• Pioneer

Dr. Rana el Kaliouby

AI Thought Leader. Machine Learning Scientist. Co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, an MIT spin-off. Disrupting industries and humanizing technology with Emotion AI.


Rana el Kaliouby, PhD, is co-founder and CEO of Affectiva, the pioneer in artificial emotional intelligence—Emotion AI. The next frontier of Artificial Intelligence, Emotion AI is projected to become a multi-billion dollar industry. Rana led the innovation of the company’s award winning technology, which uses deep learning and massive amounts of data to analyze complex and nuanced emotions and cognitive states from face and voice. And, she raised over $50 million in venture capital for Affectiva.

Prior to founding Affectiva, Rana was a research scientist at MIT Media Lab where she spearheaded the applications of emotion recognition technology in a variety of fields, including mental health and autism research.

Rana holds a BSc and MSc in Computer Science from the American University in Cairo, a PhD from the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge and a Post Doctorate at MIT.

Rana is one of few women leading a disruptive AI company. A Muslim-American and passionate advocate, she frequently speaks in press and on stage, about innovation, women in technology, ethics in AI and leadership. Forbes recently included Rana in their list of America’s Top 50 Women In Tech, and Fortune Magazine included her in their 40 under 40, 2018 edition. She is also a Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum. 

Dr. Kaliouby is also author of the forthcoming book WHEN COMPUTERS SMILE: A Scientist's Journey to Bring Emotional Intelligence to Our Technology (Currency), which is available for preorder now.


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About Affectiva

Rana el Kaliouby is the CEO of Affectiva, which she co-founded with Professor Rosalind Picard, ScD, after spinning it out of the MIT Media Lab. Affectiva is the leading provider of AI software that detects complex and nuanced human emotions and cognitive states from face and voice. Its patented Emotion AI technology uses machine learning, deep learning, computer vision and speech science.

Affectiva has built the world’s largest emotion data repository of 6.7 million faces and 4 billion frames analyzed from 87 countries. Used by 1/4 of the Fortune Global 500 to test consumer engagement with ads, videos and TV programming, Affectiva is now working with leading OEMs, Tier 1s and technology providers on next generation multi-modal driver state monitoring and in-cabin mood sensing.

Go to Affectiva


Rana frequently speaks at leading technology and innovation events.

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Other Events Rana has Spoken at:

Want Rana to speak at your next event? She is currently available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses and panel discussions, as well as advisory/consulting services through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®. Book Rana for an event

Media Coverage

Rana is frequently covered in press on topics of AI and ethics.


“I just have this deep conviction that we’re building a new paradigm of how we communicate with computers. That’s been the driving factor of my work. We are changing how humans connect with one another."


“So one reason I think we’re now dehumanizing each other is because we communicate primarily through digital. A lot of our communication has now become digital, and it does not mimic the natural way we have evolved to communicate with each other, so it’s almost like we have this muscle, these social-emotional skills, and they’re atrophying, right? You look at young kids — you know how there’s all these articles about kids being in an accident and instead of jumping in to help, they’ll just stand and shoot video on their phone — you’ve got to wonder whatever happened to good old empathy right?”


“I’m a big believer that in the next three to five years, this is going to be ubiquitous, and our devices will have ‘emotion chips’ and a variety of sensors for the state of people around it – it’s a natural evolution from the mouse and keyboard we used to use, to touch interfaces, and most recently the way devices have become conversational. The next stage of that evolution is for devices to become perceptual.”


"About 55 percent of inferring your mental states is done through your face and gestures. Another 38 percent is how you are saying it, your tone and your inflection. Only 7 percent is on your choice of words. That means most of this industry is ignoring 93 percent of the data available."

The Next Web:

“As Emotion AI is embedded into more and more conversational interfaces and social robots, no longer will it be socially acceptable to scream angrily at Alexa. She might respond with something like, “please don’t yell at me, that hurt my feelings.” As technology becomes “more human” so, too, will our interactions with one another. We will come full circle, and empathy will soon be back at the center of how we connect and communicate.”

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    Media + TV Appearances

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    Rana delivers keynotes + sits on panels for a variety of events


    As a female, Muslim scientist with a doctorate degree, Rana el Kaliouby  is a role model, especially for young women in science and technology.  Rana is one of few women who has successfully transitioned from academia to business, has founded her own technology company and has raised several rounds of funding from top tier investors. Rana is passionate about mentoring young scientists who are considering careers in technology and entrepreneurship.

    Articles by Rana

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    Film + Documentaries

    PBS Nova

    Rana is co-host of the new PBS Nova Wonders series, and is featured in the episode entitled "Can we build a brain?" This episode explores how today’s A.I. actually works—is it truly intelligent? And for that matter, what is intelligence? The world’s brightest computer programmers are trying to build brighter machines by reverse-engineering the brain and by inventing completely new kinds of computers, with exponentially greater speed and processing power. NOVA Wonders looks at how far we’ve come and where machines are headed as their software becomes ever more…cerebral.

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