3 minute read

2018 Year in Review

Reflections on my AI Journey and other things. The Good, the tough, the next.
It really was the year I got to really engage with AI — learning (conferences, self study, writing), projects, and engaging with the community.

In 2018, a big part of my goal was to spend more time working on projects at the intersection of my main area of training (HCI) and AI. To do this, my strategy was to aggressively embrace learning opportunities, work on new projects and engage with the AI community (conferences ... and Twitter!).

This year I ..

The Good: Learning, Writing, Recognition

Stubbornly engaged with new material this year.


Confession: The self-taught "deep learner"

While I do have a PhD in Information Systems (with courses in stats and data analysis needed for social science research), much of my education in deep learning has been online and self-directed (see an interesting discussion on this here). In no particular order, I am indebted to courses like CS231n (Convolutional Neural Networks for Visual Recognition), the Coursera deeplearning.ai specialization, Pytorch Scholarship Challenge on Udacity, a slew of well written papers published on arxiv and generous authors who provided sample code for their projects. The self learning journey is still very much in progress.

With some new friends from the Deep Learning Indaba 2018 Machine Learning summer school held in South Africa..


I found conference to be a great way to engage with new concepts and build intuition. Applied AI, in many ways, is a highly experimental discipline with MANY moving parts. I found intuition to be the glue that keeps it all together. At first, some concepts felt foreign. Repeated engagement during conference sessions made them more familiar, and then intuitive. To further engage with material I encountered, I took notes and wrote a blog post on all 7 conferences I attended. I only managed to clean up and publish 4 of those notes ---[AAAINVIDIA GTCJupyterCon, and Deep Learning Indaba]. I also served as an area reviewer for AAAI (HCI area) program committee for NeuRIPS blackinAI group and a few other conferences.


I got to meet wonderful individuals at many of these conferences and found new appreciation for all the hardwork that goes into organizing communities. Particularly the Black in AIDeep Learning Indaba and Twitter community have been amazing. Twitter was a great way to keep track of conversations, filter important research papers and learn about opportunities.


This year, I shared some code - https://github.com/victordibia


This year had some really happy moments where my work was recognized. I was one of 200 invited young researchers at the 2018 Heidelberg Laureate Forum where I facilitated a workshop; our work AAAI paper was recognised with a best demo paper award and our paper at IEEVis VDS was recognised by a best paper honorable mention award.

The Tough - Rejections

This year, I also got a slew of rejections. I was not accepted at several summer school applications (CIFAR, JEJU, PAISS... and others), turned down by the Harvard BKC center for the 2018 fellowship program, unsuccessful at a few project/grant submissions and had at least 3 papers rejected this year .. amongst other things. As an academic, paper rejections are expected from time to time. But it still stings every-time.

The Next - Onward to 2019

2018 has been amazing. Cheers to all the things that worked out, and thankful for all the lessons from things that did not.

I hope to double down on the same focus areas --- work on more projects, build expertise in Applied AI and contribute more to the community (tutorials, code, talks, community service). I will also be spending more time with family and physical fitness!

Cheers to the new year!

Interested in more articles like this? Subscribe to get a monthly roundup of new posts and other interesting ideas at the intersection of Applied AI and HCI.

RELATED POSTS | personal, reflections, year-in-review

Read the Newsletter.

I write a monthly newsletter on Applied AI and HCI. Subscribe to get notified on new posts.

Feel free to reach out! Twitter, GitHub, LinkedIn