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Imagine if we could bridge the gap between minds and computers. Imagine a world where the whole of humanity’s knowledge will no longer be available just at our fingertips, but instead it will be directly available to us in the same intimate and immediate way as we access information stored in our own brains. This will take away the need to spend countless precious years training every young mind to imbibe an ever expanding wealth of facts that quickly go obsolete. Instead, it will bring the focus during those critical years on reasoning, critical thinking, creativity and the acquisition of skills and abilities.

But in order to bring this future to fruition we first need to understand the specific neural code with which semantic information is stored in the brain and the precise mechanisms through which it is retrieved on demand so that later on we can engineer a system that can take advantage of those mechanisms. Whether I will see this future realized during my lifetime is anybody’s best guess, but I have decided to dedicate my work and efforts to help make it a reality.

I am currently a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon University and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition with Prof. Lynne Reder. My research focuses on how prior knowledge affects the acquisition of new information with the goal of developing and testing an integrated computational model of episodic and semantic memory.

I publish under my full name, Vencislav Popov, but Ven is easier to say and remember, and as people have noted, “Oh, Ven, like a venn diagram!”

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