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Spotify logo. Photo Illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The music-streaming company Spotify was granted a patent for technology that aims to interpret users’ speech and background noise to better curate the music it serves up.

Why it matters: Aside from being a little weird and invasive, the technology is an example of a future trend in computing: emotion recognition.

What's happening: Music Business Worldwide reported this week that Spotify had filed in February 2018 and been granted this month a patent that uses "speech recognition to determine [users'] 'emotional state, gender, age, or accent' — attributes that can then be used to recommend content."

How it works: According to the patent filing, the company is developing technology that could extract "intonation, stress, rhythm, and the likes of units of speech" that would permit the "emotional state of a speaker to be detected and categorized."

  • Combined with other data from a user's listening history and past requests, appropriate music could then be recommended or played.

What they're saying: Not surprisingly, the internet had fun with this one.

The catch: Technology companies often file patents for innovations that are never used in their products, and a company spokesperson told Pitchfork, "We don't have any news to share at this time."

What's next: Whether or not this capability ever makes it into Spotify, companies are increasingly exploring technology that purports to recognize emotional states through voice tone.

  • Amazon's new Halo fitness tracker analyzes users' vocal tone to evaluate how they're coming off to other people.
  • But there are concerns that emotion recognition could be misused — a report released this week from a U.K. human rights group identified dozens of companies in China using the technology, including some working with the police.

The bottom line: I'm a Spotify user, but the company wouldn't need to read my tone to serve up emotionally appropriate music.

  • Happy? The National. Sad? The National. A bit phlegmy? The National.

Go deeper

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).

Cuomo: "I am not going to resign"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Wednesday for acting in a way that made women feel "uncomfortable," but insisted that he has "never touched anyone inappropriately" and said he will not resign.

Driving the news: Cuomo reiterated in his first public appearance since sexual harassment allegations surfaced that he will fully cooperate with a team of independent investigators appointed by New York Attorney General Letitia James, but suggested that demands for his resignation from were simply "politics."

Facebook to lift political ad ban imposed after November election

Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook will finally allow advertisers to resume running political and social issue ads in the U.S. on Thursday, according to a company update.

The big picture: Facebook and rival Google instituted political ad bans to slow the spread of misinformation and curb confusion around the presidential election and its aftermath.