February 26, 2015

Computers as negotiators?

If you own a company and hope to sell it in the distant future, consider this: you might be sitting opposite a computer at the negotiation table, instead of another human being.

According to a report by Jan Hoffman published in NY Times, in recent years scientists have striven for a complex goal: programming computers to read human facial expressions.

In a new study with researchers of various US universities, humans and a computer were shown videos of people in real pain, alongside footage of others pretending to be in pain. The computer differentiated real suffering from fake suffering with greater accuracy than the humans, by tracking subtle muscle movement patterns in the subjects’ faces.

Today, as you negotiate for the sale of the shares of your company, usually your prospective buyers – those on the other side of the deal table – will be professional managers with a great deal of commercial experience. They are human beings, not machines. Depending on your abilities and experience, you might hide your emotions behind your poker face, and might be able to read their reactions.

If you feel that you do not have the “muscles” to beat the guys you are negotiating with, then my advice would be to employ professional negotiators to assist you during the process.

But what if a computer occupies the other side of the table? I’m pretty sure I won’t be around to see it, thankfully! ☺

The article by Mr. Hoffman: Reading Pain in a Human Face

The oldie of the week: A-Ha – Take On Me (1985)

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