‘Wilberforce Watch’: Daniel Hurt, Editor

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This week, we caught up with Daniel Hurt, the Editor of policy paper ‘Navigating AI (Artificial Intelligence) through the 21st Century’. We asked about how he first got involved with the Society and how he was able to use his specialist knowledge as a medical student by participating in the Society.


Hello. So when did you first become involved in TWS?

I went to TWS’s freshers squash the very first week I arrived in Cambridge [2013], where I was very interested by the society. I since went to their annual conference that year and several other smaller events, before becoming actively involved in the summer of 2015.

How have you continued taking part in the Society? Have you served on the Committee?

I have only been an editor, though have attended more events since that role ended. I would definitely consider joining the Committee in future.

Yes, you should definitely consider joining the Committee in future. In fact, the Society is trying to find new ways to encourage engagement from graduate students. How did the Artificial Intelligence paper come into being; was it suggested by you? Did it provide a good opportunity to use your specialist knowledge, being as you are a medic?

TWS emailed its mailing list with a list of topics it was interested in producing policy papers on, one of which was ‘robotics and automation’. I replied saying that I would be interested in the topic, particularly in AI safety. One section of the paper was on healthcare, and I was able to apply some knowledge to that, though my interests in technology helped contribute towards all the sections. Certainly everyone on the team had some specialist knowledge to contribute, either to their own section or to another.

What have you enjoyed the most about being part of TWS?

The people, particularly those on my team. I’ve rarely met a group so dedicated, enthusiastic and capable as the people who I wrote the paper with. It was always a pleasure to meet with them, and always bred interesting discussions even outside of the paper itself.

What benefits can students derive from being part of the Society?

The scope to develop soft skills like leadership, teamwork, communication and so on are second to none against everything else available in Cambridge (at least that I’ve come into contact with). It improved my confidence in coordinating a team and delegating tasks enormously, which is valuable in Medicine and almost all fields. Additionally it is a valuable academic experience to research and write in detail on a topic that isn’t the subject you’re studying. After producing the paper I felt that I could make some contribution to a far greater breadth of fields, and that my academic interests didn’t have to be confined to Medicine. It’s also a great chance to network, both with people within the society and conference delegates. Our team was invited to one of the three most prestigious AI conferences in the world, and has developed valuable links in government and industry. It’s also great for CVs I think!

Thank you for your time.