Today’s interview is with Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of Affectiva, an emotion measurement technology company that grew out of MIT’s Media Lab. Affectiva has developed software to recognize human emotions based on facial cues or physiological responses. She is also author of a new book: Girl Decoded: My Quest to Make Technology Emotionally Intelligent – and Change the Way We Interact Forever. Rana joins me today to talk about the book, her career and research into putting empathy into AI, Emotive AI and her work at Affectiva.
This interview follows on from my recent interview – Purpose is not a luxury and matters more than ever in a crisis – Interview with Professor Alex Edmans of London Business School – and is number 351 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.
Here’s the highlights of my chat with Rana:
Rana’s life work is about humanizing technology before it dehumanizes us. She is an Egyptian-American scientist, entrepreneur, author and AI thought leader on a mission to bring emotional intelligence to our digital world. She is the co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab spinoff credited with creating the category of artificial emotional intelligence, or Emotion AI. Her memoir, Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology (published by Penguin Random House), follows her personal journey, growing up in the Middle East and moving to the United States to become an entrepreneur, juxtaposed against her work building Emotion AI.
Rana has raised $50M+ in capital from top-tier investors and non-dilutive funding to bring Affectiva’s Emotion AI, built on deep learning, computer vision, speech science and massive amounts of real-world data, to 90+ countries and to several industries including the automotive industry and media analytics. She has a track record of translating technology innovations into products that address the needs of massive international markets and spearhead the application of Emotion AI to mental health, autism, conversational interfaces, robotics and education.
She is extremely passionate about the ethical development and deployment of AI, including advocating for standards to ensure data privacy and mitigate data and algorithmic bias. To help establish best practices and guidelines for AI ethics, Rana is part of industry organizations like the Partnership on AI and the World Economic Forum’s Council of Young Global Leaders.
As one of few women leading an AI company, she cares deeply about her role as an advocate for diversity and inclusion in tech and leadership. To help catalyze change and improve equity industry-wide, she is a member of the Boston Steering Committee for All Raise and a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). Rana is also a limited partner of the MIT Media Lab E14 Fund, a Board Member of SIMPEDs at Boston Children’s Hospital, and a Board of Trustees member at the American University in Cairo, the leading liberal arts university in the Middle East.
Rana believes in the power of human connection.