Remarkably, most of the time, the participants guessed correctly, including for happy hues (70 percent), sad hues (75), and angry hues (65). This all strongly suggests facial hue is a strong indicator of emotions that we quickly and involuntarily register.
They upped the ante by applying mismatching hues to other expressions too; for example, adding a “sad” hue to a happy expression. Although more difficult, the participants picked the correct emotion most of the time.
“The emotion information transmitted by color is at least partially independent from that by facial movement,” the study concludes. Based on the fact that we have little facial hair compared to our far floofier primate cousins, the study authors suggest that “recent evolutionary forces” have allowed us to transmit emotions in this unique way.
Using this new database, the team generated a basic AI that had an understanding of this emotional palette, and it’s at least as good, and sometimes better, than humanity. According to a press release, it recognized happiness 90 percent of the time, with anger (80), sadness (75), and fear (70) also being frequently detected, based on hues alone.
Once again, all this is pattern recognition, but it’s hard not to be impressed by how easily humans are defeated in this regard. In fact, this AI is so effective that the researchers have already patented and commercialized it.