Prady Saligram was eight years old when he was first introduced to the term ‘AI’ at a Fun Robotics centre. "I have always been an avid math and engineering enthusiast," says the Year 11 IGCSE student. "But from the moment I heard about AI, I was keen to learn more about it."
The Hale student from Dubai admits that the main characteristic of artificial intelligence that appeals to him is that it can be applied to multiple aspects of numerous fields. "What especially fascinates me is the concept of automation and prediction models." To that end he and a team recently created an Alexa-automated sleeping bag to enhance astronauts’ sleep using aromatherapy.
Prady plans to pursue a dual degree in Business Management & Information Technology in the US.
Excerpts from an interview:
Why do you think AI is the future?
AI has made tremendous strides over the last few decades from the development of Siri using Deep Learning or fake news detectors using Natural Language Processing. There is no doubt that further technological advancements will occur.
AI is currently creating more jobs than it is doing away with – consequently, it is vital that we understand that AI will inevitably be as ubiquitous as the internet. It is the next chapter of human civilisation.
Tell us about the Alexa-automated sleeping bag you developed.
The theme for the project was to develop a device that solves a common space-related issue. Our team collectively decided to investigate sleep deprivation among astronauts; it was a repeating issue from our research. The device cleverly used aromatherapy – controlled emission of smells- as well as sounds and massages - and automated deep learning software to enhance an astronaut’s overall sleep, thus boosting productivity during the day. We used a Raspberry Pi as microprocessor to account for my preferences to write in Python as the primary programming language.
Have you worked on other such projects?
Yes, one of them was the Rail Robot. I was part of a team that participated in the First Lego League, the theme was ‘City Shapers’. We composed a Rail Robot to not only detect anomalies on the road but also identify the type, and relay the location and specification of the anomaly to authorities.
What support did you receive from your family/school vis-à-vis AI/robotics?
My parents consistently enrolled me in courses and competitions since I was little. I also received tremendous support from the SLT team at DIS and am thankful to my computer science teacher, Yilmaz Yadirgi, for mentoring me.
How do you keep up to date on the subject?
I acquire a lot of my information regarding current STEM affairs mainly from YouTube, subscribing to many channels such as 3Blue1Brown, Yannic Kilcher and Henry AI Labs. A great source for robotics trends is the Science Robotics magazine.
How do you hope to make a mark in the world of AI?
One fundamental goal I have assigned myself is the successful integration of AI into whichever field it might be – I seek to revolutionise the core processes, and add value to society.
Prady’s tips to students who are keen to pursue AI
Learn. Learn. Learn. Repeat. Be proactive and act now because the very definition of AI is changing by the minute. There are massive amounts of free data on the internet, so it is easy to get started. From learning a programming language to understanding different AI architectures to building a specialised project, practical work will elevate your knowledge exponentially.
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Anand Raj OK