On AI, Self-Driving Cars and More

Lars Laichter ‘19 tells us about his work with artificial intelligence, his conference presentation in Poland, and self-driving cars.

Tell us what you’ve been up to over the summer.
I worked with an LA-based studio to create an augmented reality experience about the risks of artificial intelligence for the Sundance Film Festival, which is the largest film festival in the US. My role was to research current topics in AI ethics and work closely with the script writers to work them into the story. When people think about the risks of AI, they often think about evil robots taking over the planet. The most interesting part of this job was to think about how we should portray AI in such a way that it actually reflects the capacity of existing AI technology, but at the same time not underestimate the risks it can pose to society.

What’s your Keystone about?
A big part of my summer was working on my Keystone. I am writing my Keystone on a theory of consciousness called Illusionism. This theory addresses why the functioning of our brain is accompanied by an experience. It claims that this experience is an illusion and therefore we can explain it through regular methods, such as those used in cognitive science or neuroscience. So, I’m figuring out whether we can describe such an illusion in computational terms.

You went to a conference in Poland. How was that?
I had the honour of presenting my work at the conference of the International Association for Computing and Philosophy in Poland this summer. I presented a paper that I wrote as part of my Experiential Learning last winter with a professor from the University of Sussex in the UK. The paper proposes how to better account for time in theory of computation.

And somehow you found time to work on self-driving automobiles…
Another project of mine this summer was compiling a bibliography on the ethics of autonomous systems. This was in collaboration with a professor from Budapest where I did my study abroad last year. The university is considering starting a new research center on self-driving cars and so hopefully my work will help them to kick-start their research.

Why did you choose Quest?
I was interested in studying artificial intelligence from an interdisciplinary perspective. There are not many other places where I could get such a broad foundation covering so many disciplines relevant to artificial intelligence. Coming from the Czech Republic, where the education is still quite rigid, I am very grateful for the intellectual freedom that Quest has provided me.

What’s your Question?
How do we form a mind?

What do you plan to do after Quest?
I am applying for various graduate programs in philosophy.

Quest University Canada is suspending regular academic programming following
completion of the current academic year in April 2023.

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