Call centres get virtual empathy software

Researchers have developed a computer system out there that can figure out the details of your personality to ten decimal places and tell what state of mind you are in.

The system is being peddled by Mattersight and is a data analysis system that listens to the way you respond on the telephone.

According to This Week,  the software listens to you in the background, and breaks down hundreds of micro-features of your voice: Volume, tone, pauses, speed of response, and so on. It uses mathematical algorithms to interpret these features, compare them to data in its databases, and come up with a personality profile for you.

It then relays the details to a customer services person within the first few seconds you are on the phone, or working your way through that voice-activated menu system.

Of course, based on that data, the software is going to look at a basic subset of, hacked off, angry, tired frustrated, and wanting to kill someone.

However, apparently it also depends on a database of files it has of you in previous conversations so it should even out a bit. Then it compares your data with personality profiles of the call centre employees that it has on file, and automatically connects you with the most compatible service agent.

This is a little scary as it means that you will be talking to someone that a computer thinks you are most likely to get along with. I for one would want a representative that tells me what I want to know and says yes a lot.

This of course raises privacy issues. How much of a personality is private, and how much can this data be shared? I might be OK with giving my personality away in one situation but prefer to use a different aspect of it in another.

Can the software tell if you are lying when you say that the cheque is in the post, can it tell if you are a journalist or cop about to expose them?