Your Phone Could Stop Arguments?

The app that could make lovers’ tiffs a thing of the past


Researchers at the University of Southern California are developing an app that will suggest a time-out if it detects couples starting an argument.

 “You never listen”; “You always have to be right”. The next time you and your partner utter such phrases, your phones may suggest a time out.

Researchers are developing an app powered by artificial intelligence that analyses a couple’s language and physiological signs to warn when they are about to have a blazing row. Sending them alerts and suggesting they take a break or try relaxation techniques such as meditation may “de-escalate” conflict and save relationships.

The team at the University of Southern California trained their machine-learning algorithm using indicators based on previous studies, which show that conflict between couples is associated with signs of physiological arousal such as a raised heart rate. They also taught it to identify the sort of language they said is characteristic of couples that argue, such as second-person pronouns (“you”) and more words conveying certainty (“always” or “never”).

In the research, published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Computer journal, 34 couples were wired up with sensors and carried smartphones to record conversations. The scientists said that their algorithm correctly identified conflict in 79 per cent of cases.

Researchers now intend to refine the technology to spot tension before a row breaks out.


Mark Bridge, Technology Correspondent

April 20 2017

The Times


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