Looking for Research Topics

I never have an idea to be a researcher, academically saying especially. But somehow, I want to collaborate with them. It’s interesting to get more knowledge from researcher’s perspective. Most researchers know deeply about their area of research since they are experts in their fields.

Personally, I’m not a researcher-type of person. I don’t like to read research papers either. It’s just too heavy for me and my brain cannot take it. So, to find some research topics, I had to look up into things that interest me. I’m usually interested in things related to human and technology. Because I think that they are what’s around us and happening now.

Below are some research topics that I’m really into it.


Future Technology for Health Care

To be honest, I have a goal to create products for health care. When I was in undergrad, I wrote a paper (yes, the only one that I wrote in my life, probably ever, since it was for a thesis) about creating mobile app to help students with hearing problems to learn English. And I really want to broaden my knowledge about health care from researchers, scientifically.

Nowadays, many cutting-edge technologies have been developed to help human life. Furthermore, in health-care field. Researchers have been combining different disciplines to design the next problem-solving technology: sounds, music, art, computer science, etc.

Sound can be used to diagnose Alzheimer, called sonification, the technology has been developed by Agnieszka Roginska, a professor of music technology in Steinhart. Ultrasound can help speech therapist, the study from Steinhart’s Tara McAllister Byun, an assistance professor of communicative science and disorder. Facial motion capture can help identifying differences between speech disorders, a study from Steinhart’s Maria Grigos.

There are many more out there that are being developed, especially in the United States. I believe that in the US, the process is more stable in inventing new technology: the design patterns, methodology, and cutting-edge technology. This is the opportunity for me to learn more about them, since I want to design products especially in health care.


Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence

I’ve been watching Netflix Black Mirror and it’s amazing. It really got my mind upside down to think about future technology that can be part of our future life, future human. Most of the episodes which captivated me are about Artificial Consciousness. Artificial Consciousness itself is a field related to Artificial Intelligence and Neuroscience.

In the past years, AI researchers have been trying to decode if it’s possible for computer to have consciousness. Even though it’s still far from knowing how it will occur, knowing the problems from “Cracking the Brain’s Codes“. From the AI side, researchers have been doing more research in Narrow AI and Deep Neural Network relating the Artificial Consciousness. It’s not something that is impossible. That’s what I got from reading “The Case for Artificial Consciousness“.

“Consciousness is possible when sensory, memory, attention, emotion and other subsystems are able to communicate and deeply influence each other, so any system that demonstrates consciousness must have a high degree of integration among its modules. Such integration is possible only when the subsystems are built on the basis (substrate) of similar algorithmic and representational mechanisms.”  The Author of this paper, Amol Kelkar

Meanwhile neuroscientists have been developed a theory called Integrated Information Theory,developed by Giulio Tononi at the University of Wisconsin. It defines the fundamental theory of consciousness, what it takes for the physical system to have it, and how the researchers can measure it. A researcher at MIT, Christof Koch, believes that this theory can predict how to build integrated consciousness.

“It says that consciousness is a property of complex systems that have a particular “cause-effect” repertoire. They have a particular way of interacting with the world, such as the brain does, or in principle, such as a computer could. If you were to build a computer that has the same circuitry as the brain, this computer would also have consciousness associated with it. It would feel like something to be this computer.”

It’s possible to create an Artificial Consciousness for machines, but still far away from creating experience for them. This rocket science technology is very interesting to be digged further. Will human life be much easier or threaten from this cutting-edge technology?


Human Behavior and Food

It’s always hard to learn about human. Because in my opinion, even though human can be an object, but most of the time they are the subjects. They can change depending on some factors, which are too many. But for me, since it’s hard, it’s also interesting to learn about human behavior.

There are researchers that study about human behavior especially relating to food. It’s true that food can change human mood. There’s a paper that I recently read “Better moods for better eating?: How mood influences food choice” by Meryl P. Gardner et al. It said that most recent studies showed that negative moods and positive moods may lead to preference for different types of foods. For example, people tend to eat hedonic food when they are sad, and less-hedonic food when they are happy. There’s a correlation between human mood and the choice of food they are eating.

Not just creating human moods, but food can also growing human-human relationship. A paper titled “A recipe for friendship: Similar food consumption promotes trust and cooperation” by Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach from University of Chicago said that food serves as a particularly strong cue of trust compared with other incidental similarity.

The study support our theory that similar food consumption increases closeness and trust between strangers, and that this occurs when similarity is incidental and does not imply similar preferences. Overall, we find that people perceive incidental similarity in food consumption as sending a stronger signal of trust than similarity in shirt color. This suggests food similarity is a powerful cue for inferring trust, even among third-party observers.

It’s interesting how food can actually drag human behavior. Meanwhile we don’t realize the power of food, and just eat it without any purpose, but actually can shape how we really are. Also, it will be interesting to learn more from food scientist what can food really do in human life.

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