Rana el Kaliouby, a Cambridge- and MIT-trained scientist and leader in facial-recognition technology, is concerned about how computers are affecting the emotional lives of her two small children.
There is much research that suggests that emotional intelligence develops from social interactions, yet children are increasingly spending their days in front of computers, tablets, and smartphones. Today, children under the age of eight spend on average two full hours a day in front of screens. El Kaliouby is deeply concerned about what happens when children grow up around technology that does not express emotion and cannot read our emotion. Does that cause us, in turn, to stop expressing emotion?
The answer, according to recent research, is yes. A University of California-Los Angeles study last year found that children who had regular access to phones, televisions, and computers were significantly worse at reading human emotions than those who went five days without exposure to technology.
But El Kaliouby does not believe the solution lies in ridding the world of technology. Instead, she believes we should be working to make computers more emotionally intelligent.