Taste of the Talk | Rosalind Picard, “Emotion Technology at Home, School, Work, Play”

Professor Rosalind W. Picard, ScD is founder and director of the Affective Computing research group at the MIT Media Lab, co-director of the Things That Think consortium, and leader of the new and growing Autism & Communication Technology Initiative at MIT. In April 2009 she co-founded Affectiva, Inc., where she serves as chairman and chief scientist.

TEDxSF: Tell us a little about yourself and what brought you into your current work.

RP: I got interested in how the brain works and building computers that worked more like the human brain. And while I was trying to build computers that could perceive information, see as we see and hear as we hear, I ran into these important roles of emotion in the brain and decided oh dear, I didn’t really want to work on emotion, but it looked like it was pretty important for building intelligent functioning systems.

TEDxSF: Can you give us into your talk about “Emotion Technology”?

RP: We have been developing ways for computers to process emotional information both to sense it and make sense of what that information is and to use it in a lot of areas that range from learning about oneself to learning about one’s child, especially non-speaking children. We’ve done a lot of work with kids on the autism spectrum. Also, we can apply it to various medical areas. The basics of the emotion systems are involved in things like seizures. We also have a lot of commercial uses for what we’re doing and you can imagine all the online applications, where somebody is showing you some content on the web and its making you bored or making you laugh and you can turn on your web-cam, read your facial expressions, and communicate that back to the creators of the content to help them have what they need to know to make the content better.

TEDxSF: How do you live your best life?

RP: It’s always a challenge having multiple jobs and also being a wife and a mother. The biggest guide for me is to always believe in and pursue something much bigger than myself. A quiet truth that might surprise a lot of people, I, like many scientists and engineers, happen to believe in god and a greater being. And with that belief comes a belief that all people are created equal –that we all have huge value. And I think that’s what been driving my work that has been focusing not so much on creating new technology, but technology that really improves peoples lives. Especially lives of people that have been really disenfranchised or who have often been left out of opportunities in life.

Watch a demo of Emotion Technology at work at Web 2.0:

Listen to the full interview:

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