Above: Mei’s machine learning algorithms suss out personality from text messaging conversations. All it takes is one misinterpreted text to land you in a heap of trouble with a friend, significant other, or colleague.

Even serial texters aren’t immune — studies show that most recipients fail to tell the difference between sarcasm and seriousness about 44 percent of the time. That’s why Es Lee, a Harvard graduate with a degree in computer science, founded Mei, a mobile messaging startup that leverages machine learning to suss out the subtext of conversations.

“One of the difficulties of maintaining relationships through text is that it’s [possible] to come across as crass or rude — even when that was never the intention,” Lee told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “Emotion is lost in text messages.

It’s a different form of body language that people aren’t quite attuned to detecting yet.” Mei, which launched in beta earlier this year, is built on the back of “millions” of messages sourced from the app’s more than 100,000 users, data from two universities, and the dev team’s own exchanges. Lee claims it’s one of the largest datasets of its kind.

Using natural language processing and sophisticated algorithms that take into account response time, terseness, word choice, and other factors, Mei builds a psychological profile of your texting partners. It’s more nuanced than you might expect; Lee said that it’s able to determine the gender and age of a person from nothing more than the types of emoji they use. Read more from venturebeat.com…

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