Meet the Labbers: Rosalind Picard

In our ongoing audio series, Meet the Labbers, we hear people from all roles across the Media Lab talk about what they do and why they do it.

Today, meet Rosalind Picard. 


Andy Ryan

"I’m Rosalind Picard. I'm a professor here at the MIT Media Lab, and I direct our research in Affective Computing. I also have another hat I wear at MIT: I serve as the faculty of the MIT-wide Mind, Hand, Heart initiative.

One of the things that drives our work these days is the desire to not only push what's possible technically, but to push how much good we think we can do with what's possible. It used to be we just kind of tried to optimize for what's cool, what's new, what's hard and challenging. Now we've added another dimension to up the bar even higher, and that is to try to do things that make a really positive difference in the world for people's wellbeing.

Faith is an extremely important part of my life. It's really what is my rock. It affects me every day but it hasn't been something my science has focused on. And yet, as we look increasingly at what does it mean to build technology that enhances wellbeing, what does it mean to be well? I'm starting to ponder, as a scientist, you know: Should we be talking more about this? I know it makes people uncomfortable—I used to be an atheist, so there certainly was a time when this topic would've made me extremely uncomfortable. But I think one of the things I've learned in the Media Lab is if it makes you uncomfortable, then maybe you need to learn about it, and let's talk about this like we talk about every other aspect of human experience.

The thing that gets me most excited over and over is when I don't know what's going to happen. 

I like that we're in a place where we can say 'no' to doing work that's very predictable, and we're able to pull together some pieces and try to do something that nobody's ever done before, and who knows if it'll even be interesting or a flop. There's some magic here in the people and the freedom and the passion that is about really making the world better. And we don't care what it takes—you know, we don't have to follow the formulas, we don't have to follow the rules—we're going to figure this out, and we're going to do it together. This is a really collaborative place.”

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