I am born as 2nd daughter in rather academic family, full of energy and with a continuous smile. At kindergarten, mainly design and early math classes are getting my full attention. Outside school, my passion for research and creativity are going hand-in-hand. My "inventions" to improve the world are heavily inspired by my world of Lego and Matchbox cars. Some of them still serve me today.
“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.” (Carl Jung)
At primary school, behaving differently was to me the new normal as content of the courses became more abstract. A struggle for relevance started and the need for attention increased. Innovation in new learning and reasoning techniques were autodidact, with some nightmares for teachers and parents as a result. My free time was spent in finding patterns in life around myself and in "studying" the almighty brain. Scouting activities and music classes gave me the freedom to think, play and imagine a different world.
“Don’t be like the rest of them darling.” (Coco Chanel)
A very first introduction in ICT entered my life through a present bought by my parents, a Texas Instruments 99/4A, our first homecomputer: 48 kbytes internal memory. Programming was done in basic and results were loaded on 90 minutes cassettes, just like our music. All free time available went to the optimisation of the delivered programs (Who remembers Pacman & Frogger?) and the creation of new games. I just loved it! During summer holidays, my preferred occupation was to entertain disabled people, a world that seemed to understand me better than anybody else...
"Creativity is intelligence having fun" (A. Einstein)
Some experts doubted about my success rate for higher studies, given my marks and my continues desire to play. "Electro-Mechanical Engineering" at the KIHO (Belgium) became my first choice. Impressed by the German robotics industry during my Erasmus stop, I decided to continue my "Civil Engineering” studies in "Technical Cybernetics" at the University of Stuttgart. This was also the first moment where AI entered my life. My thesis was on the use of "Neural Nets in the Prediction of Energy Consumption", a topic still very valid today. Combining my passion for the brain and ICT seemed like a dream come true!
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone" (Unknown)
I left to New-Zealand to start a PhD in AI in the Computer Science Department at the University of Auckland. AI was booming and I enjoyed exciting times writing research papers and travelling around the world. Unfortunately, my PhD stopped due to misalignment between my academic belief and the medical world. Switching from a PhD position to a private IT career seemed the most logical step. Unexpectedly, this change was more interesting than anticipated. With the arrival of the internet, digitalisation was born and the race for ICT talent had started. In the mean time, AI went into a winter sleep.
“Live as though life was created for you” (M. Angelou)
After spending years at major software companies, it was time to go back to my roots. Due to the growth of major platform players, AI entered a new summer. The academic discipline was exchanged into a marketing buzzword, with all risks involved. At SAS, I combined during 10 years my IT knowledge with my AI passion. In 2019, I decided to take-up the AI Director role at imec, a top research company famous for nanotech and digital solutions. Taking ownership of the future AI roadmap and translating AI between engineering and business became my full-time focus since.
"Your future is created by what you do today, not tomorrow” (R. Kiyosaki)
In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic affected almost everything in our world. Although the idea of writing a book to demystify AI was already a fact, the lockdown turned the writing into an intense moment of self-reflection: Haven’t I been focussing too much on the profit AI systems generate? Did I think about enough about the impact on people & planet? Did we, engineers, make enough effort to translate AI in a transparent way? The Dutch version of my book was launched in November 2020 and 3 translations (French, English and German) soon followed. Today I build, as a Strategic Advisor and Adj Professor, bridges between business, research and government in the domain of AI.
"Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground." (T. Roosevelt)