Julian Jewel Jeyaraj is an entrepreneur and tech innovator. He has been creating initiatives in the new generation concepts blockchain, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics since 2010. His latest innovation, the JJAIBOT has attracted over a million followers on popular social network Instagram and the content he’s created has been viewed several million times across different platforms.

What do you think when someone asks you about empathy? Do you struggle to find its meaning or does it come to you naturally? In the age of artificial intelligence, do our AI systems need empathy? If so, what are some use cases where empathy can be most helpful in AI Systems? It was an honour to interview Julian Jeyaray about these deep questions on AI.

Humans are social creatures. We thrive on empathy notes Julian. When we read a book out loud to our children, they can hear the emotions we imbue into the passages. With each tone and inflection, our children will remember the love we inject into their favorite books. They will remember their bedtime reading as a special moment. They will have fond memories of the books that we read to them. 

We like to think that we are logical creatures. In truth, our emotions govern a large part of our intelligence. In a 2012 study, by Aron K. Barbey, et. al, neuroscientists confirmed that emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence share many neural systems for integrating cognitive, social, and affective processes. This study confirms what psychologists have suspected for decades: that there are interdependencies between emotional intelligence and general intelligence. 

Empathy is a part of emotional intelligence. Empathy means the ability to understand or feel what another person is experiencing within their frame of reference. In the general scope of emotional intelligence, empathy is in self-awareness, social awareness, self-actualization, and transcendence. 

Description: The emotional intelligence pyramid (9-layer model).

According to this emotional intelligence pyramid, empathy is in all the layers of the upper pyramid above emotion recognition. It is our empathy that helps us work toward emotional unity as we proceed toward self-actualization notes Julian.

This emotional intelligence pyramid addresses the missing Apex of Maslow’s Hierarchy, after the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of self-actualization, there needs to be self-transcendence and emotional unity.

The Process of Empathy

When we talk about empathy, we often talk about empathy in terms of how we feel, how we react, and how we internalize the emotional stimuli that we receive. There are three parts of empathy that describe empathy to us. 

  • Cognitive empathy – understanding another person’s frame of reference. 
  • Affective empathy – the capacity to respond with appropriate emotion.
  • Somatic empathy – physical reaction associated with the empathy process. 

When we feel someone’s love for us, we first use our cognitive empathy to feel the love they have for us. Then, we use our affective empathy to respond with the love that we feel for them. Finally, the love that we feel may lead to a physical reaction such as our heart beat faster. This is somatic empathy.

Empathy vs. Artificial Empathy

In artificial intelligent systems, if we want to move toward artificial general intelligence, empathy will be essential. Just like human intelligence is different from artificial intelligence, artificial empathy is different from human empathy. 

Minter Dial, in his book, Heartificial Empathy describes artificial empathy as the coding of empathy into machines. He describes artificial empathy or heartificial empathy as personal, situational and based on the appropriate intentions. 

Because empathy can be learned, artificial Intelligence can surely be equipped with artificial empathy in the years to come. 

However, businesses have to decide the appropriate use cases of empathy in order to develop effective AI systems that add value to the businesses. 

In identifying appropriate use cases of artificial empathy, organizations can then implement more empathy into their businesses and the services that they provide for their customers.