Ming-Hui Huang is Distinguished Professor, Department of Information Management, College of Management, National Taiwan University, fellow of European Marketing Academy (EMAC), International Research Fellow of the Centre for Corporate Reputation, University of Oxford, UK, and Distinguished Research Fellow of the Center for Excellence in Service, University of Maryland, USA. She is also the incoming Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Service Research (JSR).

Q: What is the Feeling Economy?

The Feeling Economy is an economy in which Feeling Intelligence (e.g., empathy, emotional intelligence, interpersonal skills) is more important for human workers than Thinking Intelligence (e.g., analysis, planning, calculation, etc.). 

Q: What characterizes the Feeling Economy?

The Feeling Economy is characterized by AI doing the thinking tasks and humans doing the feeling tasks. This may upend the current social order. For example, groups that currently dominate in the Thinking Economy (e.g., computer geeks, men) may find that their advantage declines in the Feeling Economy. Some traditionally less-advantaged people (e.g., artists, women) may find that they are no longer disadvantaged in the Feeling Economy.

Q: How will job roles be affected in the Feeling Economy?

To retain comparative advantage, humans need to pursue one of  three possible skill strategies: 1) unskilled manufacturing workers re-skill to become unskilled service workers; 2) unskilled feeling workers upskill to become skilled feeling workers; 3) skilled thinking workers cross-skill to become skilled feeling workers.

Q: How will female entrepreneurs be impacted?

Women entrepreneurs will be in a better competitive position if they do not pretend to be thinking men. Feeling intelligence involves the ability to be aware of emotions, the ability to apply the emotions to tasks, and the ability to manage emotions. Women entrepreneurs typically have these capabilities by nature, rather than by training. 

Q: What is necessary to build AI that has feeling intelligence?

“Feeling AI” is AI that has the capabilities to 1) recognize, 2) simulate, and 3) react appropriately to emotions. The current feeling AI is more mature for recognizing emotions than for simulating and responding to emotions appropriately. We are not certain about what is the best and most feasible approach for AI to have EQ, but we are more certain that even though AI cannot “experience” emotions in the human way, there is no limitation for AI to experience emotions in machine ways. 

Q: Can AI be creative?

It depends on the role of AI in creativity. When AI is seen as being capable of being creative on its own (e.g., composing music), the answer is yes, but not yet. To be creative requires both thinking and feeling intelligences—generating something new that people like. However, if AI is used as a tool for creativity, the answer is yes, already. 

Q: What are humans’ comparative advantages over AI?

The answer is be intuitive, not analytical. AI is assuming an increasing percentage of analytical thinking tasks, but humans may be able to hold off AI (for a while) with respect to intuitive thinking tasks. The best way for humans to hold off AI is by being more Feeling Intelligent—playing to the most human of strengths.