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Communications of the ACM

Career paths in computing

How a Shopping Mall Trip Inspired Me to Work in Neuro-Symbolic AI

Asim Munawar

Credit: Twitter

I have always been fascinated by technology, probably because my father is an engineer. Eventually, I followed in his footsteps and became a computer engineer. I learned a lot about technology from my father. My favorite pastime as a kid was to play on computers with him on the weekends. I'll never forget the time—at just six years of age—when I was walking through a shopping mall and my father showed me a toy robot holding a tray and told me that very soon there will be actual robot helpers in our home working for us. In that very moment, I decided I wanted to work with computers. Unfortunately, after over 30 years, I'm still waiting for a robot to move in. The best robot helpers we have are vacuums. Even though we are not quite there yet, I believe that with today's AI technologies we have a clear path to lead us there.

My fascination with AI led me to computer science. I've found AI to be different from some other research fields in that we have a very efficient learning machine available to us—the human brain. We don't want to replicate the human brain exactly as it is, but it does serve as a huge source of inspiration.


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