Field: Human-Robot Interaction
Position & Organization: Postdoctoral Scholar, Tufts University / Co-founder, Future of Life Institute
How did you get started in this field? I have to credit my husband, Max Tegmark, for getting me on fire about figuring out the intricacies of intelligence, biological or artificial, and also for getting me enthusiastic about activism work. It took me a while though to figure out what *I* could contribute to this endeavor. When we started the Future of Life Institute I was the only person in the group with a background in social sciences and it took me some time to realize that this was actually an important perspective to have, rather than an impediment to doing meaningful work in this field.
What do you like about your work? I love the people that I work with, their idealism and energy. Also doing research is a fantastic luxury: getting to spend your life asking interesting questions and working on finding the answers – I can’t think of anything else that I’d rather do.
What do you not like about your work? It’s often gloomy. With the Future of Life Institute I spend a lot of time thinking about existential risk, with my human-robot interaction work I spend a lot of time thinking about disorders affecting social interactions and technologies that can help with that. That’s why my work bucket list contains these two wishes: one day I want to study a population that is exceptional not in the problems it has but in the amazing talents or experiences it has (like extreme altruists or extremely happy people), and I also want to research a case in which technology didn’t just fix a problem but actually substantially enhanced an already positive experience.
Do you have any advice for women who want to enter this field? Be brave. This is our world too, we can’t let it be shaped by men alone.
What makes you hopeful for the future? The thing that makes me hopeful for the future is the same thing that also makes me very pessimistic: people and their psychology.