Emojis to help computers spot emotion and sarcasm

Other | Wednesday 9th August 2017 | Idrees

With the emoji movie out now, those smiley faces are getting more and more exposure. Well, it appears the movie isn’t the only use the emojis have. Apparently, scientists have used emoji icons to train computers to understand sarcasm.

Researchers have used 1.2 billion tweets containing at least one of the most popular 64 emojis to develop DeepMoji. The algorithm is able to predict which emoji is likely to be used and from this, to recognise sarcasm. This allows the algorithm to spot hate speech faster than humans.

"Because we can't use intonation in our voice or body language to contextualise what we are saying, emojis are the way we do it online," Prof Iyad Rahwan told MIT's Technology Review magazine.

Prof Iyad Rahwan and graduate student Bjarke Felbo have also created a website to invite users to redefine DeepMoji’s education by submitting and annotating their own messages. They will also plan to release the algorithm’s code for other researchers benefit.

"Using emojis as labels for training neural networks is a great idea," said Prof Kerstin Dautenhahn who studies human-machine interaction at the University of Hertfordshire.

"Applying it to tweets seems also a smart choice, since communication via tweets is much more impoverished than actual face-to-face conversation," she said, "so chances are better for the algorithms to work."

Who knew emojis will be the key to eliminating hate speech.