The Next 40 Years of Emotion AI

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Each year, Fortune compiles a list of young leaders that they consider to be among the most influential young leaders for the year. The leaders included on this year’s list certainly set a high bar. I’m especially proud to be listed alongside so many inspiring female leaders, as this year’s 40 under 40 includes more women than ever before. Wow: Katrina Lake, CEO of StitchFix; Dhivya Suryadevara, CFO of GM; Anu Duggal, CEO of Female Founders Fund; Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister and brand new mom; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, rising politician and activist.

I am on a mission to humanize technology with artificial emotional intelligence, or Emotion AI: if we can create technology that’s built on empathy and an understanding of our emotions and cognitive states, we will not only make transform the way we interact with our devices, but also how we connect with each other.

This amazing recognition got me thinking about how far Emotion AI has come and what is in store for the next 40 years.

First and foremost, I am extremely proud of how Emotion AI has already progressed – and not just Affectiva’s technology, but the larger Emotion AI category that we created. This recognition belongs to the incredible army of people that have supported our vision for Emotion AI: The Affectiva team for their relentless work pushing the envelope, my mentor and Affectiva’s co-founder, Professor Rosalind Picard, our partners who are on the forefront of championing and deploying AI innovation, our investors who shared our vision before anyone saw it and the writers and analysts who document our story and our journey. Thank you: none of this would be possible without your tireless effort and contributions throughout the years. I am grateful for our partnership.

Emotion AI is projected to grow into a multi-billion dollar industry. We’ve already seen how Emotion AI can improve the way we live, work and travel. Emotion AI helps people on the autism spectrum to communicate with their loved ones on a deeper level. Researchers are using Emotion AI to help diagnose depression and early stage Parkinson’s disease. In the automotive industry, Emotion AI is ushering in an entirely new transportation experience, making travel safer and more enjoyable with driver state monitoring and occupant experience monitoring. It is still early days, so I am excited on finding ways to bring these technologies to scale – especially those that help our wellbeing.

But alongside these applications come many questions that we need to consider as an industry, and society as a whole. For example, how can we ensure that AI algorithms do not reflect any biases held by the people that develop them? Where do we draw the line between ethical use cases, and unethical ones? And how can we navigate the new social contract that’s emerging, as AI takes on roles that were traditionally held by humans?

I believe that much of the next 40 years will be spent grappling with these questions. To me, laying the groundwork for an AI-infused future must begin by building trust in AI. What does it take for humans to trust AI to make the right decisions—decisions that influence our lives, and for the greater good. And not only that, but how can AI trust in humans?


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