Affective Computing relates to the design of computers and technology to recognize, interpret, and respond to human emotions.
This area of research is important as it seeks to allow AI to create more emotionally intelligent connections with the humans they engage with.
Robots may not, as yet, have their own emotions but for us humans the relationships we have with our machines always contain an emotional component – sometimes a very significant one.
We see people talking lovingly to their cars, affectionately stroking the sides of their boats, speaking encouragingly to their laptops, or expressing delight when their machine delivers a welcome response. Maybe someone even closer to home has shouted in frustration at their ‘stupid machine’ when it has failed to perform.
Meeting the Human Need
Humans have an innate need for connection and cooperation and, because of this, have always sought to anthropomorphise the objects and animals around them. We often give them names and may, quite naturally it seems, assign them a gender. Our interaction with any significant entity can easily become a ‘relationship.’
This dynamic has been amplified all the more over the past decade or two as machines have been given the ability to converse with us using natural language.
Humans thrive when they perceive that their personal feelings are evidently being accounted for in any interaction.
In our friendships we tend to gravitate towards those people who are on our wavelength; those who share our values and perspectives.
Our relationships with talking machines are no different, meaning that we will find ourselves getting on much better with machines that are able to adopt language patterns that reflect our values.
Vanilla responses, those programmed in the factory and delivered to every user regardless of their emotional constitution, are simply not enough to create meaningful engagement. Such interactions will never succeed in getting the best out of the humans involved in these conversations.
The Mechanics of Emotion
Acknowledging that machines do not have emotions, how can we build AI that is able to create a sense of emotional connection?
In order for AI to create a sense of emotional connection with a human being, it must be able to recognize and understand specific signals (data input) that relate to human emotion.
But what kind of inputs would be required to inform our AI of our individual ways of looking at the world? This, of course, would be a prerequisite to the machines adopting the language patterns required to create a positive emotional experience.
AI is now advanced enough to perceive, and then mimic, human facial expressions, it can use natural language processing to interpret the emotional content of text or speech and it interpret gestures and bodily movements - which provide important and meaningful signals that the human is often unaware that they are communicating.
Emotions themselves are complex, of course, and our machines need not only the ability to accurately perceive the emotional state of the individual they're talking to, they must also have the ability to respond in an appropriate and engaging way; using expressions that convey (simulate) appropriate emotions.
Whatever language processing goes on inside the AI, the machine is entirely dependant on accurate and usable data inputs. Beyond natural language processing, huge efforts are being made to develop sensors that detect and interpret biometrics of many kinds but there is a method that can simplify things enormously; a method that does not even require advanced sensory input to provide extremely useful data.
What if we were able to provide our AI machines with a map of the individual’s core emotional make-up?
What if we could capture the data necessary to diagnose the individual’s dominant motivations and decision-driving values?
…and do all this with just 90 seconds of input from the human involved.
The AI could then store this data and use it to select the most affective language for that individual; phrases that resonate and ‘get on the wavelength’ of the individual - building rapport, encouraging and motivate them in action.
AI that can emotionally connect with humans in this way is significantly more engaging, more helpful and more successful than AI that simply spouts dry instruction or information with no consideration of the individuals’ emotional constitution.
Team Me provides the data input model, the classification types, and the language sets that make all this possible. If you are involved in affective computing and are committed to driving things forward, I’d love to hear from you.
Your Trinity of Purpose
I believe it's vital for every one of us to get absolutely clear about our Trinity of Purpose.
A Trinity of Purpose is of course made up of three parts. It is your vision, your mission and your values. Let me read a little from Kevin Murray's extraordinary book The Language of Leaders.
Page 209 says the second most often raised point cited by 20% of leaders is the importance of effectively communicating your vision, your values and your mission. It goes on to say this vision of success has to be united with a powerful mission and a liberating set of values all of which create a framework for action and decision making throughout the organisation.
Now your values actually come first because they define what it is you will stand for, and what it is you will not stand for. These are the crucial factors that give you a sense of Meaning in all that you do.
Next, there's your vision. And your vision is quite simply the picture that you have of your furthest horizon. How far can you see.
And finally, there's your mission. Now the mission is the course that you are on the steps that you're taking in order to move towards that destination that you have in mind.
So imagine yourself as a tightrope walker, the vision is the other side is that anchor point that you have attached your tightrope to, that's the place you're heading to. That is the destination that you have in your head.
The values are actually the things that give you balance that enable you to walk the straight path that you need to walk. And the mission is the path itself the tightrope, which of course means nothing unless you are taking the steps necessary to move towards your vision.
These are the three elements that we must define very clearly. If we're to give our team our work, our whole organisation No brand, a real sense of identity. What is true for organisations is also true for us.
