An interview with Mr. Patrick van der Smagt – A man who loves to see connections through research fields!
At the Second Workshop on Brain, Computation, and Learning (BCL) at Indian Institute of Science, we got a chance to interact with some of the leading minds in the field of Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence. We interviewed few of them. One such humble person was Mr. Patric van der Smagt, Director of fundamental AI research at Volkswagen group. Currently residing in Munich Area, Germany, he is also a Chairman of the board of directors of Assistenzrobotik eV, a non-for-profit organisation for assistive robotics to help people. Being an enthusiastic professor in the past and head of several divisions, it was quite a fun to have an informal interview with him. Despite being a viewing generation (than reading), I hope you would love to have a read at following!
I am not involved in finding problems, I am only looking at solutions. I know it sounds funny but for me that is the difference between fundamental research and applied research. Like in applied research, somebody has a problem, he/she comes to see you and you say ‘Oh, I need bigger computer, tons of engineers and scientists and I have two years in hand to solve the problem’. In fundamental research, nobody comes to you and you say to yourself that, I have this silly idea and I am going to implement it and see what it does and half of the time nice things come out (and somebody can indeed use that). Advantage of being in a company like Volkswagen compared to a university, finding a problem to research on is always quite easy. Versus in University, you try to find solutions but nobody has a problem for you.
Do you think by looking at current progress of AI that at some point of time in future it will be capable enough to solve the major problems as Global Warming and Economic Bubbles?
Given an infinite amount of time, yes!
Ha Ha Ha. Cool! Lot of people lack the proper understanding of AI, they overestimate the stuff. So, from your experience, how can someone manage the expectations of what’s possible with AI and what’s realistic?