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

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  467 ratings  ·  99 reviews
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.

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 mal
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Currency
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Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rana El Kaliouby is in many ways a trailblazer; not just in her role as a Muslim woman at the forefront of tech, but also as somebody who puts the emotional intelligence of technology at the forefront of everything she does and argues for the ability of tech to create grater equality, whether that be in the form of robots who can care for an act as companions to the elderly or educational tech which supports autistic children or provides the same opportunities which were traditionally solely ava ...more
Eric Cohen
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I could have given Girl Decoded 6 stars, I would. This is my first ever book review and I felt compelled to share my thoughts about the book because it brought me so much joy. While my journey is not quite as exotic or exciting as Dr. Rana el Kaliouby’s, as a fellow technologist, entrepreneur, and parent, I was excited and moved to hear details about her life, facing many of the same struggles, insecurities, and triumphs we all encounter. The author’s description of those micro-moments that h ...more
Jana Amin
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was such a pleasure to read. I finished reading this book in one sitting. From the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. Indeed, I finished it so fast that I wish it were longer! Rana’s story is not only an incredible one, but one that is both relatable and inspirational, offering a unique perspective on what it means to follow one’s passion. At a time when it often seems like there is a lack of empathy and kindness in our world, Rana’s story is an important testament to the p ...more
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
This biography-cum-tech update on Emotion AI turns the unease about our notion of the future of AI working against humanity around. AI is not evil but intention can be. I appreciate that the book looked at potential contributions of Emotion AI to healthcare, employment, workplace, and personal development. But one department it could also zero in on, and play an enormous role in, is social media. Plus points for emphasis on the ethics of collecting user data for machine learning, and the importa ...more
Adnan Alaa
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have not rated a book with 5 stars in a very long time. But, this one really deserved it being so relatable and insightful in so many aspects. I came across this book while watching a documentary about AI which featured Rana among its interviews. It is very inspiring to see someone growing up in Egypt reaching such high level in such advanced position. It is such an inspiring story to see how hard she fought her way to success with having to live abroad alone, taking care of her newly born chi ...more
Silas Brown
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As good as I expected from the Rana I knew in Cambridge. Although her personal story has dark times which must have been difficult to write—don't expect to be entirely comfortable all the way through—the overall message is a very positive one, in which Rana has communicated for a non-technical audience her journey of discovery through four continents, the surprising medical potential of Emotion AI and the difficult decisions they had to make to bring it to fruition without abetting state surveil ...more
David Festenstein
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Girl Decoded is truly a must read!  It is about Rana's quest to "humanize technology before it dehumanizes us". Her journey to add emotion to technology is inspiring, moving and insightful and particularly so, because it is also her personal journey "to decode" her own emotions and truly embrace them. As a coach I was particularly struck by her many years of journalling in order to do so and how she harnessed the power of journalling especially during difficult times. Equally impressive is her p ...more
Arpita Vats
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I generally don't write a review, but for this one, I can't stop myself, this is really inspiring for me especially being a woman in the field of computer science, it is very motivational for all the girls across the world. I really like the idea of how technology can be infused with emotion and understanding of human emotions by computer is really amazing. I really find myself lucky to have the opportunity to read your story, thank you so much for this wonderful book.
# machineswithemotionalInte
Samer Chidiac
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just finished Rana el Kaliouby’s book, “Girl Decoded”, and would certainly recommend reading it and the Audio Version narrated by her is a gem!

The book is more than an mémoire, I like how Rana opened up about her personal life and matched important milestones of her career & life with the evolution of technology and AI.

Rana’s work sheds a light on a very important aspect that is deemed to change our entire world, and I believe that such research is very important especially in the Middle East
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was truly riveted and captivated by Rana's personal and professional journey. As a woman co-founder I can personally relate to the obstacles and challenges that she endured to see her dream come to fruition. I connected with her on so many fronts - especially motherhood. I am not a computer science person but you do not need to be to relate to this fascinating field of emotional AI. There is so much humanity in this technology that I truly hope it is always used to further benevolence and conn ...more
Rasha El
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one exceptional book! A very emotional yet very inspiring read. I actually finished the book in one day!
This book powerfully highlights Rana's story, back when she was a kid in the middle east, to her college and study days, all the way to how she founded her own company. It reflects on all the mixed emotions she had through out her personal and career life, and how these emotions helped her reach what she is today. Though it is very richly developed and written, it also touches you to t
Hailey Melamut
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in a single sitting and found so much meaning in the story. Rana el Kaliouby's story of growing up in the Middle East, and relentlessly chasing her dreams as they led her across the world, was inspiring. Personally, as a young woman who started my career several years ago, it was really encouraging to read about a strong woman who's defied cultural/gender norms to become a leader in a male-dominated industry. I also appreciated the sense of hope in the future of technology... so ...more
Clint Taylor
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Rana el Kaliouby reveals her incredible and beautiful story about her lifetime pursuit to fuse emotional intelligence with technology, chronicling decades of determination, courage, fortitude, family, world cultures and life lessons to which anyone can both relate and come away inspired.

