Microsoft shops crowd sentiment analysis engine to Republic and Democratic National Conventions

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Microsoft is currently placing a strong emphasis on monetizing the technology developed by Microsoft Research.

Now the Intercept reports the Microsoft has been seen showing off their Realtime Crowd technology at the 2016 Republic and Democratic National Conventions as a guest of the Politico publication, suggesting politicians can use the technology to read the sentiments of crowds and presumably better tune their message.

We have seen elements of the technology in various apps from Microsoft Research, including the one which guessed your age and which eventually went viral.

Microsoft’s emotional analysis API can detect anger, contempt, fear, disgust, happiness, neutral, sadness or surprise, and provide an aggregate result in real-time (above screen shot). It also keeps track of individuals over an extended period, allowing political scientists of assess changes over time with individual users.

Besides making it even easier for politicians to manipulate us, some commentators have expressed concern that the technology could be misused to identify dissenters and potential protestors by their facial expressions.

Microsoft spokeswoman Kathryn Stack, a managing director with the public affairs firm Burson-Marsteller did not think this was a real issue, saying:

“I think that would be a question for a futurist, not a technologist.”

Do our readers feel reading and tracking people’s emotions are somewhat creepy, or is Microsoft simply using public information which is already accessible to anyone who is paying close enough attention? Let us know below.

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