From the time she was a youngster, Samantha Stahlke had a keen fascination for computers. Born in Oshawa and growing up in Whitby, Samantha remembers her family’s first personal computer.
“I was about four and it was an iMac G3,” says Stahlke. “I loved it, spending hours reading encyclopedias off CDs, playing games, making art and browsing the web. I can probably trace my initial spark of interest in artificial intelligence (AI) to that period.”
She and two classmates founded their own startup company, Ominous Games, as University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) undergrads. She won the Governor General’s Academic Silver Medal for highest average and won the Faculty of Business and Information Technology medal.
Now working on a master’s degree in computer science at UOIT, Samantha has won a prestigious scholarship from Vector Institute to study artificial intelligence.
“AI has the potential to revolutionize society in the same way the Internet did in the 1990s,” says Stahlke. “With AI, we are effectively willing into existence a partner to solve every open challenge that’s out there. The largest challenges facing us right now are ethical rather than technical, issues of privacy and eliminating biases from artificial systems.
“There will come a time when the AI discussion turns to the definition of sentience (the ability to feel), what it means to be human and how we should treat our artificial counterparts. These are issues that I don’t want to blindside us.”
Photo: Samantha Stahlke (centre) with academic dignitaries at UOIT convocation, June 2018