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Introducing Yi-Ling

Hello everyone! I am Yi-Ling and I am the newest member of the AGI project team. It is an incredibly exciting time to be dipping one’s toes in the field of Artificial Intelligence, given the impressive progress and explosion of AI applications in recent years. In my case, I am actually going to dive in and fully immerse myself in one of the frontier issues and thrilling challenges of AI – Artificial General Intelligence. I will be documenting my journey and learnings in the form of blog posts on this website, and hopefully spark some interesting discussions with you. But before I do that, here’s a little bit about myself so you get a peek of the person behind the words.

Who am I

I was born in and grew up on a beautiful tropical island called Penang on the Northwest of Malaysia. I left Malaysia at the age of 20 to pursue a tertiary education in Germany, majoring in power engineering. Upon graduation I was awarded the Marie Curie Fellowship program funded by the European Commission to work as a software engineer at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. The experiment that I was working for, CMS, was one of the two experiments that first discovered the Higgs Boson. I have also worked for several nonprofit organisations, including Doctors without Borders, as a digital communication specialist. I am currently a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. My research concerns the impact of social media science communication on public trust in science.

I also do a bunch of stuff outside of science. I am a Toastmaster, the Editor in Chief of the Scientific Malaysian magazine, and a salsa dancer. I used to play the keyboard in a rock band and my idea of a perfect Sunday involves jazz, a hammock, coffee, and a good book.

Why did I join AGI

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the human brain. Not so much its structure and composition, but what it is capable of. My deep fascination with what makes us conscious and sentient beings capable of extraordinary feats — both good and evil — has followed me through my diverse career. I have always believed that the best science happens when humans are driven not by intellect alone, but by a deeper and more visceral desire to understand our nature and the universe. The fact that the pursuits of AGI at times border on the philosophical makes it all the more interesting to me. My current research is tangentially related to AI in that I am applying machine learning to study big data. I would like to think that my becoming a member of the AGI project is a step up into finally fulfilling a lifelong dream.

I believe in the vision and mission of the AGI project. Although I have just met Gideon and Dave, they strike me as intelligent, passionate and generous human beings who genuinely wish to accomplish something meaningful. And I want to be a part of it.

What will I be doing

One of the missions of the AGI project is to rally and connect the community of AI researchers and practitioners. Our blog is one way for us to reach out and network with the community. I will be involved in the research aspect of the AGI project, and will be sharing learnings and ideas through a series of blog posts. There are many topics that we are currently exploring e.g. sparse coding, unsupervised learning algorithms, deep hierarchical reinforcement learning etc. These are relatively new (or at least less-reported on) concepts compared with the current deep learning paradigm which has mainly focused on backpropagation techniques. However we believe they harbour promising potential to tackle the AGI problem. I will be reviewing the literature on these areas and writing about them. This is useful not only for our own record, but by sharing openly about what we are currently working on, we hope to engage you in conversations.

So stay tuned and till next time folks.

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