Updated: March 25, 2020 5:35:25 pm
How does a pandemic impact human sentiments? The Panic Index created by Cognovi Labs, a US-based AI and predictive behavioral analytics company, has shown that in US people’s fears around employment shot up from 24 to 64 as soon as coronavirus was declared a pandemic and the United States restricted travel from Europe.
The Cognovi “Panic Index” measures people’s emotional response towards Covid-19 in realtime and it’s impact on stock markets, dining, shopping, travel and other economic activities. The Dayton, Ohio startup takes advantage of Twitris, a Wright State University-developed machine learning tool, to take a sample of social media happenings about Covid 19 and use a combination of human, machine learning and understanding of behavioral psychology to interpret the conversation and then extract sentiments about what they are searching for in real-time.
“This [technology] extracts emotions from free-flowing conversations…maybe any social media chatter if people are posting on blogs or forums or Twitter and it extracts the emotions from that ideally short-form text. It’s probably the best tool and has the highest capability of extracting emotions of any tool in the world that we’ve seen,” Colin Butler, Global Revenue Officer, Cognovi Labs, told Indianexpress.com in a telephonic interview.
The tool fetches a mix of emotional and non-emotional words based on searches related to the event. For example, in India, Cognovi Labs is relying on the data available on Twitter. These searches can be different from country to country and state to state. As the data updates in real-time, the Cognovi Panic Index shows a different picture of that event, based on people’s emotional sentiments.
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“The baseline of the technology is that extracts the emotion and once you have the emotions, we use a proprietary appraisal theory to understand how those emotions combine to predict future action,” he continues.
The decision to create the Cognovi “Panic Index” was taken a few days ago. “The index, we created, measures the public’s emotional state over the coronavirus. Through a dashboard, we can see how the emotionality heats up in different geographical areas. And since people make decisions based on emotions, as the fear heats up, you really understand what the population’s predilection is towards a certain behavior or maybe how they actually feel about a certain topic,” he explains.
Butler believes that the vast majority of decisions that humans make are based on the subconscious mind and not the logical mind. “If you are able to extract emotions somehow, you get a predictive window into behavior of people,” he said. Cognovi Labs has in the past successfully predicted the Brexit referendum hours before the polls closed as well as the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
The core to the machine learning tool, which Cognovi Labs uses to extract emotions from social media chatter and quantifies human behavior to predict the outcome of events, was developed by co-founder Dr Amit Sheth at the Kno.e.sis Center at Wright State University.
Cognovi Labs’ AI technology, which took eight years to develop, was funded by the US Air Force, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. According to Butler, Cognovi Labs has a perpetual and exclusive license to use the technology.
Investors of Cognovi Labs include Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of Greater New York, the Ikove Start-up Nursery Fund out of Columbus, and Bossa Nova Capital in Brazil, among others.
Butler, who was previously head of business development at a hedge fund and an investment banker with over 20 years experience on Wall Street, says Cognovi Labs’ Emotion AI technology can help governments, corporations, advertisers, marketers and retailers to tweak their future strategies based on people’s emotions at the time of a pandemic like Covid-19 or any political event.
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