Society, nature and travel are the themes of the poetry that Poulami Sinhamahapatra writes in her free time, in both English and Hindi. She has always been an avid reader, so this came very naturally to her: “Once I think of an idea, I can write a poem in 10 or 20 minutes.” Similarly, Poulami developed an interest in mathematics and natural sciences at an early age. She uses science to develop creative solutions to real-world problems, which also helps her in her poetry.
At Fraunhofer IKS, the 28-year-old focuses her research on safe artificial intelligence (AI). Her interest in AI began during her time as a master’s student at RWTH Aachen. Her research on robust AI applications and AI safety is a challenge in itself, she says, but also a great experience. When asked what the best thing about science is, Poulami replies: “It makes our lives easier. Whatever we need, we can simply write a piece of code that does it for us.” She still remembers her first programming project: a personal pocket calculator. As a child, Poulami read a lot of science fiction; her earliest inspiration was the author of the novel Jurassic Park. She feels as though that is the kind of work she is doing now, but in real life rather than fantasy – she’s truly living her childhood dream.
Science and poetry
She has published her poetry and articles in blogs, social media, university magazines and a volume of poems that was recently published in India. She likes to reflect on life, and tries to explain social behavior through her poems. The combination of creative writing and AI research is both surprising and fascinating. The fields are bound together by Poulami’s creative streak and her urge to create things and to develop new ideas. She also makes use of this skill when she and her friends are exploring and combining different international styles of cooking together. As well as all this, Poulami loves to travel, discover new places and meet different kinds of people.
Despite her creative side, in her professional life Poulami prefers to focus on logic and rationality. She considers science and research into AI her primary task. “Of course, it feels nice when my poems are published or if even just a couple of people can identify with them.” About her research work, she says: “It’s fun when the ideas work. They don’t always work, and that’s part of it too, but there’s always something to be learned and taken from it.” When her ideas do work, however, Poulami writes them down in a paper – making her an author not just in the world of literature, but in science too.
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