SETI Talks: AI - Augmenting humanity for good

SETI Talks

Tags: SETI Talks, AI and Machine Learning, Frontier Development Lab

Time: Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022 -

Location: Online

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is probably one of the most revolutionary developments in human history, and the world is already witnessing its transformative capabilities. Like most great inventions by humans (e.g., nuclear energy), it has two sides, a side that could be used maliciously and a positive one that powers cutting-edge solutions to our problems and will help our technological civilization.

There have been significant breakthroughs in AI, which have allowed machines to process and analyze information to learn on their own in a very sophisticated manner. AI algorithms are everywhere today.

AI holds potential for humanity in many domains, from automation of tedious tasks to weather forecasting, disaster mitigation and response and health care. To discuss the benefit of AI for humanity at large, we invited two specialists in this field of research with decades of expertise in using AI. Siddha Ganju and Alex Lavin, both engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs, have also contributed to the Frontier Development Lab (FDL). FDL is a public-private partnership between NASA, the SETI Institute, Trillium Technologies and leaders in commercial AI, space exploration and Earth Science dedicated to finding solutions to complex problems linked with space exploration using AI.

James Parr, Founder and CEO of Trillium Technologies, an FDL partner, will moderate this discussion. The conversation will describe how networked AI can amplify human effectiveness by performing complex tasks such as complex decision-making, reasoning and learning, sophisticated analytics and pattern recognition, visual acuity, speech recognition and language translation. Of course, these AI specialists share deep worries on the use of AI and will suggest pathways to mitigate negative impacts and threats of this innovative and already omnipresent technology.


This SETI Talks is sponsored by Carl Kruse, Chair of the Princeton Alumni Association of Germany.

SETI Talks are presented to our audience at no cost and are supported by contributions from supporters like you. If you are interested in sponsoring a future SETI Talks, please email us at .

Alex Lavin

Alexander Lavin is a world-leading AI researcher and software engineer, specializing in probabilistic machine learning, scientific computing, and human-centric AI systems. He is the Founder and Chief Technologist of Pasteur Labs (with non-profit arm Institute for Simulation Intelligence), a public-benefit "focused research organization" aiming to reshape the scientific method for the machine age, building novel technologies to synergize AI and simulation in areas such as climate, synbio, nuclear energy, and more. Lavin has explored AI and probabilistic computation via several perspectives: theoretical neuroscience and online learning with Numenta, general intelligence in robotics and computer vision with Vicarious AI, predictive medicines as the founder of Latent Sciences (acquired), Earth systems and climate with NASA as a lead with the Frontier Development Lab, and mobile robotics with Astrobotic. Lavin earned his Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon, a Masters in Engineering Management with Duke University, and Bachelors in Mech & Aero Engineering at Cornell University. He has won several awards for work in rocket science and space robotics, published in top journals and conferences across AI/ML and neuroscience, and was an honoree for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in Science and the Patrick J. McGovern Tech for Humanity Prize. In his free time, Lavin enjoys running, yoga, live music, and reading sci-fi and theoretical physics books.

Siddha Ganju

Siddha Ganju, who Forbes featured in their 30 under 30 list, is a Self-Driving and Healthcare Architect at Nvidia. Previously at Deep Vision, she developed deep learning models for resource constraint edge devices.

A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, her prior work ranges from Visual Question Answering to Generative Adversarial Networks to gathering insights from CERN's petabyte-scale data and has been published at top-tier conferences including CVPR and NeurIPS.

Siddha authored O'Reilly's 600-page book on Practical Deep Learning for Cloud, Mobile, and Edge. With its strong reception, the book is being translated into five languages, all in less than a year of publication.

Serving as an AI domain expert, she has also been guiding teams at NASA as well as featured as a jury member in several international tech competitions. She has been an invited speaker and keynote speaker at multiple conferences and was the Youth Women's Representative for India, 2013 at IET. Siddha is also a member of the Open Leadership Cohort, Mozilla Science Lab.