Rana el Kaliouby: How Is Technology Affecting Our Emotional Intelligence?
In conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of Affectiva and author of Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology, discusses the challenges of exercising and expressing our emotions and tapping into other people’s emotional and mental states when we are all communicating online.
From the episode:
Rana el Kaliouby: I do value emotions. The way I was brought up, I did not embrace my emotions, not to myself and not to others. I guess I had wandered any negative emotions and just focused on on being pragmatic. Now, you know, having spent the last three years thinking about all of this and articulating it for the book, I think that was totally wrong. I think there is power in embracing one’s emotions. I think this kind of vulnerability and authenticity, both in your professional and your personal life, creates a lot of trust and creates a lot of human connection.
I’m very vocal that my leadership style is that I lead with empathy first. I’m very vocal and vulnerable about my personal story. I’ve had a lot of people reach out and say, That’s happened to me. This resonated with me. People I would have never expected has opened up to me, and it creates a special connection. So I’ve almost come full circle on this.
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Rana el Kaliouby is a pioneer in artificial emotional intelligence (Emotion AI), as well as the cofounder and CEO of Affectiva, the acclaimed AI startup spun off from the MIT Media Lab. She grew up in Kuwait and in Cairo, Egypt, among a family of technologists and educators. After earning an undergraduate and a master’s degree in computer science at the American University in Cairo, she attended Cambridge University, where she earned her PhD. Afterward, she joined the MIT Media Lab as a research scientist, where she spearheaded the applications of emotion recognition technology in a variety of fields, including mental health and autism research. She left MIT to cofound Affectiva, the company credited with defining the field of Emotion AI. Affectiva’s technology is used by more than a quarter of the companies in the Fortune Global 500. An acclaimed TED speaker, el Kaliouby was named by Forbes to their list of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech, and Fortune included her in their list of 40 Under 40. In 2018 she was the cohost of a PBS Nova series on AI.