A brand new path

I enjoy seeking out boundaries, so I can then take a leap and jump over them. My entire life I’ve been seeking out the physical boundaries my muscular disease puts onto me, and ever since I can remember I’ve seen them more as hurdles than actual limits. Sadly, the last couple of years have been filled with their fair share of hurdles and I had to let go of my dream to study Astronomy at the University of Leiden. That wasn’t something I admitted easily, even to myself, but “knots need to be cut” as the Dutch say. Before making rash decisions I decided to take a year off occupying myself with work so I could carefully think everything over – and search for an answer not only to the obvious question like “What makes me happy?” but also the more important question: “In what subject do I see myself excel in, and why?”

As I mentioned above, I enjoy seeking out boundaries and I enjoy exploring new things and endlessly mulling over mysteries. The technology of Artificial Intelligence is relatively new and I’ve found that it’s the unknown territory that intrigues me. I see the actual building process, the technical part of the studies, as an eventual goal. But to be able to build great things one must first understand the building bricks one is working with. To me those bricks are represented by several philosophical and mathematical parts. How can we break down an actual human train of thought into variables and parts of a bigger algorithm? Exploring limits, learning and creating new things, and using that knowledge to develop new technology makes me happy. Why? Because I find mysteries equally intriguing as annoying. When I encounter a puzzle I don’t only want to solve it, I also need to solve it. And it’s that crazy and complex quest which I plan to feed with the AI studies programme.

For the second question I’ve had more than enough time to think about it and nonetheless I concluded that the answer came rather unexpected and sudden. I never had philosophy classes in high school – a choice I greatly regretted – but after interesting and stimulating conversations with the philosophy teacher I found myself adjusting my personal timetable to be able to sometimes tag along. I find astronomy fascinating, and that fascination partly focused on the mathematical aspect of the subject. I’ve always found languages and the way we use language and words in our lives fascinating, and mathematics is really just another language to add to that spectrum. We’ve been conditioned to use words and phrases to express thoughts, and then my knowledge of language broadened when I learned that we could also use mathematical equations to express certain parts of them. It’s all about breaking down bits and pieces of information and translating them into something entirely new. To expend on my view of language it’s not too big of a leap to then consider converting it into coding – nothing more than yet another language, one designed to be understood by machines. Again, to ensure one can properly translate different kinds of languages, one must first understand what language actually is made up of and how it exactly works. Something I plan to find out.

Combining a scribbled list of my interests and fascinations a trusted advisor led me to AI. After enrolling it now seems as the obvious choice, one so obvious that I don’t quite understand why it took me so long to end up there. What I do know is that I can’t wait to be able to solve these puzzles and start the journey of evolving myself into an even more curious human being.

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