Rana el Kaliouby, co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, believes technology has enormous potential to improve people’s lives, but she wants to make sure it doesn’t dehumanize us in the process. She’s a pioneer in the field of Emotion AI, and she’s working to create technology that can detect human emotion and cognitive states. Rana holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and a Post Doctorate from MIT. Through her research and her work at Affectiva, she developed a product that helps people with autism learn to read other people’s emotions and facial expressions, and she’s working to find new ways to help people with mental illness as well. Rana has also given a TedTalk, hosted a PBS Nova series on artificial intelligence, and authored the book Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology. 

Rana has become a highly respected figure in the tech world, due to both her groundbreaking research and her advocacy for greater diversity in the industry. She’s been listed on Fortune’s 40 Under 40 and Forbes’ Top 50 Women in Tech. She’s also been honored as World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. 

In This Episode:
Rana shares her story of growing up in the Middle East and making the uncommon decision to move to England and pursue a career in technology. 


rana el kaliouby

Along with sharing some amazing stories of ways her technology is improving people’s lives, she opens up about some of the struggles she’s faced on her journey, including divorce, imposter syndrome and raising money as a female founder.

Episode Highlights:
- Rana’s experience of growing up around technology in the Middle East and moving past cultural norms to pursue her career 
- The importance of overcoming imposter syndrome to realize you have something important to say
- What it’s like to raise money as a female founder
- How to cultivate diversity of background and perspective in a company
- Rana’s story of adapting her technology to help people with autism, and her larger vision for a world where technology can use empathy

her story of success

"we talk about pursuing your dreams, but we don’t often talk about outgrowing your dreams and having new dreams."
- Rana el kaliouby

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"one of the most memorable interviews i've ever had."

- Sherry Deutschmann, Founder & CEO of Braintrust