Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity by Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology

Rana el Kailouby, with Carol Colman. Currency, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9848-2476-9
El Kailouby, cofounder and CEO of the tech firm Affectiva, debuts with an uneven recounting of her personal and professional experiences working in the field of “Emotion AI.” El Kailouby’s professional message comes through with sincerity, as she enthuses about the possibilities of computer programs that can interpret people’s emotional states by collecting data on facial expressions and other nonverbal cues. El Kailouby will win over fellow technophiles as she describes holding a hackathon to encourage programmers from diverse backgrounds to contribute to Affectiva’s software, and working on an “emotion prosthetic” to help autistic people understand others’ facial expressions. The details of her personal life—juggling the expectations traditionally placed on “nice Egyptian girls” while pursuing her technological vision, and watching the post-Tahrir Square period of unrest in her home country while working in the U.K. and U.S.—also make for intriguing material, but her discussion of them feels surface-level and self-conscious, as if she’s working too hard to come across as a simultaneously aspirational and relatable role model. Readers will find el Kailouby’s book an appealing manifesto for Emotion AI, but only a serviceable memoir. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/24/2020
Release date: 04/21/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-9848-2477-6
Paperback - 352 pages
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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