Rana el Kaliouby

Global investments in artificial intelligence (AI) have significantly increased yet organizations still struggle to use the technology to its fullest potential. As Smart Eye Deputy CEO Rana el Kaliouby (el kall-YOU-bee) knows firsthand, to make the tremendous leaps demanded by 21st-century business, leaders and their teams must become AI-minded – but this change can’t happen all at once.

“Small changes to how you approach AI transformation can have a big impact,” explains el Kaliouby, co-founder and former CEO of Affectiva who has been named one of Entrepreneur’s 100 Women of Influence in 2022, AI Magazine’s 2022 Top 10 Leaders Innovating in the AI Space and Forbes’ Top 50 Women in Tech. “For example, by clarifying roles and responsibilities, you can alleviate fears about job elimination. Show you respect privacy and safety by declaring an AI ethics policy consistent with your business values. Success will boil down to team, culture and people.”

A Harvard University Executive Fellow, el Kaliouby couples academic rigor with a practitioner’s experience to demystify AI and its practical implications for business advantage. Her exceptional skills earned as a tech entrepreneur, investor, and early pioneer in the data science and machine learning C-suite make her an expert guide for organizations embarking on an AI journey. Pointing to pitfalls and highlighting opportunities, el Kaliouby shows businesses how to weave AI throughout the fabric of their organization and revitalize their culture to automate, accelerate, innovate and, ultimately, increase profits.

Developing an AI Mindset for Competitive Advantage

Research by Accenture shows that firms with fully mature AI initiatives see 50% greater revenue growth on average compared with their peers. What sets them apart? According to el Kaliouby, these organizations were willing to combine strengths across strategy, processes and people to fully develop their AI mindset.

“These savvy companies committed to becoming entirely AI-first, from C-level sponsorship to technology infrastructure, from business ethics to company culture,” explains el Kaliouby, a 2023 Eisenhower USA Fellow. “Soon, every business, from the smallest startup to the biggest institution, will need an AI transformation to remain competitive.”

A seasoned leader, el Kaliouby’s keynotes and executive education sessions use examples from her successful companies as proof points to ignite curiosity about the benefits brought by machine learning and other tools, demonstrating in real-time how to overcome an organization’s cultural AI resistance to unleash the power of their data in the most ethical way. She maps a scalable framework that supports organizations in using diverse AI applications to create a competitive advantage in existing and new markets. Talented at translating complex science for any audience – as seen in her popular TED Talk that has nearly 2 million views – her “how to” guide sheds light on practical matters like the right way to de-silo organizational data and where to invest to fully capitalize on the data’s insights. Lifting the hood on AI-first organizations, el Kaliouby points to the nuts and bolts that hold them together, showing stakeholders how to deploy the latest AI tools that unlock new sources of strategic and operating value.

AI Transformation for a More Equal World

A unique voice in the AI space, el Kaliouby’s exceptional story as a Muslim woman tech founder is unforgettable. Bestselling author of “Girl Decoded: A Scientist’s Quest to Reclaim Our Humanity By Bringing Emotional Intelligence to Technology” (Penguin Random House, 2020), she shares how discrimination and cultural barriers led her to become the industry’s leader in designing solutions to ensure AI is ethical, non-biased and essentially human in its values.

“I am concerned that unfortunately, and unintentionally, we all may be building biases into these algorithms and then deploying them at scale,” warns el Kaliouby. “If you just have middle-aged white guys developing models and looking at their accuracy, it’s not going to be enough to overcome blind spots. The more diverse perspectives we have that can poke holes at the approach, the better we will all be.”

A long-time proponent of women in STEM, el Kaliouby serves as an inspirational role model for anyone who has faced adversity in a tech career. Her willingness to be open about her experiences has led her to be frequently reviewed as the #1 session for attendees. Honest and authentic, her candid description of experiences with prejudice in AI will continue to resonate, ensuring a lasting change to AI ethics practices and procedures. As el Kaliouby showcased in Fortune’s Brainstorm AI 2022 conference, which she co-chaired, AI technology will continue to race ahead, and organizations taking a human-centric approach will be the ones that come out on top.

“We can’t forget about the people behind AI or those impacted by it,” she reminds. “Without a human-centered approach, AI will fall short of its potential, so it’s only right that we consider the human before the artificial to net the biggest benefits.”