Girl Decoded both entertains and educates with a heart, transparency, humbleness and humor that is all too rare inside a single person in this world. In ingenious form, it makes the too-often complex topics of t
Keith Foster
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Girl Decoded is a fantastic memoir that very openly captures the highs, the lows, and the nuances of Rana's journey growing up as an Egyptian woman, mother, co-founder of her company, CEO, and thought leader in affective computing/emotional AI . Throughout her story, you witness how Rana's uncanny faith in her vision combined with those she inspires whom champion for her success are able to overcome obstacles and achieve breakthroughs. An excellent read and I also highly recommend it for those w ...more
Randa Sabry
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Girl Decoded was an inspiration, not only as Rana’s mother but as an Arab Woman who also tried to defy status quo and challenge traditions and norms to embrace my own calling. Every word, every story especially in the first chapters, took me back in time to the place where they happened. Rana has managed to capture her journey perfectly in her memoir, finding her voice along the way. I hope it inspires others too.
Janilyn Kocher
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading about the author's personal history. I got lost in the science part of her work. Honestly, I skipped those sections until I read about something pertaining to her personal life. I'm sure her parts about computer speak are fascinating to those who comprehend all of that, but I am not one of them. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the early read. ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An interesting story about the life of a scientist, entrepreneur and a thought leader in a very uncommon set of circumstances. The story is very well written in a way that's very engaging. I couldn't help but visualize all the story as it unfolded.
On the tech side, it was a very simple explanation to a complicated subject. It gives a lot of hope in how tech can be used for social good.
Symme Benoff
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
No technical background is necessary to appreciate the descriptions of coding and algorithms, because the writing is fluent and the analogies are taken from daily experience. This is not only the story of one extraordinary woman. It's also a riveting look into the ways emotional intelligence can change the way we interact with our devices and ultimately with each other ...more
Nihal Nasr
Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant book by an extremely talented author. Rana could so flawlessly envision technology with feelings and emotions. A journey that blows your mind away.
A very talented Egyptian who could simply decode Artificial Intelligence into human feelings.

Congratulations! A real blessed success
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I just finished Girl Decoded!! I absolutely loved it.
I was truly inspired by your story on so many levels. I really wish I could convince certain members in my family to read it to challenge their perceptions, and I will try to do so.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book so much!
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The role model I have been looking for, thank you Rana!
Ali Zirakzadeh
I recently read Dr. El Kaliouby’s memoir, “Girl Decoded”. I recommend you read it also. If you have already read it then re-read it, like I have. About a fifth of the way into the book Dr. El Kaliouby wrote about “imagining the world not as it is but as it will be.” Something grabbed my attention about this passage, so I did something I rarely do when reading. I started the book anew with that line as my navigator. I came to realize that Dr. El Kaliouby, a computer scientist, entrepreneur and CE ...more
Gabi Zijderveld
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading Girl Decoded: it's such a captivating story of self-discovery, leadership and technology innovation, and I found the different themes of the book very inspiring.

First of all, this is Rana el Kaliouby’s life story, from growing up as a “nice Egyptian girl” to becoming one of few women founding and leading an Artificial Intelligence company. As a scientist turned entrepreneur, a Muslim-American and technology thought leader, el Kaliouby is a very welcome new voice in the t
Iulia Nandrea-Miller
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Inspirational, Hopeful & Motivating

I read this book in one sitting - I could not put it down! Rana's story of overcoming her self doubt and kicking that naysayer voice to the curb is one that resonated with me very deeply. I've struggled in my life to speak up and to trust myself and exude that confidence that I know I should; Girl Decoded was a beautiful reminder to believe in yourself, ask for what you want and forge your own unique path. One of my favorite quotes of all time is a Ralph Waldo
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rana takes us through her personal journey as a girl, woman, student, wife, mother, academic, professional, and eventually CEO. I ended up reading this in two spurts, intrigued by Rana's unique upbring and perspective, her curiousity and impact in the world of technology.

As a mother of a child who has autism and an IT professional, I found the personal and scientific parts of Rana's life -as well as where they intersect - to resonate. The applications of her research and later start-ups are wid
Rula Ayman
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Extremely interesting and enlightening

When I first read Girl Decoded, it was the first time I see a women in three roles, a tech pioneer, a wife/mother and a rebel.
Just like all of us, Rana is multifaceted and managed to capture the rational, the emotional and the creative sides with Girl Decoded. The way she frames her journey to humanizing technology while understanding and unlocking herself is inspiring.

One of my favorite things she says “People typically talk about having dreams and spendi
Muhammad Khan
An incredible story, taking the reader along the journey, through highs and lows of a human endeavour that has been nothing short of remarkable! Rana, thank you for sharing such a personal journey, for inspiring professionalism and introducing new human-emotion-centred technology in computer science AI; and for being refreshingly brave and vulnerable, breaking traditional norms and thinking. This book is a must read for anyone who maybe doubting themselves or feel on the cusp of breaking the tra ...more
Fred Kiel
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Rana el Kaliouby is a principled and courageous woman. One is left with gratitude that there are people like Rana in our world. She is an amazing leader in the technology field. She is a trail blazer who recognizes the danger to the human species of a technology with no EQ. I was inspired.
Apr 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was so touched by this book and its authentic message. Not only does Rana’s story resonate with those who read it, her passion for AI shines through, and is inspiring to anyone looking to pursue their dreams.

Thanks Rana for this wonderful read!
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