My pet peeve is: Indirectness My favorite car is: My first car, a 1977 purple Corvette
Augmenting human creativity with artificial intelligence
EMBRACING A NEW PATH. Alice Albrecht knew from a young age that she was different from other kids. A high achieving, academically oriented student, she finished her degree in Psychology when she was 20 and then went on to do research at UC Berkeley before starting in her PhD program studying cognitive neuoroscience at Yale. "I wanted to do everything really well, and really quickly. That was success to me." Before her 30th birthday, she had married her childhood sweetheart, had two children (and a third since), and bought a house.
A turning point arrived while doing her postdoctoral work at UC Berkeley, during a session hosted by renowned neuroscientist Vivian Ming. "She said, you have seven lives, and they are all about seven years, so figure out what your next one is." Until then, Alice had assumed she would always work in academia.
"I was like, what do I do now? It was very unnerving because failure was much less of an option at this point in my life, but she became the person who helped me transition past this idea of the rigid structure of academia. That was really influential for me in shaping my thinking and trying to understand what would be possible if I left this track that I was on."
Alice moved into the tech industry working as a data scientist and, true to form, decided she was ready to break out on her own after seven years. Her company, re:collect, is building a brain-inspired tool that helps knowledge creators recall and connect their ideas without breaking their creative flow.
"We're focused on trying to augment human creativity. Our product takes all the information you're consuming, connects it the way we think your mind would connect it using machine-learning models, and then at the moment you need it, or the moment you're creating with it, we bring those ideas back to you."
RESPONDING TO CHANGE IN THE WORKPLACE. As the company's sole founder, re:collect brings together the key learnings from Alice's past two careers, having previously used data and machine learning to help automate some people’s work. "I wanted to harness the potential of this technology in a way that would build new things, not just automate workflows. I also saw how people's jobs were changing quickly, even in big Fortune 500 companies. I discovered their creativity wasn't going to change; we would still need that capability of putting two ideas together in a new way and bringing that into the office."
Alice's minimal experience in launching companies and raising funds was even more challenging with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She joined online communities where she could talk to like-minded folk but quickly discovered how few LGBTQIA+ channels there were; a familiar situation for a woman working in neuroscience in the 2000s. "My big learning was to find your tribe. Even in academia, I found my people, which has helped me feel part of a community. Having that support is a big help in feeling like you can achieve things and think about what's possible. I would love to see a world where being a woman or queer doesn't feel like a blocker; it feels like a benefit.”
"I realized early on I am different from other people. I thought, well, I'm going to own that, then. I'll have different ideas and be able to operate in a space where people are like, yeah, she's a little weird, but that's okay."