values. The narrative highlights the current issue of AI causing unintended consequences due to engagement-maximizing algorithms, especially in social media use among children. It contrasts this with positive AI stories where the AI demonstrates empathy. Hume AI's strategy involves training large-scale models with globally diverse, unbiased data to create accurate algorithms for classifying emotions and social interactions. The company also addresses public skepticism towards empathic AI by launching the Hume Initiative, a nonprofit focusing on AI ethics and developing guidelines for the use of such technology.


๐ŸŒ Hume AI's Business Model and Future Goals

Hume AI's business model is outlined, starting with licensing datasets and algorithms to enterprises. The company plans to develop a platform for developers to integrate empathy into their products, with a focus on user personalization and control over their emotion data. The ultimate goal is to measure well-being at scale with user consent, allowing for the optimization of AI for well-being. The potential markets for these technologies are vast, including telehealth, social networks, and digital assistants. The company envisions becoming the most trusted provider of empathic AI by 2026, with a total addressable market of $1.5 billion.

๐Ÿ’ฌ Application of Hume AI's Technology and Adapting to Individual Differences

The potential applications of Hume AI's technology in platforms like Snapchat are discussed, focusing on speech and non-verbal aspects of communication. The company ensures data privacy by keeping personal data on-device and not uploading it to the cloud. The conversation touches on the universality of human emotions and how the algorithms account for both cultural and individual differences in expression. The platform aims to provide personalization for individual users, allowing clients to link accounts for tailored emotion recognition and response.



๐Ÿ’กEmotional Well-being

Emotional well-being refers to an individual's mental health and overall state of happiness or satisfaction with life. In the context of the video, it is the ultimate goal for AI technologies being developed, aiming to improve human life by understanding and nurturing emotional health. Dr. Keltner emphasizes the importance of creating technology that aligns with human well-being, which is a central theme throughout the discussion.

๐Ÿ’กArtificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, refers to computer systems or machines that mimic human cognitive functions like learning, problem-solving, and decision-making. In the video, AI is portrayed as a powerful tool that can be used to solve a wide range of problems, but also one that requires careful development to ensure it aligns with human values and well-being. The challenge of building beneficial AI is a key topic, with the emphasis on creating AI that can understand and empathize with human emotions.

๐Ÿ’กEthical Principles

Ethical principles are moral guidelines or standards that individuals or organizations follow to ensure responsible conduct. In the video, ethical principles are crucial for developing AI technologies that respect human values and promote well-being. The Hume Initiative is highlighted as an effort to bring together experts to derive such ethical guidelines for empathic AI, ensuring that AI development is conducted with consideration for its impact on human emotions and societal norms.

๐Ÿ’กData Bias

Data bias refers to the presence of systematic errors or inaccuracies in a dataset that can lead to skewed or unfair outcomes when used for analysis or machine learning. In the context of the video, addressing data bias is critical to training AI models that accurately represent and respond to diverse human emotions. The speaker discusses the importance of gathering unbiased data from around the world to train AI systems that can generalize across different cultures and populations.

๐Ÿ’กHuman Emotion

Human emotion encompasses the various feelings and affective states that individuals experience, which can be expressed through facial expressions, vocal tones, body language, and other non-verbal cues. In the video, understanding and accurately interpreting human emotion is central to the development of empathetic AI technologies. The speaker discusses the mapping of human emotion and the creation of data sets that capture both universal and culture-specific aspects of emotional expression.

๐Ÿ’กSocial Interaction

Social interaction refers to the process by which individuals communicate and engage with one another, shaping relationships and societal structures. In the context of the video, social interaction is a key area of study for AI, as it is essential for developing algorithms that can understand and respond beneficially to users within social contexts. The speaker mentions collecting social interaction data to improve AI's ability to interact positively with users.

๐Ÿ’กDigital Assistants

Digital assistants are AI-powered software programs designed to perform tasks, provide information, or facilitate interactions for users. In the video, digital assistants are used as an example of products that can benefit from empathetic AI, as they can be trained to recognize and respond to user emotions, providing a more personalized and supportive user experience.


Algorithms are step-by-step procedures or formulas used for solving problems or accomplishing tasks, especially in computing and data processing. In the context of the video, algorithms are the core components of AI systems that need to be trained on data sets to recognize patterns, make predictions, and perform actions. The development of accurate and unbiased algorithms is crucial for creating AI that can promote human emotional well-being.


Telehealth refers to the use of digital technology to provide remote healthcare services, such as medical consultations and health-related information. In the video, telehealth is mentioned as a potential application area for empathetic AI, where AI could help in diagnosing mood disorders or other conditions by analyzing unstructured data from patient interactions with healthcare providers.


Personalization involves tailoring products, services, or experiences to meet individual preferences or needs. In the context of the video, personalization is an important aspect of AI technologies that aim to improve emotional well-being, as it allows AI systems to adapt to the unique ways in which different individuals express and experience emotions. This can lead to more effective and empathetic interactions between AI and users.

๐Ÿ’กData Privacy

Data privacy concerns the protection of personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. In the video, data privacy is a critical consideration in the development of AI technologies, particularly when dealing with sensitive emotional data. The speaker emphasizes the importance of keeping data personal and analyzing it on-device to ensure user privacy while still benefiting from AI's capabilities.


Dr. Keltner is a professor of psychology at UC Berkeley and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center.

Dr. Keltner has been working with companies like Apple, Google, and Pinterest to build technologies that promote human emotional well-being.

Dr. Alan Cowan's research provides a comprehensive mapping of human emotion in the face, voice, body, and artistic products since Charles Darwin.

As CEO of Hume AI, Dr. Cowan and his team have created the largest unbiased datasets on human emotion and social interaction.

The Hume Initiative brings together thought leaders to derive ethical principles for creating emotionally beneficial technologies.

There are two challenges in building beneficial AI: solving a wide range of problems and aligning AI methods with human well-being.

AI can cause issues when algorithms trained to maximize engagement lead to unintended consequences, such as children spending excessive time on social media.

Science fiction often portrays AI learning to achieve objectives using methods that conflict with human emotions.

Hume AI is training large-scale models using unbiased data from around the world to improve AI's understanding of human emotion.

Hume AI's algorithms can classify subtle emotional expressions like disappointment, sympathy, and tiredness.

The company is developing technology that respects user privacy by keeping personal data on-device and not uploading it to the cloud.

Hume AI's platform will provide secure access to algorithms for developers interested in integrating empathy into their products.

The Hume Initiative is working on ethical guidelines for the use of empathic AI, which will be enforced in license agreements.

Hume AI aims to be the most trusted provider of empathic AI, with a total addressable market of 1.5 billion dollars by 2026.

The company's business model focuses on using people's feelings as an output to improve well-being, rather than as an input to maximize engagement.

Hume AI's technology has potential applications in telehealth, where it can help diagnose mood disorders and dementia by analyzing unstructured data.

The platform allows for personalization of emotional expression recognition based on individual user accounts.