Can Computers Help Humans Communicate?

October 27, 2008
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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

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.

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