Another important observation was that the companies are thinking about the purpose and influence that the AI technologies will cause. ‘AI is like a black box. Nobody really knows what’s happening inside. But companies are taking a step forward to comprehend what’s inside this black box,’ Balasubramaniam says.
According to her, companies want the designers, developers and other experts to know why the machine is suggesting a specific recommendation as well as to measure the impact made by the AI solution. ‘They want to make sure the impact is positive – not just for the end user but on a broader society level as well.’
With the doctoral studies, the project team members are aiming to include more companies to the research project and take the interviews to a deeper level.
‘The kind of learning experience everyone should have’
Looking back Balasubramaniam feels studying at Aalto University has been extremely flexible without the pressure to select particular courses or collect credits.
‘Back in India we had to complete eight courses in a semester. Here I had the flexibility and I completed the courses with a slower pace. It was a good thing; I feel like I learned the topics profoundly. I think that’s the kind of learning experience everyone should have,’ Balasubramaniam says.
Balasubramaniam also praises the professors for being very helpful and friendly. ‘If you have any difficulties, they’re there to help. For example, when I joined, Marjo Kauppinen told us that her office door is always open and you can come and ask whatever questions you have.’ Balasubramaniam took a few opportunities to meet her professor to talk about her course selection.
Balasubramaniam underscores that the professors seemed to be interested in the students also on a human level, asking how they are doing and are they adapting to Finland.
Aalto University also gets positive feedback for the university’s cross- disciplinary approach. ‘I was positively surprised about the cross-disciplinary projects and teaching at Aalto University. I worked with people who are business students – and their perception is totally different! It was eye opening for me.’
Studying at Aalto has also facilitated a new kind of social life. Balasubramaniam now has friends from Turkey, Italy, Mexico, and the Nordics. ‘I never thought I’d be able to mingle easily with people from other cultures. I’m glad I’ve managed to make good friends whilst in Finland.’
As Balasubramaniam does not drink alcohol, she has attended less the student parties – but has organized a lot of dinners and get-togethers at home instead. ‘I love to cook, and I cook a lot. I’ve managed to get all the ingredients that I’d need for my Indian cooking here from the various Asian shops.’
Having lived in Finland for some years, Balasubramaniam has started to appreciate the quietness and the space. When visiting home in India, the constant noise irritates her. ‘I’m so used to the quietness and people not poking you. In India when going anywhere, it’s usually pretty noisy. And I’m used to the punctuality of Finland.’
Authored by Hanne-Mari Tarvonen