Good Fellows: Saška Mojsilovic

Good Fellows: Saška Mojsilovic

I never really thought I’m going to be a
scientist. I thought I’m going to be an artist so I
told it to my parents and my Dad said, “ Well you can be anything you want but just make
sure that when you’re broke and penniless we are not going to be paying your bills!” So I went to the engineering school at the
University of Belgrade. My PhD was about teaching computers to see. Specifically teach computers to diagnose cancer
from ultrasound images. People from Bell Labs saw my work and it just
so happened that they needed exactly that kind of expertise that’s how I came to the
states. I am a data scientist I build solutions. for all kinds of things. Data is like a play-doh. You actually mold it into something that is
completely brilliant like you create an insight or a decision. If you can put it in a formula that means
you can put it in a code and if you can put it in a code that means you can essentially
teach the computer to do things that people can do. You are teaching the computer to behave or
make decisions like humans. That’s the story of progress. You can use information to drive better outcomes. I come from a country that was called Yugoslavia
and it had six republics. When the war happened, it fell apart and I
grew up in a country that does not exist anymore. What we felt was really the economic devastations. No gas, no heating. Sometimes, no food. Its not like I went through that and it defined
me. It actually just really made me more resilient. It made me stronger. Today I call myself a Serb. But I’m equally Croatian, and Slovenian,
and Macedonian, and Bosnian. And you know the truth is not on the left
or right or black and white. It’s always somewhere; it’s like a spectrum
of grays. Sometimes I go back and forth on Humanity. I mean I have nine-year-old daughter and I
really think about am I going to worry about the kind of world she is going to be living
in. My key motivation in doing data science for
social good. Obviously one thing is to do projects and
to create technologies that help the world. But you know every project is really just
a tiny little step towards solving the problem and hopefully you create that culture of doing
good. There is this growing movement in data mining
and machine learning and data science and data analytics about using our skills in data
analytics to help the world. We created data science for social good fellowships. We worked with MGOs or Social Enterprises
or Public Sector agencies to identify some of their most pressing challenges that might
call for new technologies. And then we bring in student fellows. We also ask IBMers to volunteer their skills. By bringing these kids here we’re raising
a generation of scientists that have these values. The things that actually make me the happiest
it’s that process of working and getting your hands dirty. It’s like meditation. Young people tend to believe that happiness
comes from really big moments. But you know when you wake up in the morning
and your code works, it’s glorious. One of the most profound thoughts from Yoga
is when Lord Krishna tells Arjuna “you have right to work but you don’t have right to
the fruits of your work.” It is journey that matters and not the destination. If you design your work or your life for that
outcome and if the outcome is what you worry about you essentially miss the entire journey
and missed your life. A great part of this society and culture is
founded in trying to own the outcome of your work and being measured by our titles. And I don’t think it’s what makes you
happy. A couple of years ago, every employee was
asked to spend like 40 hours on something they have not done before. And I figured I’m actually social media
disaster. So I figured OK, I can cook and I guess I
can photograph so let me try to start a blog and maybe it will make me a little bit better. Saveur runs this food blog awards, I was a
finalist in best photography. And last year I also won International Association
of Culinary Professionals. I won for best writing, which is kind of shocking
given that I’m not a native speaker. I was nominated for the James Beard Award
which I thought was really, really huge. When you do something you like and you don’t
worry about the outcome there is a good chance you might be doing something that is of a
good quality. I think that is important if I worried about
getting awards or if I am going to sign deals or something I would probably be putting out
pretty crappy things.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Could not agree more on the comment about enjoying the journey and efforts as opposed to the fruits of action

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