Heartbeat AI’s Lana Novikova says humans have to be at the center of AI

Lana Novikova founder of Heartbeat Au speaks at TECHTO
Lana Novikova founder of Heartbeat Au speaks at TECHTO

Monthly meetup TechTO is an outlet for founders and startups to engage in open conversations about their entrepreneurial journey. At its latest event, Lana Novikova, founder of Heartbeat AI, shared tips from her story.

“AI is a machine that can make the perfect chess move even when your room is on fire.”
– Lana Novikova

Heartbeat AI is a SaaS platform that looks at the wide range of emotion in text, including open-ended survey responses, product reviews, customer feedback, employee surveys, and social media. The platform takes text input and turns it into ten primary and a hundred secondary emotion categories. Through this emotion analytics platform Novikova and her team hope to provide an analysis of the emotional drivers of behaviour.

“Once you understand what your customers, consumers, employees feel you can walk in their shoes,” she says in the video below. “Today, I want to talk about the intersection between humanity and technology, particularly, the role that artificial intelligence is going to soon play in our lives and definitely will play huge roles in our children. We need to put humans at the centre of AI.”

According to Novikova, Heartbeat is providing solutions to a small puzzle amidst a greater vision that teaches machines the language of emotions to build empathy.

“There is this old joke from the 70s that AI is a machine that can make the perfect chess move even when your room is on fire,” she says. “It’s an old joke, but it’s kind of sad that it still holds true. We are still creating AI that is great at playing games and apps and having fun, while the planet needs really serious solutions to our problems.”

Novikova discusses Stanford AI professor and Google chief scientist Fei-Fei Li’s vision for the next wave of artificial intelligence research and related it to the technology being developed at Hearbeat AI. She quoted Li’s approach, saying, “we’ve got to bring back the contextual understanding. We have got to bring back knowledge abstraction and reasoning. These are all the most important steps.”

When asked about the security risks of this technology Novikova emphasized the importance of building these tools so they don’t control people, but rather offer “a psychotherapist in their pocket.” Novikova believes that creating this emotional technology will require a lot of AI building and testing, but in the end it is empathy that will get the job done.

“Heartbeat is about understanding emotions from text and understanding a wide range of emotions from how you express it verbally in language. There are other tools that understand emotions from facial expressions, tools that understand emotions through biometrics, so I think the combination of those tools will create that future AI that will help us 24/7,” she says.

See Lana’s full story in the video below:

Photo courtesy TechTO. 


Aeman Ansari

Aeman Ansari is a freelance writer who has been published in many Toronto-based publications, including Hazlitt and Torontoist. When she’s not re-watching Hitchcock movies, she’s working on her collection of short fiction inspired by stories from her grandmother, one of the few women in India to receive post-secondary education in English literature at the time.

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