‘We find solutions to social problems using artificial intelligence’

| February 24, 2017

Lucas Hu uses game theory and computer science to fight wildlife poachers, end homelessness, and prevent teen suicide

Lucas Hu at the Daily Dose with fellow Good-Doer Nikki Bisarya Photo/ George Sampson

Major: Bachelors of Science ’20, Computer Science and Business Administration

Project: Teamcore – Machine Learning for Wildlife Conservation with UAVs

Mission: Designing more comprehensive and utilitarian A.I.

I grew up in Palo Alto, California, going on hikes with friends, playing Little League baseball, and cheering for Bay Area sports teams – nothing too crazy. Now a freshman at USC, I study Computer Science and Business Administration, helping out in Professor Milind Tambe’s artificial intelligence research lab, Teamcore. My current research includes labeling footage to train a drone to automatically detect animals and poachers. We use neural networks and game theory to help wildlife patrols outsmart criminals looking to make a profit in the illegal wildlife trade. Outside of class, I play club frisbee and am on the E-Board for Scholars Leading Scholars, an organization dedicated to providing mentorship to local high school students. I also helped found CAIS++, the student branch for USC’s Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society (CAIS). Our initial projects focus on ending homelessness, fighting substance abuse, preventing suicide, improving access to health care, social responses to global climate change, reducing gang violence, and protecting wildlife. By bringing together students from Engineering and Social Work, our organization aims to promote the development of A.I. applications for social good.

In his own words

Lucas Hu was drawn to A.I. for more than just its WOW factor. Take a listen:

My mantra: Leave the world a little better than you found it

I do what I do because: I believe that new technologies can and should be used to benefit everyone in society, especially the less fortunate

Mentor(s): Professor Milind Tambe, upperclassmen and graduate students

Perfect Day: sleep in, brunch at a nice local spot, pick-up basketball in the afternoon, explore the city in the evening

Soundtrack to my life: In Rainbows by Radiohead

Greatest failure: accidentally hitting an expensive chandelier in my friend’s house while playing catch indoors, causing it to fall and shatter

Proudest moment: convincing my parents to get us a dog

If I weren’t an engineer, I’d be a: food critic (one can dream)

My alarm: the sound of trucks coming in and out of McCarthy Way

I don’t leave home without my: water bottle

My inspiration: mom and dad

My favorite Trojan memory: watching us win the Rose Bowl!

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Nikki Bisarya – coding to treat addiction

Deepika Bodapati – revolutionizing medicine