Rana el Kaliouby — AI, Emotional Intelligence, and the Journey of Finding Oneself (#423)

“Embrace your emotions.”

Rana el Kaliouby

A pioneer in Emotion AI, Rana el Kaliouby, PhD (@Kaliouby), is co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, and author of the new book Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology.

A passionate advocate for humanizing technology, ethics in AI, and diversity, Rana has been recognized on Fortune magazine’s 40 Under 40 list and as one of Forbes magazine’s Top 50 Women in Tech. Rana is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a newly minted Young Presidents’ Organization member. She co-hosted the PBS series NOVA Wonders, and appears in the YouTube Originals Series The Age of A.I. hosted by Robert Downey, Jr.

Rana holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge and did her postdoctoral research at MIT.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can also watch the interview on YouTube.

This podcast is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs and 5-Bullet Friday.  More on both below. 

#423: Rana el Kaliouby — AI, Emotional Intelligence, and The Journey of Finding Oneself


This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. Whether you are looking to hire now for a critical role or thinking about needs that you may have in the future, LinkedIn Jobs can help. LinkedIn is an active community with more than 675 million members worldwide. LinkedIn screens candidates for the hard and soft skills you’re looking for and puts your job in front of candidates looking for job opportunities that match what you have to offer.

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with another inspiring entrepreneur striving to make the world a better place? Listen to my conversation with Patrick Collison in which we discuss the joys of reading, how to improve one’s decision-making process, and much more. 


Connect with Rana el Kaliouby:

Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


Note from the editor: Timestamps will be added shortly. 

  • How did the book Affective Computing by Rosalind Picard — and meeting the author — change Rana’s life?
  • How did Rana manage to live in Cairo with a husband and two kids and commute to her job in Boston?
  • Rana gives us a glimpse of her family life growing up in Egypt.
  • What prompted Rana’s decision to wear a hijab in her 20s, and why did she eventually stop?
  • How does Rana define artificial intelligence, and why is she an advocate for bringing EQ into the equation?
  • What led Rana to work with artificial intelligence on a more human level, and how can it be used to help people who are on the autism spectrum?
  • In what ways does Rana foresee this technology helping in the mental health field — particularly for people suffering from depression?
  • What other applications is Rana excited to explore with facial mapping technology?
  • How does Rana feel about the potential for this technology to be used as a lie-detector test?
  • What has Rana learned about her own emotions in the process of trying to teach computers how to understand emotions?
  • What common misconceptions do people have about emotion, and how has talking about it evolved over the past few decades?
  • What it was like for Rana and Roz to pitch to potential investors for Affectiva in the male-dominated world of Silicon Valley — with Rana’s six-month-old in tow.
  • Where did funding eventually come from, and how enthusiastic were the investors who said yes?
  • How might this technology be used for dating?
  • Rana shares her journaling tools and habits.
  • Books Rana gifts most and recommends (and one I’m enjoying at the moment).
  • What compelled Rana to write Girl Decoded, and what did she learn in the course of writing it?
  • What about Rana’s relationship with her father has gone unsaid that she’d like to convey to him?
  • What would it take for Rana to consider Girl Decoded a success?
  • Why diversity in data collection and ethics in tech are crucial.
  • What would Rana’s billboard say?
  • Parting thoughts.