4 Little Trees (4LT) student emotion recognition

Occurred: February 2021 

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4 Little Trees is an AI programme that analyses students' emotions as they learn in order to help teachers make distance learning more engaging and personalised. 

Find Solution AI, the company behind the product, says its algorithm identifies happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and other emotions by analysing facial muscular micro-movements in real-time. 

Launched in 2017, 4 Little Trees is reputedly 85% accurate and is proving successful, with the number of schools using the system growing from 34 to 83 during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. 

However, a February 2021 CNN report on the company cited researchers and digital rights activists noting that emotion recognition technologies tend to be intrusive, can be misused, and may be biased against people with darker skins. They also struggle to identify more complex emotions such as enthusiasm or anxiety.

Furthermore, as a May 2021 Financial Times article notes, research into emotion recognition systems suggests that while they might be able to decode facial expressions much of the time, what a person is really feeling or thinking, or what they plan to do next, may be different.

Operator: True Light College
Developer: Find Solution AI
Country: Hong Kong
Sector: Education
Purpose: Identify & monitor emotions
Technology: Emotion recognition; Facial analysis; Gesture analysis; Computer vision
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Privacy; Surveillance; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: May 2022