I write this on my train ride back to Boston after attending the inaugural Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York. The Forum hosted heads of state and captains of industry from all over the world, and was positioned as the premiere event co-located during the United Nations General Assembly.

I was invited to attend because Affectiva was selected by Bloomberg as one of three pioneering companies "engaged in truly innovative thinking that is helping to change the world". Bloomberg filmed our team and the resulting video was shown at the Forum in front of the world's most influential leaders.

I was so inspired to be among some of the most well known politicians, CEOs, thought leaders and influencers in such an intimate setting. When I wasn't busy crushing on Justin Trudeau with his Chewbacca socks and all, here were 4 key messages that I picked up on that day:

1) Partnership, not isolationism, is the way of the future

Hosted by Michael Bloomberg, the Forum had 50 heads of states in attendance including 42nd President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Emmanuel Macron of France and Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. There were also 250 global CEOs including Tim Cook of Apple, Bill Gates Executive Chairman of Microsoft, Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba, and Indra Nooyi of Pepsico. There were more than 70 publicly traded companies present, representing a total market cap of $4.4 trillion.

While it may seem obvious, the message to the audience was clear: it is time for businesses, government and philanthropy to work together to solve big issues affecting us all. Issues such as social and economic progress, future of trade and global investment and the changing nature of globalization and beyond.

Personally, I found this message particularly relevant and timely as Affectiva had just hosted the first-ever Emotion AI Summit last week, where we convened 30 speakers and 300 people from a variety of industries who care about the future of AI.

2) Leaders set the tone

Again and again, I am struck by the critical role a leader plays in any organization. Michael Bloomberg reminded everyone that "the leader of an organization sets the tone and its people follow suit. When leaders dumb down the tone, they dumb it down for everyone." Words have consequences, he emphasized. That holds true for a startup like Affectiva, a behemoth like Alibaba or a country like Canada.

Throughout the day, I found this rang true as I listened to different state and business leaders. Jack Ma was forward-focused and optimistic about the future, adamant about how technology such as artificial intelligence will bring prosperity and new job opportunities. President Macron was visionary, prioritizing education, labor reform and AI. In contrast, President Erdogan of Turkey was cautious and lacked vision.

3) Inclusion is not only the right, but the smart way to go

I also participated in a roundtable discussion around gender equality in the global economy and how the public and private sectors can work together to accelerate change. The discussion was led by Boris Johnson, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

We touched on two themes:

  • Employment: If you can not measure it, you can not manage it. Several argued that to close the gender pay gap, it is imperative that companies become more transparent and publish their numbers, which companies may find controversial and uncomfortable. In addition, the UK identified improved childcare as a key policy for reducing income inequality. Sheila Marcelo, Founder and Chairwoman of Care.com strongly supported this view. Lynn Forester de Rothschild, founder and CEO of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism advocated for getting more women on boards "Saying there is no pipeline of women board candidates is just BS".

  • Education: We discussed the importance of engaging girls in STEAM early on and how there are many paths to becoming interested in STEAM. I drew from my own personal experience: Unlike my son, my 14 year old daughter does not care for robots or video games, but is particularly interested in applying technology and coding to help solve real issues in the world. From building robots and video games, to coding apps that solve a problem in your community, or 3D printing in fashion tech, it is important that we explore different ways to engage girls in STEAM and also ensure that there are many, and different, women role models that will inspire our girls to pursue STEAM careers.

While we focused on gender inclusion specifically, the larger message was that inclusion and diversity is the way to go, not only because it is the right thing to do, but especially because it is the smart thing to do.

4) Artificial intelligence is this century's main engine for economic growth

At the Forum, Jack Ma was a strong advocate for AI. "Because of artificial intelligence, because of the robots, manufacturing is no longer the main engine for jobs." Instead, he posited that small businesses using the internet and leveraging AI will lead to economic growth.

Ma dismissed a lot of the worries around AI taking over the world, reminding us that throughout the history of mankind, humans have leveraged technological advances to solve problems and advance society. AI and robots are no different. Machines have IQ and EQ, but not LQ. "Human beings have LQ, the love quotient. They have the souls, the beliefs and the values" to solve issues that the world faces. Machines do not.

Artificial intelligence was also high on President Macron's agenda. He iterated his plans for Europe, and France especially to be leaders in artificial intelligence and the transformation of the new industrial world by investing much more on education, re-skilling and training.

All in all, I left the Forum feeling energized and excited about where Affectiva is headed with Emotion AI. Our vision of emotion-aware technology will transform not only how we connect with machines, but with one another, promising to democratize access to education and health. I left assured that we are on the right path to getting there: through partnering, collaborating and inclusion, so that everyone has a voice in how we shape the future.