• Question: Does your job help you with any thing imprtant?

    Asked by sunaina to Yee Whye, Valerie, Nick, Mackenzie, Lin, Jun, Jacob, Brian, Anna on 12 Nov 2019.
    • Photo: Lin Shuyu

      Lin Shuyu answered on 12 Nov 2019:

      Um, this is a quite hard question. I guess it depends on how we define ‘important things’ and to whom the importance is measured. If it’s for myself, I would say my work is an important source of my happiness and sense of achievement. When I’m doing research, I feel like I’m working on small problems which one day will sum up to the answer for artificial intelligence. This makes me happy. So my work is very important to me. If we talk about the impact to others/society, it’s often the more applied aspect of our research work. We often do link our research to some specific applications. For example, I recently worked on an anomaly detection problem for a robotic company on some of their sensor data. From these aspects, our research is also useful for real-life problems/applications. However, I would say the first aspect is more important to me, as I believe everybody’s work has contribution to the society, but only specific things can make me happy.

    • Photo: Valerie Bradley

      Valerie Bradley answered on 12 Nov 2019:

      Building off what Lin said, I guess it depends on how you define important! I define important as working for the social good, and in an ideal world, my work has a direct, positive impact on peoples lives. I’ve spent most of my career working on data / analytics in politics and government, and my current work is on improving methods that campaigns and governments use to predict voter or citizen behavior. I believe that helping to elect candidates that I think will use their positions to positively impact people’s lives is important, but I also know that’s very subjective 🙂

    • Photo: Mackenzie Graham

      Mackenzie Graham answered on 13 Nov 2019:

      I think so. Ethics is all about how we should treat one another, so that everyone can have as good and happy a life as possible. Technology can make our lives easier, but it doesn’t always make everyone’s life better. So thinking about how we should incorporate technology into our lives, so that everyone can benefit, is important to making sure everyone has a good life.

      For example, suppose we have a computer that is really good at predicting disease, but it only works for people with white skin. Should this computer be used, if it only helps some people? How could we make it more fair?