What tricks does Pixar use to make us cry? This AI might know.

It’s not unusual for something made or written on a computer to be able to make you sad.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a somber, melancholy game about dealing with loss and defeat, for instance, and computer-generated Pixar characters — like Bing Bong in "Inside Out" and Hector in "Coco," for example — have made audiences cry for years.

Truly, 'tis like Hamlet. GIF from Disney/Pixar's "Inside Out."


But even though they were made on a computer, behind each of those emotional moments were human beings — be they musicians, directors, actors, or designers. In 2016, a computer wrote the "Sunspring" short film, but, well, it's a really interesting experiment but not the most inspiring story ever told.

In the future, though, a computer might be able to break your heart all on its own. Or at least offer its thoughts on how to do it best.

And the benefit for us? Better movies.

Researchers from MIT’s Lab for Social Machines and McKinsey’s Consumer Tech and Media Team recently taught artificial intelligence to identify emotional moments in popular movies and dissect exactly which lines of dialogue, musical cues, or visuals tugged at the viewers' heartstrings.

This, for example, is how the computer perceived the opening sequence of Pixar’s "Up." The high points represent happier moments while the troughs represent sadder ones.

The researchers taught the AI how to do this by asking volunteers to review thousands of movie sequences then write down their emotions and the triggering moments. The researchers translated this into numbers the computer could understand.

According to researchers, the long-term goal is to create intelligence that can help human filmmakers by suggesting specific shots, lines of dialogue, or musical cues as they’re making the film. Imagine something akin to Microsoft's Clippy saying, "It looks like you’re writing a touching death scene between the protagonist and their mother. Maybe don't go with a chiptune cover of 'All About That Bass' as the background music?"

Though some have reacted to the news with warnings about some pretty science-fiction-esque implications, I, for one, welcome anything that brings robots closer to feeling human emotions. After all, if we have to suffer, so should they.

And if you personally feel like having a trip down the ol' feels-trip lane, we've oh-so-helpfully provided the "Up" official trailer below. Enjoy.

Heroes

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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