Could A Person Fall in Love With An AI?

Lonely in iso? Could AI be your next best friend? PhD student Jordan Vice joins us this week to chat about the ethics of artificial intelligence, building robots, and achieving your dreams.

Find Jordan on Instagram @jordvice

Particle Podcast is about science and the people who just love it. It’s produced and presented by Rose Kerr (@rosie.zkerr). Particle is powered by Scitech, and you can whisper your hopes and dreams to us at @ParticleWA on Twitter and Instagram.


Could a Person Fall in Love with AI?

  • Host: Rose Kerr
  • Guest: Jordan Vice

**Cue music (intro theme)

Rose Kerr: Welcome to the Particle Podcast where we talk about science and the people who just love it. I’m Rose, and as a kid, robots really scared me. Sounds like a weird segue, but it’s actually very on theme because today I’m joined by engineer and PhD student Jordan Vice. Jordan is not a robot, but he does work with them. We had a chat about artificial intelligence and the rise of robotics. Oh, and if you hear any background noises in today’s episode, that is Particle content creator Zaya in the background and she pops in a little bit later when I asked him questions she wanted to ask.
Welcome, Jordan.

Jordan Vice: Welcome to me. Thank you for having me. First time being on a podcast I’ve always wanted to be on one

Rose Kerr: Exciting stuff!

Jordan Vice: It’s like Joe Rogan, but with less muscly bald dudes.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, disappointing – we need to bring in some bald dudes. So to start off with- we always start with this question. I’m going to get you to explain, what do you actually do?

Jordan Vice: So I am a recently graduated mechatronics engineer. I am a PhD student now. And yeah, I was a student at Curtin for four years, worked in industry the whole of last year in the mining industry and was wasn’t my cup of tea at the time. So I just decided to go and do more research because research is super, super fun.

Rose Kerr: What’s your speciality in research?

Jordan Vice: So I’m doing my research on machine learning and emotional AI specifically. So that’s pretty much just using computers to try and analyze the thing that drives human beings, which is like emotions. Yeah,

Rose Kerr: that’s wild to combine something so inherently human like emotions to a computer.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, right. It’s weird. It’s like Westworld. Yeah.

Rose Kerr: What was the inspiration behind the research?

Jordan Vice: Um, I don’t know. I guess like, Well, my whole thing was I just wanted to see, like if it was possible, and then obviously, by doing the research, I wasn’t the only one I thought it was like, is this possible. And my initial idea was to design a like audio visual like, like vlogging tool kind of thing like to bring it into the 21st century. And what that would have done is to like be a tool for therapists and stuff like that. Like instead of telling people to go and like journal, your thoughts, blah, blah, blah, and then come back in the next session. This would be like an audio visual tool, and then they just speak into it. And then the therapist would get a report, and then they’d be able to make a …

Rose Kerr: That’s unreal, so they could tell like the I would potentially be able to tell from your tone and the way that you speak if you’re pretending to be happy, but you’re really sad?

Jordan Vice: Yeah. Yeah, it’s like one of the things is actually sarcasm is super difficult, because obviously, sarcasm in itself is a contradiction. So it’s more like facial expression recognition. And then speech is split into the two parts. So that’s like how you speak and what you actually say. So that what the system does is like it classifies or uses machine learning sorry, to determine the emotion in each one of those and then what the like holistic emotion is from that.

Rose Kerr: Gosh, that’s complicated.

Jordan Vice: Yeah took a year so it was great, but you know what? I would do it all over again, which is why I’m doing my PhD.

Rose Kerr: That’s good. That’s good fuel to get you into your PhD. Before we go into that side of things. I want to go way back. Did you like science as a kid? Is that something you always wanted today?

Jordan Vice: I loved it. This is something I wrote down when I was like preparing was I always said that I wanted to either play Iron Man, it will become Iron Man. And yeah, like I just I’ve always loved science and Spider Man was actually my favorite superhero grown up and he’s that nerdy kid and like, he might be like a nerd. Cool. Yeah, pretty much and like you just now because you know you get the movies and like in like the 80s and stuff is like “oh beat it nerd” and like all that sort of stuff. Like no one really thinks about that anymore because like people have embraced like being a nerd because there’s nothing actually wrong with it. And I’m just glad that I grew up in like an age where, like being smart wasn’t something they like got looked down on.

Rose Kerr: Oh, great. Yeah, I would not have been cool in the 90s very grateful for things like remember Glee, making like, being a bit different kind of cool. And I was so grateful for it. Do you remember what kind of science you loved when you were a kid?

Jordan Vice: physics, math.

