Name: Daniel Foreacre
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Anticipated graduation: Dec, 2022
Major: Computer Science
I am doing an Honors Thesis replicating the results of a research paper that used a neural network (type of artificial intelligence) to simulate a neuron (brain cell). My work involved creating a new data set from the original source and putting it through the model to see if it produced similar results.
Inspirations (for major, research, internship):
My dream is that developing a “general” artificial intelligence, one that can think and learn like a human does, can provide us with many solutions to the problems we face: energy, global warming, world hunger, overpopulation, and anything else we come across. The book “Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom, blog “Wait But Why” (www.waitbutwhy.com) by Tim Urban, along with a lot of science fiction and discussion of AI have been major inspirations for me.
Highlights (from courses/internship/research):
Many of my MU highlights come from the Honors College. It has given me an opportunity to do undergraduate research which not only has strengthened my desire to continue researching after graduation but has also given me valuable experience that future admissions or employers will see. Beyond the practical benefits, having the community of the Honors College has allowed me to network with so many other people and given me contacts that I otherwise would not have had.
Takeaway (from courses/internship/research):
My biggest takeaway from both my courses and research is that AI is hard. Even the most complicated AI’s like self-driving cars or speech recognition are trivial compared to the task of creating an entire brain. There is so much we don’t know about our own minds and how they work. Doing the type of research I’m doing will, if nothing else, teach us a lot more about consciousness, intelligence, and ourselves.
Advice (for incoming freshman in your shoes):
The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to get involved. Find groups with shared interests, attend events around campus. Perhaps more importantly, get involved in your classes. Get to know your professors, especially in your major. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or start discussions. The relationships you start here will be one of your greatest assets moving forward.
Aspirations (upon graduation):
I am currently researching various graduate programs in computational neuroscience to find one that best fits my interests and will be applying for them over the next two months. My goal is to obtain a Ph.D. and continue research at a university. This will also allow me to pursue my other passion, which is teaching others. I hope to one day be on the team that creates the first general AI, but even if that doesn’t happen I hope to contribute to the fields of neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and computer science.
What has been the most significant and/or exciting aspect of your work?
The most exciting part for me is the possibilities that my research opens up. The final goal of a human-level AI would be the most profound change that humanity would ever experience and, as some others have said, would be a new stage of evolution for our species.
Scholarships awarded while attending Millersville University
Honors Program Scholarship