Artificial intelligence is all the rage. Lundagård sat down with members of HubAI, a student society committed to understanding the new concept.
Hidden in the back room of the main university library Lundagård was able to interrupt a meeting with Lola Schoellkopf, the Vice President and Michelle Konopka, Head of Marketing and Communication, of the student association Hub AI, to discuss the modern phenomenon of artificial intelligence.
Founded in September 2020, the association is supported by Akademiska Föreningen and runs monthly academic events and social meetups for those intrigued by what Artificial Intelligence has to offer. It aims to build a network of individuals, educate further, and share experience from members or guest lectures on issues surrounding AI. With around one hundred current members, the association is looking to grow, inspiring future industry leaders to become excited about what Lola describes as “the coolest of all algorithms”.
It is with this same excitement that Michelle explains to Lundagård exactly what AI is: “In artificial intelligence we can develop an algorithm that uses patterns to make predictions”. This is called Machine Learning. Michelle continues to reveal that this “is very prevalent in our society already with social media, filters, and facial recognition on our phones.” She makes it clear that while Artificial intelligence is used repeatedly in our everyday lives “many people still lack understanding”, allowing for the spread of misinformation. This is where Hub AI comes in.
“At the core we want to make AI more approachable, for all types of people, from all backgrounds” says Lola, as both her and Michelle agree one of the main aims of the association is to “demystify” this technological buzzword, especially for those with a background in social sciences. Michelle explains how it is vital to “bridge the gap between the technological and societal perspectives” of Artificial Intelligence, as her own experience of studying Sociology led her to crave a more interconnected discussion between the two fields which could learn from each other.
Hub AI is completely free to join with other events run by the association including thesis inspiration talks, film nights, Python programming classes, and student-led debates. This huge variety of monthly events is what is particularly appealing about the association which prides itself in educating its members on AI from many different perspectives. A recent student panel which took place involved a student studying Anthropology who discussed how surveillance, which uses AI, shapes our modern society. It is through these events that Hub AI is able to embrace the personal background of each member whether they have experience in tech or not.
A study from the World Economic Forum found that only 22% of AI professionals globally are women. While Michelle and Lola comment on the equal balance of genders attending their events, they are the only two women sitting on the Hub AI committee. Both agree that coming from bachelor’s degrees dominated by women into the field of AI was tough. “I felt at a disadvantage when I started” explains Lola, “however by being surrounded by women and lots of organisations at events and with the backing of Hub AI, my confidence increased”.
When asked to reminisce on their favourite moments from their time in Hub AI, both Lola and Michelle have so much to recount. Lola describes meeting her best friend at an event run by Hub AI, as well as developing many new and valuable skills. “I went from working in PR last year to becoming the Vice President, having to moderate discussions and do many things I never had before.”
Michelle agrees, emphasising how interesting she found the guest lectures such as Dalia Mukhtar-Landgren, a senior lecturer in Political Science at Lund University, who discussed how AI can be used to create smart and sustainable cities. “This helped me see new connections, AI can be used to bridge a gap I didn’t even know existed”.
Applications to join Hub AI are always open, as it is clear from Lola and Michelle that they value members from every and all backgrounds, focused on creating an interdisciplinary environment where everyone is equal to learn and teach from each other.
With a recent change in the committee, both Lola and Michelle have big plans for the future of the organisation. “We are going to increase our visibility and connections with corporate” Lola says at the end of their chat with Lundagård, “we will get out there and get seen”.