Rose Kerr: what?? But they’re the most complicated and most I’d argue dry subjects.

Jordan Vice: I don’t know. Hey, like what do you think about like astrophysics. I was like, that was my third choice. Like when I decided what I’m going to do at uni. It was mechatronics, nanotechnology and then like physics and then I would have done astrophysics, but like, it’s so cool. Like, it just puts, I don’t know, I just feel like it puts everything into perspective because you think about the things like, ah, like an atom is like a chemical like sub atomic particles. Sorry, and like the smallest things and then you go wide and it’s like “ah human beings are so small, it kind of makes you feel a bit insignificant”, but like it just it’s I don’t know, I see it as a sense of like wonder like, we’re so small, and like, I’d love to like just go into space like and just

Rose Kerr: Yeah, but would you go to space if it was-

Jordan Vice: 100%

Rose Kerr: Is that not terrifying?

Jordan Vice: I don’t know like yeah, there’s those movies like Gravity and stuff like that is a does terrify you but I’ve mean more like I would go to the moon or I’d if they were like, oh yeah, colonizers on Mars. We need the first colony. My hand would be up like straightaway, I don’t know. I just find it just so cool. It’s just so different. Like, sometimes we like just forget, like how much is actually out there. And unfortunately, especially like our lifetime, we won’t see any of it. Like we it will be like thousands like hundreds of thousands of years before like everything, all that small, insignificant like part of it actually gets seen. So this – it’s disappointing.

Rose Kerr: I wish there was some way to see it all.

Jordan Vice: It’s like the good thing that we were born in the 2000s Oh, like born, you know and raised in the 2000s. but then the bad thing is like all this other cool stuff we’re gonna miss out on.

Rose Kerr: Yeah.

I want to ask if you always dreamt of being a scientist, this is a strange question. But do you remember the first robot you would have ever gotten? Now that you work with AI – do you remember?

Jordan Vice: My mom actually has this photo of me. And I wish I had it. Like I wish I had a copy of it. But it’s a photo of me and it’s like the one of the things I built when I had like Mega Bloks and I built a Mega Bloks robot. That’s like, yeah, I feel like a little megabloks robot and then yeah, like now look at me. So it’s literally like since four or five years old, you know, I’ve just like I said, I’ve always like wanted to follow like science and I’m glad I got the opportunity to do so.

Rose Kerr: I find it crazy that I know the first robot I can remember, I didn’t have it but my cousin had it, it was one of those robot pets the parrots that would speak to you back and it terrified me. It scared me so much. So the idea that kids now get toys that have a level of artificial intelligence to it is wild.

Jordan Vice: The toys now is so much cooler than the toys like we had growing up, but it’s just what you know, more kids are going towards iPads, which is so

Rose Kerr: less exciting.

Jordan Vice: Yes, so much less exciting. So less exciting, you know, I just find like using the toys and like imagination and stuff like that, and it’s so cool, but that’s obviously a topic for another –

Rose Kerr: Another time.

I’m gonna jump in before we get too far into the conversation. But Artificial Intelligence or AI, in very, very simple terms, is a computer system that gets fed big chunks of information, which then turns into data to make predictions. It’s important to say it makes predictions, not decisions. Because it’s humans that make decisions based on predictions, AI can only make predictions.

How do you even program artificial intelligence on a really basic level?

Jordan Vice: So human beings, right, we interpret information that we see all around us. And our brains are just like super powerful at taking that information and turning it into data, which we then process to do actions. So if you want to make an intelligent system, you want to make it so that it does a similar thing, but obviously not to the degree that we do as human beings. So if you take an image, for example, an image, it’s got information in it, that information gets processed into data. And then once you have an evidence base, which is what they call like data sets. So that’s how they can make the comparison between like a new input image and be like, Oh, wait, I’ve seen something similar to that. So I’m gonna think, like, in my case, that person looks happy. You know what I mean?

Rose Kerr: So it’s all about giving the computer, enough examples and enough information. So you have to recognize it again.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, so it’s just the case of having like, evidence to back it up. So if you had a system that can be saying, like, Oh, this is a cat, or this is a dog, you need to give it a bunch of photos of cats, a bunch of photos of dogs. And then if you give it an image of a snake, it’s obviously it’s gonna say it’s a cat or a dog, but it’s obviously not a cat or a dog. It has no idea what it is. It’s just like, this looks 2% like a cat. So yeah, so it just has to have like data and evidence and I hate the word but data. The big thing is this, like everyone talks about, like, oh, there’s so much data in the world kind of thing. And I don’t know. I just feel like it’s a overused. But it’s so like true. Like, you need data to be able to make decisions.

