Early in her career, when she was a junior researcher building artificial intelligence systems at the MIT Media Lab, Rosalind Picard was unsure what to do with data she encountered on the impact of emotions on human perception and cognition. The findings were compelling — but they also made her uneasy.
Bringing up the “e-word” as a serious research topic, she says, was “a great way to end your career” — and she was trying to get tenure, Picard told me. “I kept bumping into all these roles emotion was playing and trying to figure out how to fit that into my mathematical models of the brain. And I did not want to jump into that because I was a woman in science.”