Victoria came from a non-computer science background when she applied for a DeepMind Scholarship.
Having moved to London from the Netherlands to study psychology for her undergraduate degree, Victoria is now a DeepMind Scholar pursuing a Masters in Artificial Intelligence at Imperial College London. Her research brings her two specialisms together, looking at the degree of trust that people place in AI predictions, and how that changes under different scenarios. When she’s not studying, she likes to knit, play piano and practice parkour.
The DeepMind scholarship programme is a great way to get insight into what's happening in industry. Anyone can benefit from the mentorship and skill sessions DeepMind offers, regardless of their background. You definitely won't be the only scholar from a non-computer science background!"
In conversation with Victoria
What made you decide to get a Masters in AI?
I studied Psychology at UCL for my undergraduate degree. It was very research-based, which I liked, and I was mainly interested in cognitive neuroscience, which is about things like how the brain processes language, how it makes decisions. Towards the end of that degree, I realised I wanted to go more in the direction of human-computer interaction and, particularly, human-AI interaction. The interaction of psychology, neuroscience and AI is super-interesting to me! I can't wait to see how we can improve AI with neuroscience. And vice-versa, what AI-driven techniques can teach us about the brain.
How did the scholarship impact your journey to Imperial?
Before applying for the Masters, I had to think about money and how I was going to fund it, and at that point the Covid crisis was emerging. A couple of weeks after I was accepted onto the programme I got an email about the scholarship. My grandparents had been supporting my study at UCL and they have a bricks-and-mortar shoe business, which has suffered during the crisis. When I got the news that I’d won the scholarship I invited them for cake, and they didn’t know why. We cycled to a little café near where I live in the Netherlands, and then I presented them with the news about winning the scholarship, and they got very excited as well!
Tell us about your experience with your mentor.
My mentor went to UCL as well; he did the Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience and then a PhD, all at UCL. It’s been really interesting hearing about how he got to DeepMind after studying cognitive neuroscience. We speak about once a month, but I can email him whenever - he’s very available.
I didn’t think it would be this useful to have a mentor but it’s really nice to have someone external to the academic world, and hearing about a more industry-focused experience.
Why do you think it's important to broaden the representation in computer sciences and AI?
What you discover doing psychology is that a lot of research in the past has been by and on white males, which misses out most people in the world! And looking at my lecturers, there don’t seem to be many women in AI. But all of the DeepMind scholars at Imperial are women. So representation is important, and it’s great that the scholarships are supporting women and other underrepresented groups.
What other benefits are there to the scholarship?
I came to Imperial not knowing anyone. When I found out who the other DeepMind scholars were I got in contact and have made a couple of really good friends. It’s been really nice talking to other girls with a similar background to mine.
The other really cool thing has been the DeepMind events. One of them was with a panel of the more senior DeepMinders. They explained how they got to DeepMind, and discussed the future of AI. Being able to ask questions of people who are really influential in the industry was very cool.