Rose Kerr: What was the first programming you’ve done for artificial intelligence – was your project the first time you done….

Jordan Vice: (nods) yeah

Rose Kerr: woah was it?

That seems like a very complex, it was a pretty steep learning curve. How does that even happen?

Jordan Vice: Well, the good thing about engineering at Curtin, and this is not a plug, but is that like, you do get toward programming from like, first year, all the way throughout, like your degree. So by the time we got into fourth year, I knew how to program and like I knew how to code. And you just get this. Like trains your logical thinking, like being able to like code as well. So it’s like you have your problem. You read you do your research about how like other people have done it, and then you apply it in your own way. And so yeah, that’s just how I did it.

Rose Kerr: Had your research been done much before?

Jordan Vice: So there has been like research people trying to like do emotional, like classification. So that’s been done in the past before yep.

Rose Kerr: Because it really seems like the ultimate challenge, right? To rate a human with the robot.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, cuz it’s like this whole thing about improving that view of the human machine interaction, like cuz right analysis like, uh, you know, it’s like one way really. But the whole reason I wanted to do it is like, let’s see, like where we can go with this, like, but at the end of the day it kinda becomes Pandora’s box, because like, we have no idea if like, we keep going with this, how like, advanced people might make it, but then again, it’s the hole that’s in like he is, and we might not be able to see it, or I’ll hope I can make I see it.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, we’ve gotta get moving faster.

Jordan Vice: Yeah.

Rose Kerr: That’s funny you bring that up, because that’s some of the questions I was talking to the rest of the Particle team about before I did the interview. We wanted to ask you, could you be friends with AI?

Jordan Vice: Yes, I am not a believer in the Terminator theory at all. Like, at the end of the day, if we have a kill switch, it’s not That’s like, robots can get turned off like robots need power. Like, unless we make a sentient robot that knows how to rip its power cord out. We can shut it down and like you can destroy servers like it’s not… Artificial intelligence will not create the end of the world. I know there’s like, oh, the news programs it’s like, you know, world where AI is in your home. Taking photos of you on the street. No, I swear I saw something on like a current affair or something about that. Yeah. And this is like fear mongering. It’s preying on the people that just like believe what they say kind of thing. So I don’t know it comes to like education, but at the end, I will say regulation as well. So the governments and the people in power do actually need to put rules and regulations in place to actually stop stuff like that happening. But right now, the like, the technology is like so like infantile, that we don’t really need it. About at the moment, and I could see like decades before, like, we really have to start thinking about it.

Rose Kerr: It always makes me think of the episode of The Simpsons where Marge has the AI in her house and it starts talking to her and she falls in love with it. I think it might be a take on Her actually, when she falls in love with the AI. Do you think that’s going to be possible?

Jordan Vice: Yeah. Because human beings are weird.

Rose Kerr: Yeah.

Jordan Vice: We’re so weird. Like, you can’t control love, like love is so powerful. If someone wants to fall in love with their computer let them.

Rose Kerr: I wonder if one day we’ll have AI weddings.

Jordan Vice: That’d be cool.

Rose Kerr: That’d be pretty exciting.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, I’d love to be at one.

Rose Kerr: Going back to the ethics, what do you think are some important regulations that we’re going to need to have as people are developing AI and maybe as it becomes more accessible for the everyday programmer to be able to do?

Jordan Vice: Security. So that goes back to the whole like data thing. So like, private like security on personal data and making sure that people don’t like infringe on other people’s like rights and stuff like that. But then again, there is no like, at the moment, we don’t really have any data protection, like regulations, which is why companies that make an app it’d be like, you’d sign the terms and conditions and you sign your life away. And but people don’t understand – people don’t really think about that. And then they get worried like I was just talking about Domino’s. And now I’m getting ads for Domino’s. And it’s like, Yeah, because you signed your life away. And I bet when I look at my phone later, I’m going to get an ad for Domino’s for saying it four times in the last minute, but like, you know what I mean, it’s just we need to think about data, security and privacy. And we need to also think about, it comes to the thing about like, taking jobs away, which I believe or this is might be a very biased point of view that it’s there to aid. Like I said, AI gets people into jobs and allows people to explore other avenues, but obviously that’s not always the case. Because you get like the you get the simple like simpler tasks that can be done like the rudimentary, like put something here from here, something here from here that a robot can do that. Obviously those jobs will eventually get like, eliminated, eliminated sounds so bad

Rose Kerr: Destroyed!

