We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Van Belleghem and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, how do you think about risk?
As a computer scientist, it’s in my nature to be risk-averse. I evaluate the options and generate the most efficient path to my goals. Yet as a designer, I know it is important not to create systems that solely focus on forms of optimization when the definition of success is unclear.
The research I’ve done in the field of Artificial Intelligence shows prevalence for rational thinking that coincides with a materialistic definition of success. However, in favoring logic focused on maximizing wealth, we deny the emotional nature of human psychology. So in addressing high-risk circumstances, I try my best to include both logical and emotional aspects of thinking.
To achieve this, I ask myself as many questions as I can think of: What do I have to lose or gain? What is the likelihood of success? Can I take responsibility for the outcome and accept it for whatever it is? Oftentimes I’ll even consult Ray and Charles Eames’ Powers of Ten during different stages of questioning to ensure I’m keeping the bigger picture in mind. I find this process gives me confidence in my decision, and that certainty is necessary to keep moving forward.
In the end, I think the ability to assess risk is rooted in the understanding of yourself. What makes you happy? Where do your priorities lie? What makes it all worth it? If you can be honest with yourself in these answers, then it’s easier to make a choice.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a researcher focused within media arts and practice, I study the future of music technology. While I analyze current trends in media I also design, code, and fabricate new forms of music composition, distribution, and consumption. This can range anywhere from creating a VR experience that allows users to paint music in 3D-space, to manufacturing a prototype of multi-sensory speakers. Although seemingly independent, my previous experiences with software and hardware development in virtual space, light field technology, and human computer interaction have been crucial in navigating this interdisciplinary subject matter. In studying forms of human expression in conjunction with human factors and behavioral psychology, I aim to produce works that resonate and evoke emotion as well as simplify daily life and the creative process.
My studies cover a broad range of topics including how music interplays with recent developments in technology such as: advancements in streaming and social media, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence. I hope that by utilizing these new innovative techniques, I can create technology that enables musicians of any background the ability to compose and experience pieces unlike ever before.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Grand Central Market is one of my favorite places to eat downtown. When I first discovered it, I was overwhelmed with the broad range of cuisine options and the vibrancy of its atmosphere. If you’re in the downtown LA area I would definitely recommend it for a lunch run. For a fun beach day, Venice Beach is definitely my favorite to walk around and explore on the weekend. I’d also suggest visiting the Griffith Observatory for a great view of the city at night. Finally, I think catching a Hollywood Bowl performance is also key for a perfect LA trip!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to shoutout to a few of my close friends and mentors Sally Slade, Anthony Occidentale, and Dan Novy for their unending support and wisdom as I navigate the interdisciplinary world of music tech. Their guidance has been fundamental to my personal development and growth; I can’t thank them enough!
Miranda Due, Microsoft Women in AI and Mixed Reality Hackathon