Google Using Romance Novels to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Google Using Romance Novels to Improve Emotional Intelligence

“Walking into the room, Amber locked eyes with a tall, dark-headed stranger. She felt her breath leave her body, as if a fist had slammed into her rib cage. Quickly looking away, Amber walked to the bar and started filling her plate. Looking up, Amber found herself looking into blue eyes that she wanted to just get lost in. The stranger had also stepped up to the bar and was filling another plate with eggs and bacon.”

Well, it’s not exactly Shakespeare but Google is hoping this passage from romance novel, Jacked Up and others similar will help its artificial intelligence engine.

For the past few months, Google’s Artificial Intelligence Engine has been poring over steamy romance novels with titles like Unconditional Love, Fatal Desire, and Ignited, nearly 3,000 of them so far. The goal is to help the AI develop a more varied emotive tone in its interactions with humans.

The company’s researchers have been able to get the AI to write out full sentences that would resemble those in the typical romance novel. It might seem like an unlikely genre for the search engine to tackle, but this is seen as a step in improving Google products’ facility with the written word.

“In the Google app, the responses are very factual,” Andrew Dai, the Google software engineer who led the project along with Oriol Vinyals, told BuzzFeed News. “Hopefully with this work, and future work, it can be more conversational, or can have a more varied tone, or style, or register.”

The reason why these particular books make such good language teachers: Romance Novels follow a very predictable narrative blueprint—the names may change from book to book but the essential story formula is familiar. By reading thousands of such books, the AI can detect which sentences contain similar meanings and gain a more nuanced understanding of language.

Outside of the Google app, the technology could also be put to use for Google Inbox’s “Smart Reply” product, Dai said. Smart Reply, which suggests three responses to emails drawn from Google’s AI engine, could use the AI to read the blocks of text in an email and offer more conversational responses. The better the AI gets, the better the smart replies. Google says 10% of replies in Inbox’s mobile app use smart replies.

When asked by BuzzFeed if a human could eventually fall in love with a cognitive system schooled in the language of love, Dai said it was a possibility down the line.

“It could happen eventually. There’s an ancient Greek story about a guy who builds a statue of the most beautiful woman. The statue is more beautiful than any other woman, and he falls in love with the statue,” he said. “If you can fall in love with a statue, I don’t see why you couldn’t fall in love with a neural network trained on romance novels.”

That sequel is to be continued…