Jordan Vice: But like they will get turned into something else. So we just have to like, think about stuff like universal basic income, which is not a socialist, like, socialist con kind of thing. But like, Yeah, we do have to start thinking about stuff like

Rose Kerr: Supporting people through the change.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, exactly. Because like people are gonna eventually have so much technology that they won’t need to do certain stuff and like leave the house. We can sit on our couch and get food. The moment will come where Uber will be like, okay, I don’t I want to have self driving cars. I want to have drones just delivering food. Domino’s will be like, I want to deliver pizzas with a drone.

Rose Kerr: So they should that’s amazing.

Jordan Vice: When I was in America, actually though, a company at the conference that I was at that said that they were trialing in different states in America of like using self driving cars to deliver pizzas. There you go that’s the first step like

Rose Kerr: The future…!

Jordan Vice: The future is now.

Rose Kerr: You’re doing your PhD now.

Jordan Vice: Yeah.

Rose Kerr: What’s PhD life like?

Jordan Vice: lonely.

awww! Is this going to turn into a therapy session?

I’ll just get my robot to do that. Yeah. Yeah. No, PhD life is it’s, it’s cool. Like I said, I love research. And I would like say that for anyone that like if you love doing what you do, like continue doing it. And I got a huge kick out of doing research last year. And even when I was working like in industry, I was a part of like a research and development team. And that stuff is super cool. Like r&d is so cool. And the fact that I can like not have a nine to five and still do like r&d is that’s pretty sick like Um, I’m pretty happy with it.

Rose Kerr: In r&d and industry, what did those environments look like? Because I kind of picture it like a bunch of people sitting in a room yelling cool ideas at each other.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, but with more logistics. Like, money is a obviously like a big thing, like in industry. So you have to consider, like uh costs, fesability, and assist, I’d say it’s a little bit more slower than if you were doing it at home. Because like you have to, yeah, there’s much more stuff that you need to think about, than like, if you’re at home, you can be like ah whatever, just give it a go. If it doesn’t work, I’ll just try again. You know what I mean, about like an industry, there’s people waiting on a product. So if you can’t deliver the product in time, then like, you know what I mean? So it’s much more stressful as well,

Rose Kerr: and you’re working within someone else’s box of what they need.

Jordan Vice: Yeah. And there’s a lot more people putting their ideas into the box as well. So like, if with me doing my PhD, it’s mine and with like, information from my supervisor coming in as well. So, like, yeah, if I want to do something, I’ll just do it.

Rose Kerr: What’s your current PhD project?

Jordan Vice: So it’s just furthering the stuff that I was doing last year. So it’s creating a more sophisticated emotional AI system and going towards, like communication as well. So right now all it does is listens and understands and sees, but it doesn’t communicate. I played around with it last year, and I had a thing called Friday. Uh huh. Cuz that’s Iron Man’s AI…

Rose Kerr: Oh that went way over my head, but now I’m back in.

Jordan Vice: Cool.

I would say like, hey, Friday and it would be like, hey, Jordan, it was super weird. It would be thinking about it! But yeah, and then but that’s like, it’s no, it wasn’t too hard to do. But then it’s like, I would understand the emotion be like, Oh, I’m 72% sure you feel happier right now. Which is pretty cool.

Rose Kerr: You’re like, wow, I’m not that sure.

Jordan Vice: Yeah because you’ve been stressing me out all night.

Rose Kerr: How could you be lonely when you’ve got an AI with you!

What is a day in the life like for you when you’re doing research?

Jordan Vice: Um, so it starts on Sunday. So Sunday will be like, what am I researching? Oh, well, it started today for me, actually. So what’s the next week look like for me, and then what’s the next two weeks and I’m trying to take it two weeks at a time at the moment, just because I don’t wanna start like overwhelming myself. And this is I’m doing like the literature side of things now. So it’s just like actually understanding what’s out there. And so day in the life of Jordan is going to Curtin, go to sit at a desk, doing research, leaving, going home, coming back doing research and like tutoring as well, which is really fun. Like, I do really love the tutoring side of things. So that’s like a few days a week. And yeah, meetings, tutoring, research, reading student research.

Rose Kerr: I’m glad that you’ve got tutoriung to break it up. Yeah, how often do you tutor?

Jordan Vice: So three classes about eight hours.

Rose Kerr: Is it challenging?

Jordan Vice: Yeah. Because it’s so it’s challenging because I’m tutoring a unit that I just did last year.

Rose Kerr: Oh, wow.

Jordan Vice: Yeah. So lab tutoring third and fourth.

Rose Kerr: Hope you did well in it.

