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Rana el Kaliouby: Building AI We Can Trust

  • By Madeline Cannon
  • Published: 10/22/2019
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BOSTON -- Humans are not fans of change. When something in our environment changes, we often push back. It’s not the advancement we fear, but the unknown that comes with it. Rana el Kaliouby, Co-Founder and CEO of Affectiva, knows all too well the fear that people have toward innovation, and she provided AFP 2019 attendees with her insight in the AFP MindShift keynote address, sponsored by Capital One Commercial Banking.

El Kaliouby noted that the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) generates a palpable tension in the air. Most of us have heard the horror stories of bots becoming biased in under 24 hours of operation and we have all been fed the Hollywood narrative that robots are going to one day take over our lives. In terms of dealing with AI, the fear we experience stems from a lifetime of being presented the worst-case scenarios.

She’s on a mission to change that. “I want to bring emotions back into our digital experiences.” el Kaliouby said. “I want to build AI that we can trust, and it can trust us.” The world her children are growing up in is radically different from the life she had growing up; the future is on a one-way track toward a technologically integrated society that we seem less and less in control of.

Accepting that we will be unable to reject AI, el Kaliouby has set out to dismantle the fear that older generations have toward robotic advancement and create a bridge toward the positivity and hope younger generations experience due to being born in a digital world.

As the future looks increasingly complex, el Kaliouby doesn’t let fear win. “We’re building these technologies; they’re not suddenly going to take over the world.” She’s pushing back against the shadowy narrative of AI with her work—a new social contract between AI and humans. It revolves around ethics, being human centric, dismantling known and unknown biases from the development stage to the end product, and establishing a code of integrity that safeguards emotional intelligence AI from certain fields that could abuse it.

Financial professionals could take a page or two from el Kaliouby’s playbook. As AI becomes increasingly interwoven into treasury and finance technology, how can practitioners make sure that they are combatting the worst-case scenarios? As el Kaliouby suggests, by pushing past fear and finding hope in the unknown. Emotional intelligence AI brings a world of possibilities to the treasury and finance world, from enhancing the consumer-product experience, to conducting international business more efficiently, to better understanding emotion-based decisions inherent to financial actions. As this profession continually relies on digital processes, we must incorporate the integrity and commitment that el Kaliouby has demonstrated by working toward a future that is ethical, so that the world we leave behind is one future generations can trust.

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