AI app may predict conflict between couples before it occurs, scientists say

1166632 autosave v1 2 man couple people woman
Creative Commons
Bickering isn’t abnormal, but it’s (usually) unproductive, so most people want to avoid petty fights with their partner if possible. Some day soon a smartphone app may help.

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC), have used an artificial intelligence system to analyze language patterns and physiological signs in order to detect conflict in couples. The work, which the team published in the journal IEEE Computer, demonstrates the first time such monitoring has been shown to work outside of a psychology lab.

Led by USC’s Adela Timmons, the researchers used smartphones and wearables on 34 couples in the comfort of their homes. The devices were equipped with machine learning algorithms that could pick up on patterns in speech and physiology, such as an increased heart rate and skin conductance level, two signs that previous studies have shown to be associated with conflict. The red flag language would be all too familiar to anyone who has ever argued with a significant other, including more use of words like “you,” “always,” and “never.”

During the day-long trial, a sensor on each partner’s chest measured heart rate, a wrist band measured skin conductance level (think, electrical activity), and a smartphone collected audio recordings while tracking the participants by GPS. The smartphone would ask the couples to confirm if a conflict had occurred when one was detected — which surely made things worse but, hey, it’s for science.

All things considered, the system was able to accurately detect conflict 79.3 percent of the time. With language cues alone, the accuracy rate was a less impressive 62.3 percent. However, the system’s ability to detect conflict doesn’t yet amount to predicting — and even preventing — altercations. Timmons plans to investigate that next.

“Our next steps are to predict conflict before it occurs and to develop adaptive, real-time intervention systems,” Timmons told Digital Trends. “This might involve sending warnings or alerts that conflict is likely, prompting relaxation exercises or breaks, or helping couples re-initiate positive contact or reflect about what happened after an argument occurs.”

Correction: This study comes out of the University of Southern California, not the University of California, Los Angeles, as previously stated.

Cars

Study finds motorists overestimate Autopilot’s capabilities; Tesla disagrees

Research conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) finds many motorists are confused about the semi-autonomous driving aids found in cars. They often think the systems are more capable than they truly are.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (June 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Small Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

June may be coming to an end, but the bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High-paying jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re ready to make a change, this is a great time to look for something more fulfilling…
Wearables

Looking to get into shape? Snag one of these excellent fitness trackers

Looking for your first fitness tracker, or an upgrade to the one you're already wearing? There are plenty of the wrist-worn gadgets available. Here are our picks for the best fitness trackers available right now.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX is on a hiring spree for its Starlink global internet project

After a string of delays, SpaceX's Starlink project was finally launched last month. Now an analysis of data from SpaceX's job listings shows the company is on a hiring tear, advertising for more and more positions for the project.
Emerging Tech

Ready to roll: Mars 2020 rover fitted with wheels ahead of mission next year

The Mars 2020 rover is getting ready for its trip to the red planet next year. The latest step in readying the rover is installing its wheels and suspension system, which engineers at NASA have been doing this month.
Emerging Tech

Want to work in the stars? Here are six future space jobs you could hold

Ever dreamed of leaving Earth to work in the stars? Here's a list of job titles that might sound like science fiction now, but almost certainly won’t a decade or two in the future.
Emerging Tech

You can help search for aliens with an open access release of SETI data

The Breakthrough Initiatives, a program to search for extraterrestrial intelligence, recently analyzed its first three years of radio telescope data. And all of the data collected is being made publicly available in an open data archive.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

The U.K.’s biggest (and only) asteroid mining company has designs on our skies

Is the founder and CEO of the U.K.'s Asteroid Mining Corporation going to be among the first people to strike it rich in space, or is he just chasing an ambitious but doomed mirage?
Emerging Tech

Tiny galaxy has huge black hole at its center, gives clues to galactic evolution

A Hubble image shows a tiny galaxy which could hold the clue to unraveling a longstanding question about the evolution of galaxies. Despite its small size, it hosts a feature found in much larger galaxies -- a supermassive black hole.
Emerging Tech

Dark matter galaxy crashed into the Milky Way, causing the ripples in its disk

New research suggests hundreds of million of years ago, the Milky Way collided with Antlia 2, a nearby dwarf galaxy dominated by dark matter. The collision caused ripples in the disk of gas around the Milky Way which we still observe today.
Emerging Tech

Uranus’ rings shine brightly but hold a puzzle for astronomers

New images reveal the rings around Uranus, which are almost invisible to most telescopes. But there's a strange puzzle about them -- why they don't contain any small dust-sized particles.
Emerging Tech

U.S. Navy is working on making its fleet invisible to computerized surveillance

The U.S. Navy’s ever-innovative Office of Naval Research is working on a way to turn the United States military fleet invisible. Well, to cutting-edge image-recognition systems, at least.