The 2020 Porchlight Business Book of the Year is here!

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

Rana El Kaliouby, Carol Colman

In a captivating memoir, an Egyptian American visionary and scientist provides an intimate view of her personal transformation as she follows her calling--to humanize our technology and how we connect with one another.

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Book Information

Publisher: Currency
Publish Date: 04/21/2020
Pages: 352
ISBN-13: 9781984824769
ISBN-10: 1984824767
Language: English

What We're Saying

December 03, 2020

These are the 40 books we found represent the year best in one way or another. They help us make sense of the challenges 2020 has presented us with, understand the depths of the existing cracks it has exposed in our society, and offer solutions to solve the many truly monumental challenges we face—together. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

January 12, 2021

We will be announcing the overall winner of the 2020 Porchlight Business Book Awards on January 14. Until then, we are taking a look back at the books in contention for the award. Today, we have the books in the Narrative & Biography category. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

April 22, 2020

We depend too much on technology to give it up. And doing so would be a terrible mistake. We need our technology more than ever. But we need to make it smarter, better, and more humane. And fortunately, we now have the tools to do this. READ FULL DESCRIPTION

Full Description

In a captivating memoir, an Egyptian American visionary and scientist provides an intimate view of her personal transformation as she follows her calling--to humanize our technology and how we connect with one another.

"A vivid coming-of-age story and a call to each of us to be more mindful and compassionate when we interact online."--Arianna Huffington

Rana el Kaliouby is a rarity in both the tech world and her native Middle East: a Muslim woman in charge in a field that is still overwhelmingly white and male. Growing up in Egypt and Kuwait, el Kaliouby was raised by a strict father who valued tradition--yet also had high expectations for his daughters--and a mother who was one of the first female computer programmers in the Middle East. Even before el Kaliouby broke ground as a scientist, she broke the rules of what it meant to be an obedient daughter and, later, an obedient wife to pursue her own daring dream.

After earning her PhD at Cambridge, el Kaliouby, now the divorced mother of two, moved to America to pursue her mission to humanize technology before it dehumanizes us. The majority of our communication is conveyed through nonverbal cues: facial expressions, tone of voice, body language. But that communication is lost when we interact with others through our smartphones and devices. The result is an emotion-blind digital universe that impairs the very intelligence and capabilities--including empathy--that distinguish human beings from our machines.

To combat our fundamental loss of emotional intelligence online, she cofounded Affectiva, the pioneer in the new field of Emotion AI, allowing our technology to understand humans the way we understand one another. Girl Decoded chronicles el Kaliouby's journey from being a "nice Egyptian girl" to becoming a woman, carving her own path as she revolutionizes technology. But decoding herself--learning to express and act on her own emotions--would prove to be the biggest challenge of all.

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