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Why take the AI & Society minor? These students explain

The interdisciplinary AI & Society minor of Leiden University brings together students and lecturers from a wide range of disciplines. Together they look at the impact of AI on society. Students are enthusiastic about this merging of worlds.

‘I now look differently at the career I want later’

Yesmina El Arkoubi, third-year Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (BSc) student:

‘I was looking for a course that covers AI from more than just the technical side. That’s how I ended up taking this minor. But the content was still a surprise because I had expected the relationship between the technical and other aspects to be about 90:10. But the most unexpected of links are made between AI and the most unrelated of disciplines, AI and archaeology for instance. The biggest eye-opener for me was the legal side of AI. I had no idea that European legislation on AI was being developed and that tech companies were self-regulating. These legal and ethical aspects aren’t covered in my programme. Thanks to this minor I know for sure that issues such as the ethical and social effects of AI are really important to me. I now look differently at the career I want later because I want my contribution to be a responsible one.

‘What’s also really valuable about this minor is that you meet students from all sorts of disciplines. Whereas in the discussions I could explain more about the technical development of AI, I learned about how an administrative framework works, for example, or about security. Having all these disciplines together resulted in really beneficial collaboration. I would definitely recommend this minor to other students, even if you think AI doesn’t have much of an impact on your degree programme. Because AI really does affect each and every discipline.’

‘Once you get into AI, you really can’t stop thinking about it’

Mauricio Bussink Terán, third-year Philosophy (BA) student:

‘While looking for a minor, I came across this one and thought it looked perfect. AI is probably the most important thing that’s going to happen to us in the future and I knew nothing about it. As soon as we started, it was clear that the minor would fit well with my major because the first course was on philosophy, politics and the ethics of AI. I realised that many questions arising from AI are the most fundamental questions in philosophy and that AI brings a whole new perspective on these. For instance, can a machine have a mind, intentions or consciousness at all? How do we develop such a machine and how should we treat it? Can we consider it our equal (morally)? Some of the things I learned were also instantly applicable to my studies, as I’m going to start working on my bachelor’s thesis and that’s on the human mind and how it learns and stores information.

‘I would recommend the minor to all students because you get all of these valuable insights into AI. For example, many people think of AI as an abstract thing. But the computing power behind AI, the systems, all of it is built on raw materials. To get these, developing countries and workers are exploited and resources drained. I think people should at least know a bit about what’s really going on, what AI is and where it comes from. Also, all of the lecturers were really passionate about the subject and the implications for their own field. And I can see why. Once you get into AI, you really can’t stop thinking about it.’

Are you a student at Leiden University and would you like to know more about this minor? Visit our info page.

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