Jordan Vice: I did well enough, I guess. So I’m tutoring third and fourth year units. And it’s weird because these people that I’m tutoring, it’s not like, I’m like teaching kids. I’m teaching people that are probably the same age as me, older than me, or like a couple of years younger than me. So that dynamic is weird, because you kind of want to tell them what to do. But at the same time, it’s like, Can I tell you what to do? You know what I mean?

Rose Kerr: You’ve got to assert your authority!

Jordan Vice: Yeah, I’ve been I’ve been trying to. It’s a huge learning curve, because I’ve never tutored before. Like, I’ve done a lot of mentoring stuff in the past, but I’ve never actually tutored. And like, I’m trying to, I’m trying to learn. I’m trying to get that under my belt because it’s, I’ve always wanted to do it.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, I was gonna ask about that. It’s funny you bring up that you’re – the people you’re tutoring are around your own age. You’re quite young to be doing a PhD – because it’s kind of new field is it quite youth oriented?

Jordan Vice: So what my only real like experience with that is when I went to America, I found that there were like a lot of PhD students there. And then there was a lot of like, mid 30s, like 40. So I think it is like pretty youth oriented like young adults, too. Don’t know what 30 to 40 demographic.

Rose Kerr: We’re not gonna isolate anyone.

Jordan Vice: But yeah, so it is because it’s so such a, like a budding thing. So like, it’s expected that young people Oh, cool AI and people that are what are you doing a PhD? And I’m like, yeah, that’s like, Whoa, that’s cool. And I’m like, it is cool.

Rose Kerr: That must feel good to be around people who like, what you do is cool because I think that sometimes if you’re outside of science, like I work in both a science space, but also in a bit of an art space, and I get mixed reactions. Some people are like, Wow, that’s amazing. Like science is cool. Some people you talk to just aren’t interested. Which leads me to my next question, which is, why should people care?

Jordan Vice: Why should people care? Because at the end of the day, technology is vastly improving and it will continue to improve. So if you don’t care, you’ll be left behind. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble listening to this. I heard you have a youth audience the other day, like, on with technology, but all the old people listening to this, get on with it. Yeah. Or you’ll be left behind. There’s not a lot you can do about it. Yeah. It’s like that’s the thing and especially like emotionally, like, or, AI in general. Sorry, like we were saying, like, it’s gonna come in, it’s gonna help you with your jobs, and it’s gonna also replace jobs in a safe manner where companies will accommodate you.

Rose Kerr: Do you think AI is going to be able to have creativity?

Jordan Vice: So that is a big stumbling block because obviously like I saying, we program like machines on what to learn and like what to do. So how are we supposed to teach a machine to create something completely new, but you have like the Google stuff that like take but that again takes images from everything else to make something different. It doesn’t it’s there’s like pure pure creativity is so difficult to like replicate. So I was watching, I was actually watching a YouTube video. And it was a robot that just drew a sketch of a person. But that again, it’s not creativity. It’s just it took a photo, drew the lines around the photo and then drew the lines on a piece of paper. Yes, you know what I mean? So it’s copying. It’s not. I don’t know, I can’t at the moment, see how you recreate creativity because, like human beings, we it’s like natural to us,

Rose Kerr: and arts are based off human experience. And how can you teach AI human experience?

Jordan Vice: It’s just gonna be like zeros and ones.

That would be difficult. I can’t see it happening in our lifetime. But maybe I’m wrong.

Rose Kerr: We’ll find out. Yeah.

You mentioned a few times you went to America and as a good journalist, I did read that you went to an international conference on cognitive machine intelligence.

Jordan Vice: Yeah.

Rose Kerr: What was that all about?

Jordan Vice: It was super fun. So I tried to publish a paper for my final year thesis, and I did publish that paper.

Rose Kerr: Congrats.

Jordan Vice: Thank you. So I went to America got presented. And that was lucky stressful. Because I’ve always I’ve only ever presented either in a lecture hall or like school assemblies. I’ve never gone to the other side of the world to talk about my life or talk about what I do. So on the plane, I was making PowerPoints and like yeah, You’ve got plenty of time the 14 hour flight. It’s more than enough time to prepare. But you know what, like, it just happened. It was super, it was super fun like, I at least not to my norm. I thought I was better than some of the other bands that were repping Perth at the same time, which is great. Yeah. But it was cool because like it was people from all around the world that were just talking about cognitive machine intelligence. And I met this guy from Amsterdam, I think or Well, the Netherlands and he I told him he made cleaning toilets sound sexy. Yeah, because he created like machine, like machine learning like cognitive machine intelligence, whatever you like want to say for the like maintenance and like cleaning up of toilets in an airport. Oh, and he the way he spoke as well. The way he spoke as well like, man. You know what you’re on about, you go clean those. Yeah,

Rose Kerr: I love the way that he’s – I mean its a problem that most of us who’s seen an airport, you know that’s a problem.

