Computer Science + Linguistics

If you select a second-choice major other than the Division of General Studies on your application, write a second essay explaining your interest in this major, too. Again, limit your response to 300 to 400 words.

“I’m afraid. Dave, my mind is going,” pleaded HAL 9000 in a monotone voice. Although I was aware of artificial intelligence, watching 2001: A Space Odyssey as a sophomore was the catalyst to my interest in this controversial field.

Specifically, the study of linguistics and its application to computer science fascinates me. With the influx of chatbots, I decided to try talking to Woebot and Eliza, therapy chatbots. I first heard about Woebot after a Stanford researcher discovered that chatting with the bot reduced depressive symptoms in just two weeks. I talked to both Woebot and Eliza, and was immediately aware of the stark differences between how they communicated. While Eliza’s speech was cold and formal, Woebot communicated in an upbeat tone, and soon, I found myself preferring to talk to Woebot.

The way Woebot communicated felt like the way my friends typed, a fact that intrigued me. I used to believe artificial intelligence was like Hal, completely monotone, but talking to Woebot inspired my interest in learning and applying the principles of human conversation to computer science, particularly the nuances involved. Although Woebot was, by far, more user-friendly than Eliza, it’s still learning human nuances and emotions....

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