Swiss Talent Forum

Ali Al-Ali attended the finals of The Big Bang UK Young Scientist & Engineers Competition in 2018 and showcased his fantastic project “Can You Trust AI with Your Life? An Investigation into the Time Complexity of Natural Deduction Proofing Systems in Time Critical AI Applications", which really impressed the judges. Ali later went on to represent the UK at the International Swiss Talent Forum (ISTF) – this took place in February in Switzerland and is a think-tank for students interested in the global and long-term challenges of our time. At the Forum, 70 international participants got the chance to meet like-minded peers and experts from business, science and politics. Find out more about Ali’s experience at the Forum and his future plans…

Hi, I’m Ali. I’m 18 and I recently got back from the International Swiss Talent Forum 2019 on Artificial Intelligence after competing in the UK finals of The Big Bang Competition 2018. I undertook my research project in the summer of 2017 after being chosen for a Nuffield Research Placement and I achieved a CREST Gold Award for it shortly after, so I decided to apply for the Big Bang Competition. My project investigated how long it would take an artificial intelligence to make decisions in time-critical situations (like driving a car or piloting a plane) and whether this time is short enough to be safe, by testing the efficiency of different algorithms. In short, the answer is: most likely (given that the algorithms are structured appropriate to their intended use). Competing at The Big Bang Competition Finals taught me a lot and it was very humbling to meet so many incredibly intelligent peers - it was truly a pleasure to walk around the stands and talk to them about their projects.

Perhaps the most valuable thing I gained from the finals however, was the opportunity to represent the UK at the International Swiss Talent Forum - it was honestly one of the best times of my life. I left it with so many friends from all around the world, who I already have plans to see again and I’ll never forget the nights we stayed up well into the early hours of the morning just chatting.

After completing my A levels in maths, further maths, physics and English literature last August, I took a gap year due to changing my mind as to which course I want to do at university. I plan on studying either Maths with Mathematical Physics at UCL or Physics with Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London in September. Either way, I’d like to eventually become a theoretical physicist and conduct research. However, competing in The Big Bang Competition has made me realise that I also have a passion for AI and I’m now consider going into quantum computing after my degree to pursue AI further as it’s a burgeoning field of research.

If you’re under 19 and you’ve done any sort of science or engineering project, I strongly urge you to give The Big Bang Competition a shot. It does add a fairly significant amount to your workload (especially if you’re in year 13 and applying to universities!) but don’t hesitate, it’s such a valuable experience. It not only looks fantastic on university applications, but also genuinely teaches you a lot of important skills such as communicating your work simply and efficiently, as well as making it engaging for the layman.


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