Jordan Vice: Yeah

Rose Kerr: But I would have never tried that thought of trying to solve that problem –

Jordan Vice: with like machine learning.

Rose Kerr: No.

Jordan Vice: Yeah. Cuz it’s the whole because the whole idea is like obviously using data, being more efficient- buzzwords. Like, yeah, that’s what he did. He had, you know, it’s like smiley face angry face, neutral face inside people as they walk out, press the thing, and then it would send the data and then they’ll be like, Okay, cool. So every, like- around this time- that’s when the toilet is the most dirty. That’s why we should clean it then and then move around, you know? So, like I said, he made it real, real cool.

Rose Kerr: I mean, that’s great. That’s impressive.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, but it was also fun to just listen to people much, much smarter than I am. A couple of really cool panels as well, where we talked about like, AI coming in, like, like, destroy the human race kind of thing. And it was like so much smarter people talking about it than me though. I was like, super interested.

Rose Kerr: How did you even end up like going? Did you apply? Did you get selected? How did it work?

Jordan Vice: So the research paper was double, double blind peer will peer reviewed, like, judges read it, and they’re like, Okay, this is good enough, come and one of the authors has to present your work. And it was so me, the lead author, and then my professor and a professor from Canada that was just working in with us. And yeah, just I didn’t want anyone to go and present my work. So I said, I’m going no matter what. I’m on that plane. I’m going to LA to present my work. So I did it. Yeah.

Rose Kerr: Where you nervous?

Jordan Vice: Super. Yeah, super nervous. Especially because I didn’t like really practice,

Rose Kerr: what??

Jordan Vice: because I just modeled it on my final presentation. And then I was just like, I could change a bit of words and then go ahead and do it. And yeah, and just oozed natural confidence.

Rose Kerr: Nothing like under preparing to make you sound confident. Were people interested? Did people find it cool?

Jordan Vice: I thought so at least, you know, got claps at the end got a few questions, so at least I felt like people were interested in it.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, question time can be pretty scary. When I’ve presented research before. What do you do if you receive a question that just throws you?

Jordan Vice: I’ll be like um, I don’t UM

Rose Kerr: obviously

Jordan Vice: I don’t UM. I’m “umming” now!

Rose Kerr: This is a real life example!

Jordan Vice: Well, like if I don’t know it, and I haven’t like talked about it, I’ll just say, just kind of do have to do more research on it. And that was, that was what a lot of people did in their final year, like thesis presentations. They were like, questions that was out of the scope of work. But I think I answered all the questions.

Rose Kerr: Was it fun being around other scientists?

Jordan Vice: Oh, so cool. I love having intellectual conversations. And I just, you know, not even just about AI machine learning, but just about like life in general and just talking about. Yeah, just the big picture. And it’s just yeah, super fun and being around those people that have similar interests to me, and then knew so much more than me as well. And it’s like, I learned a lot from that trip.

Rose Kerr: We’re actually back from a short break. Not that you’d know that with the magic of podcasts. But we’ve just had a bit of a chat about some questions and Zaya from the particle team has had a couple we’re gonna, throw at Jordan. So first of all, how do you think we can deal with bias in artificial intelligence?

Jordan Vice: That is unfortunate. Because like human beings, we are naturally biased. We just have to like think about designing a system that has a amounts of data in each thing. So, if you had 70 photos of someone that’s happy and 30 photos of someone that sad, more likely, if it looks at a face will be like, even if it’s like a small smile of like, okay, cool, that person’s happy. Yeah, it’s super easy to program bias. Insert into anything really. Like for example, like, you could have a whole lot of ethnic people in a group and then just be like, Okay, if ethnic person, extreme criminal, know what I mean?

Rose Kerr: Yeah, its a genuine problem.

Jordan Vice: So, like, easy to program, that sort of stuff. It just has to go down to regulations. Again, we have to have like systems in place that actually like control, like, how we use AI, artificial intelligence and stuff like that, and to try and like prevent bias, but bias is a problem in AI and it’s something that I’d like I talked about in my thesis as well, in that like, if you have, like oversaturated like one piece of data compared to everything else, you’re more than likely gonna have like misclassifications in that data set.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, definitely. Thinking about, you know, I don’t know, there’s some things about AI like bias, and especially when it comes down to things like racial bias, that make it sound kind of bad sometimes. What are some good applications of AI?

How can it make life better?

