TEDxAUCollege | The intriguing concept of genetic algorithms
paged,page-template,page-template-blog-masonry,page-template-blog-masonry-php,page,page-id-23635,page-child,parent-pageid-21779,paged-2,page-paged-2,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-2.4.1,vertical_menu_enabled,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.3,vc_responsive

The intriguing concept of genetic algorithms

-Ru Khan

If you’ve ever delved into the realm of science fiction, then you might be pretty familiar with the concept of autonomous machines–killer robots that have broken free from the will of their creators. While it may seem far-fetched, autonomous machines are a near reality with genetic algorithms to pave the way.  But what are genetic algorithms?

All AI are based on algorithms that dictate their actions. However, genetic algorithms allow their actions to evolve – they are essentially self-modifying algorithms. Genetic algorithms bring machines to a closer level to humans, as they require experience for self-improvement and to better adapt to their environment. Take a self-driving car for example: in order to drive better, the cars must drive more instead of relying on humans for reprogramming. With the right programming, driverless cars can be optimized to protect their passengers.

Now here’s a curious question: could genetic algorithms allow a machine to evolve to the point of self-awareness? There is no definite answer, but the implications of this possible scenario are numerous. What if we were to program a survival element into a machine through genetic programming? Already, driverless cars will require programming to survive accidents, but what about autonomous weapons? What if machines were self-aware enough to sense our dissatisfaction with them? Would they feel threatened, thus triggering their survival instincts to work against the human race? This scenario sounds dangerously close to Skynet­, the AI hive mind you might know from the Terminator franchise.

While this sounds terrifying, yet intriguing, it is doubtful that the destruction of humanity will be at the hands of killer robots. Instead, other consequences will arise from the development of autonomous machines. Highly skilled and capable AI will create a new workforce in the form of machinery–manufacturing jobs, and other menial tasks will no longer be human work. But AI won’t solely be restricted to menial labor. Sophisticated AI could be used to diagnose patients as well, possibly rendering human doctors obsolete. Already, AI is being developed for medical diagnosis (think back to our last salon event!).  Some experts argue that the use of AI in the medical field will not take humans out of the picture, but rather just transform their role.

It is interesting, as well as daunting, to make predictions about what genetic algorithms in AI will bring. However, for now all is yet to be decided. Learning machines and decision-making machines are concerning to many, yet these machines have the potential to improve lives. And while they will have a significant impact on human employment, AI also has the ability to elevate the efficiency of certain tasks. In the meantime, we just have driverless cars to look forward to.

Mark van der Heijden | The digital nomad

“I’m here to tell you how to become the best Thai gardener the world has ever seen…


… Not really, but if you want to go that way – let me know, I can hook you up”



With a slightly depressing story about cycling in the rain, Mark van der Heijden immediately grabs the attention of the Amsterdam audience.


Mark: “I really thought, is this it? Is this going to be it for the rest of my life? No, it wasn’t.” He discovered his vocation as ‘The Backpacker Intern’.


In his talk, he pleads for a ‘digital nomad’ lifestyle, which allows to combine traveling the world and gaining a living. As a digital nomad “your daily routine is different. Every day is an adventure.”


“By travelling and going out there, I got to know so many interesting people. The barriers between human beings started to disappear. While we may not be the same culturally speaking, we are all connected. The more people you know, the more you know yourself. All of us are on this journey of life. Imagine a life where your root to life is always different. Along the way, it won’t always be easy. You’ll face fears, but ultimately, you’ll discover that the final destination is yourself.”

Let’s stare!

Tonight’s host Reinier Demeijer challenges us to pay less attention to screens – which is indeed challenging to most of us! “Please put your phone away and look one minute in your neighbours eyes,” says Reinier. What follows is some awkward laughing, but then a dedicated audience takes up the challenge and puts down their phone. Let’s stare!


The doors are open, the crowds are pouring in and our speakers are roaring to go.

Welcome to the TEDx AUCollege Live blog – welcome to #TheFifthDimension.

INTERVIEW: How Mexican Culture Opens Discussions on Death

With only a few hours remaining until the start of this year’s TEDxAUCollege event, please take a moment with us and read this interview with Martha Montero-Sieburth. This teacher of Amsterdam University College and the University of Amsterdam will introduce ‘death’ as a fifth dimension. In her words: the unknown, undefined, and undiscovered. Red Pers’ writer Keeke van Paassen spoke with her about her diverse cultural background, decades old Mexican traditions, and losing your beloved ones.

Hoe Mexicaanse cultuur het gesprek over de dood opent

INTERVIEW: Last Year’s Pitch Night Winner Saga Norrby

We’re less than eight hours away from TEDxAUCollege presents The Fifth Dimension. From 18:00 on, eight speakers will give their TED-talks in the KIT Royal Tropical Institute. Two of them are the winners of this year’s Pitch Night, Ella MacLaughlin and Mick ter Reehorst. It is a tradition for TEDxAUCollege to give students a chance to pitch their TED-talks. Last year, AUC student Saga Norrby won with her unique stance on climate change. Red Pers interviewed her recently, on year after her TED-talk. What did TEDxAUCollege bring for her and what has she been doing since last year’s edition? Read the (Dutch) article below.

Saga Norrby en het jaar sinds haar TED-talk


INTERVIEW: the winners of the Pitch Night 2018

Tomorrow is the day we have all been waiting for: TEDxAUCollege presents The Fifth Dimension will kick off tomorrow at 18:00 in the KIT Royal Tropical Institute. TEDxAUCollege will partner up with Are We Europe (AWE) and Red Pers to bring you a live coverage of the event. However, before we take off with that, we would like to look back at an interview with the winners of this year’s Pitch Night, Ella MacLaughlin and Mick ter Reehorst. The interview was conducted by Laurien Knorringa and Sarah Borgerdijn, two writers from Red Pers.

TEDxAUCollege: waar vorm en inhoud samenkomen