As individuals, we each individually need our own sense of values to guide us our own mission steps that we need to take towards our vision, our own personal picture of the furthest horizon that we can see. And if you've ever been out Hill walking, you will know that once you've reached your furthest horizon, you will see another horizon.
That's exactly how it's supposed to be.
The reason that I say these things are a matter of identity is because actually, vision mission and values are actually inside of us. They are not points of reference that we can identify out there somewhere.
They're very much a part of what makes us tick, and who we see ourselves to be in the world. And when a number of individuals come together and creates together a sense of a corporate identity, there's no stopping them.
That trinity of purpose, a vision of mission and a value. To create a cohesive power that enables them to go about their daily tasks and to bring about their purpose upon this planet. If that identity resonates with a large number of people, we will create a movement.
So how well define is your sense of purpose - as an individual as an influencer and a leader?
Are you clear about what is driving you in this present time? How much time have you spent getting the clarity that you need and communicating with clarity what it is you truly believe in?
What it is that makes you your team, your whole organisation what it is.
Commit to taking steps today to make this a deeper, clearer reality for you and your people.
Resilience has much less to do with Mental Toughness and much more to do with Grounding.
Back in 1995 Dr. Edith H Grotberg was involved in something called the International Resilience Project. But it's interesting because her study started out as a study of pathology. She was looking at kids that had gone through some really difficult times, and she expected to see so damage, some challenges in terms of the way that they socialised or went about life or tackled goals, because of the really difficult circumstances, with which they grew up.
The interesting thing was that she began to notice, and turn her focus towards, those kids that actually seems to thrive. Despite their circumstances, as she began to steer her studies, towards this issue of resilience.
For many years I've introduced my clients to what I call the 'Undeniable Affirmation'. Affirmations seem to be very popular these days, but we need to be very careful with affirmations. Because if we are stating things that are aspirational, that can be encouraging and inspiring, but it's possible that we start to say some things to ourselves things that are simply not true; things that are simply unbelievable. We need to be honest with ourselves, we need to be aware that if we are stating some kind of aspirational affirmation that there isn't actually a little voice inside of us say, "Matey, you are lying to yourself!"
Because if that is going on, it will undermine everything that you're seeking to positively declare. So, the most important affirmation, I seek to steer my own clients towards, is this Undeniable Affirmation.
And it goes like this.
"I am what I am. I have what I have. and I couldn't do what I can do."
So, whilst mental toughness is a really applaudible trait to have in your life. Actually, the grounding that these three statements provides you is a more important foundation for all that you think, say and do.
"I am what I am. I have what I have and I can do what I can do."
It brings you back to who you really are. It brings you back to the moment, it brings you back to the core of what makes you, you in the reality of the situation you find yourself in like from that foundation, you can rebuild your life, you can tackle your goals you can press through the pain and deal with the challenges that are in front of you. Without it, you're very likely to find yourself overwhelmed by certain challenges that will come your way in life.
Now I've used that as a technique for years myself and for my own clients, but this was the interesting thing: I've only just come across, Edith H Grotberg's study on resilience, and in that study, she makes it very plain, that there are three areas of focus for resilient characters: they tend to focus on who they really are, what they really have and what they really can do.
Identity, ownership and opportunity.
And in her research she defines a series of example questions for each of those areas that are extraordinarily helpful and lay the foundations that are necessary in order for any one of us to build that resilience from the inside out.
So, as you face your own challenges today, this week, this month, this year.
Take a moment to focus upon the Undeniable Affirmation. "I am what I am. I have, what I have. I can do what I can do." I just feel that for yourself, just have grounding that is and how empowering it is for you. In that moment.
So this is Pad -giving you a boost to your own personal and professional resilience.
Remote Teams Dynamics
Lessons from Nature - Where the River Meets the Sea
So much of what we want to understand about a thriving business can be found mirrored in nature.
Age-old principles we find at work in the natural order of things; especially when it comes to what sustains life or how the elements inter-operate, can provide powerful insight into how vital systems work best.
Many organisations have been forced to adapt to a distributed team structure due to COVID-19 restrictions, and this has created an unusual and uncertain landscape that is both unfamiliar and hard to navigate.
To help understand some important dynamics that this shift has caused, we will discover that the mouth of a large river, the point where it approaches the open sea, can provide us with a wonderful mirror in the natural world.
Rivers are amazing subjects that can teach us so much in terms of life-sustaining systems and in the following lesson, we'll see how key factors effecting two natural ecosystems can be seen to reflect issues that we may now be facing.
In what follows, the river simply represents the way your team operates.
Treating the sea as the destination, a pool of clients or the open market to whom you must deliver, I'm going to compare and contrast two very different scenarios; that of an ESTUARY and that of a DELTA.
It might be worth noting that deltas and estuaries only occur for large, mature rivers; small, young rivers will have little impact on the shape of the land or the waters of the sea.
LESSONS FROM THE ESTUARY
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.