Jordan Vice: Trying to find medical conditions early.

Rose Kerr: Oh, how can it do that?

Jordan Vice: So if you have a whole lot of data of people with their, like blood samples and stuff like that, yeah, obviously doctors know how to do it as well. But like, if you have data and you have someone that’s coming in, and blah, oh, this person might in the future have this kind of like condition. That is a very wide idea.

Rose Kerr: Yeah, it makes sense. Yeah.

And given that, you know, some in some areas, particularly in say, remote Australia, we have a shortage of medical staff, and so could overcome some of those issues.

Jordan Vice: Exactly. Like you can just have The like in the remote areas and like, send the data to the system that’s in the cloud somewhere and then system, which is why maybe you needed send that person to a specialist, and then that person will go to the specialist like,

Rose Kerr: and that could be a person.

Jordan Vice: Exactly. So like I was saying before, it’s like there to supplement people, it’s not always there to just take people’s jobs away.

Rose Kerr: Do you think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions about AI?

Jordan Vice: 100 hundred percent? Like 100. Like, that’s the whole fear of technology kind of thing. Like I imagined when someone created the wheel , like one caveman created the wheel or whatever, that would have been like, No, no, no, no, no, no wheel. No wheel! Yeah, so like, people were scared with AI going into factories and stuff like that. But the efficiency speaks for itself. Like, we have so much of all (this is like consumerism anyway), but we have so much more goods because factories are autonomous and stuff like that, you know, which is however you want to look at it a good thing or a bad thing. The people that were in the factories might have gotten re trained to know how to maintain the robots that are doing the jobs that they were doing, but not at a fast rate. So-

Rose Kerr: The jobs changing.

Jordan Vice: The jobs changing, like there are obviously certain jobs that we just don’t have anymore. And there’s certain jobs that have come up. Like, we have people that go and fix Wi Fi. Yeah, like go and fix the internet. That is a new job in like the 21st, early 21st century that we just didn’t have. So this is a misconception that like it takes away jobs, because technology will always create more jobs as well.

Rose Kerr: It kind of works both ways.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, it does. So you have to like lose some to gain some.

Rose Kerr: What’s something that you wish people just knew about your industry something that if they knew what it would just either make your life just a little bit easier, or it would help them understand a little bit better?

Jordan Vice: I think if you just understand that it’s getting programmed by a human being and not and know that it’s not sentient in any way, then you should like, just understand that there is going to be someone behind it that has like, been the architect. So if you can point if you’re so scared, you just go look at who the architect is and question them instead of questioning the robot because the robot was designed to do something, you know, it’s that whole like, blaming, like blaming the hammer, because a builder hit you on the finger. Yeah, you don’t buy the hammer, you buy the builder? You know,

Rose Kerr: That’s a good analogy.

Jordan Vice: That was a good analogy.

Rose Kerr: We’re talking about r&d a little bit earlier. Is there a standout moment from your time in r&d?

Jordan Vice: Oh, yeah. So a week before the project due date, I busted the switch by reversing the polarity. So like, obviously you don’t do that. So just start just don’t do that. So like the switch fried and like, yeah it sizzled. And this is a week before the thing was due. So luckily we had like a spare switch, but he had to like wire everything up again. And and

Rose Kerr: Still stressful.

Jordan Vice: Yeah. And this was like three o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday. And so like, cool. Let’s test this and then next week, we’ll just do all the testing before we ship it out. Oh, yeah, three o’clock on Friday afternoon. It’s broken.

Rose Kerr: Oh, I would have had a breakdown.

Jordan Vice: I think I just did the whole like, roll back in your wheelchair. Yeah, like, yeah, just look at it. I was like, go for a walk. Yeah, yeah, I went for a walk. I came back and I’m like, cool. I’m staying here and then got it in like four hours. And the thing is like, the switch was one of the first things I’ve like, soldered like properly and it looked like garbage. Like it was so poorly done. And then when I looked at that, like the switch that I’d made, it was amazing. Like it would look like professionally done. So it also shows like that like learning curve, the fact that something that took me so long The first time I did it took me like super easy the next time that’s cool Yeah, so that is my bad but also good experience with r&d.

Rose Kerr: What’s your ultimate goal? In your research? What would be the thing that actually we’ll go two different ways. First of all, if you could program AI to do something, what’s your like dream goal to be able to create something?

Jordan Vice: I would like to create something that had its own artificial memory, so like to create so imagine you’re creating like a child robot build a robot

Rose Kerr: it’s like an infant

Jordan Vice: yeah that like it like in its infancy Yes. Like learns throughout its life kind of thing. And then like continuously like gains its own like memory so

Rose Kerr: Rather than starting at a high level

Jordan Vice: Yeah. And like having to like learn all this stuff like from scratch. So how something gradually like start learning about different things and then like you learning how to like, use its actuators which is like, it’s You know, create a out of like, create like a Yeah, a robot, the robot like a like, you know, big version of that, like just learns as it develops, which is obviously what machine learning is anyway. But yeah, artificial memory, which is I don’t know how possible that is. But I’d love to do something like that.

Rose Kerr: It’s great to be able to dream it and maybe one day you can do it. And I guess along that same kind of pathway. What are your goals for your career? You’re quite young, you just started your PhD, What do you -What are you hoping to do?

Jordan Vice: This is the most stressful question you’ve asked me. I, I don’t know. Like, I’ve always just like wanted to go in. I don’t know if I want to like own my own company. That sounds a bit stressful. It would be really cool. But I’ve just always wanted to just build stuff. And if I get into a position maybe where I can go into another like r&d, I like you know, looking at like Google looking at my Apple, maybe not Apple. I like Microsoft. Working at Google, like, just that blank space of I just like building stuff. And yeah, that’s, that’s all I want to do.

Rose Kerr: It sounds like you’ve got the brain for inventing and dreaming, and then try to make it like it does take a certain kind of way of thinking. So I suppose if you’ve got it and you’re willing to work hard, there’s no reason why it couldn’t achieve those things.

Jordan Vice: Yeah, exactly. Like, I just want to invent stuff. And I just create things because i don’t know i don’t like seeing it as cuz you said you do science. And you do arts. It’s like, I like it when science and art like, mate and merge. And that’s like, what I feel like innovation is like you have to have like, some kind of creativity to invent something because it’s obviously doesn’t exist. So yeah, like, I just think it’s super cool. And that’s why I just want to keep inventing and using my creative brain before it shrivels up.

Rose Kerr: That’s it’s so interesting that you said that about creativity and science because almost everyone we’ve interviewed, keep saying something similar that they like that science embraces creativity. So it makes me excited to that’s a theme a lot of scientists feel that it’s not necessarily that arts or creativity and science are isolated, they do work together.

Jordan Vice: Yeah. So like 100%. It’s just, you know, we can’t advance as a civilization if we don’t keep coming up with new things. And that takes a form of creativity, so the more scientists that believe in the fact of the theme that we need to have creativity and science work together, I just feel like the further that will go.

Rose Kerr: If you can hear some paper rustling is because John’s actually brought in notes. I told him to bring a fun fact it’s come so well prepared. So I’m really excited. What is your fun fact?

Jordan Vice: I’ve got four

Rose Kerr: four!

Jordan Vice: But I will you know what, I’m so glad I got this one because we’ve been talking about creativity. Yeah, and robots that can do the arts. So Hear this. So probably this is an article that’s from somewhere that I can’t remember now, prior to the first nuclear bomb detonation in July of 1945. Hold on, it’s getting somewhere. isotopes such as strontium 90 and CCM. 137 simply did not exist in nature. They were created by the massive neutron bombardments that occurred during a thermonuclear explosion. Since these isotopes didn’t exist in Nigeria prior to 1945 paintings created prior to 1945 could not contain them originally.So when you try and find a painting and see if it’s fake or not, you can use a you can see if it has that stuff. It has strontium or CCM in it, and if it does, you know, that has been created after 1945.

Rose Kerr: That is a very fun fact.

Jordan Vice: So you know its fake. How cool is that?

Rose Kerr: That is so cool. Do you want to read us another one because you had so many?

Jordan Vice: Besides global warming the next big thing that will change Antarctica’s ecosystem is penguin poop. For the last 5000 years, penguins have provided the rocks in Antarctica with 16 million pounds of nutrient rich poo, which can one day support plants and animals that can’t currently survive in Antarctica.

Rose Kerr: I think I knew that. I think I knew that one deep down somewhere. I did conservation biology, and I think it came up at some point it is really important the ecosystem because there’s, there’s less life in Antarctica. So things like penguin poo is gonna be really important. Yeah. Oh, amazing. Thank you so much those fun facts. And thank you for joining us, Jordan.

Jordan Vice: Thank you for having me. This has been great. Like I said, I’ve always wanted to do something like this. And I’m glad you guys gave me the opportunity to do it for the first time.

Rose Kerr: More than happy to.

Thank you for listening to the Particle podcast. You can find more of our content on all of the socials as well as at Particle is powered by Scitech and this episode as always was recorded in the beautiful science hub that is Western Australia.

Rose Kerr
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