These are my answers to questions I got in some job/program applications.

What problems are you passionate about and want to solve? Why do you want do so? What do you feel is broken and you're uniquely capable of taking a stab at fixing?

Two problems I’m “aggressively” passionate about: 1) mental health, and 2) learning/education.

As for mental health, the problem I'm trying to solve is not about providing health care, is not about reducing the cost, is not about utilizing technology, is not about using AI, is not about "giving" support at all. I'm not on the "provider" side, rather, I'm on the "receiver" side or as I like to call it the "struggler" side. I'm interested more in "enabling" them to "express" their "struggles". There are plenty of resources, facilities, doctors, therapists, apps, games...etc but these solutions assume that the strugglers already know and can express their feelings and emotions, which is not always the case.

As for learning/education, I’ve always been frustrated with the traditional educational system and the way we learn and perceive learning in all levels, ages, and aspects. I can talk forever about this topic but I will share 4 questions I think about:

  1. When does “learning” happen?
  2. It's unfortunate & sad that using your degree as a measure to show how reliable you are is no longer valid. I rarely hear people saying, "I have a background in x" referring to their degrees to sound valid. It's usually, "I worked on this for x years.. I was involved in this.." It's focused on work more than education. How can we fix that?
  3. Learning for the sake of learning is beneficial for the brain and soul but not very practical. How can we make it sustainable? Or how can we balance the different kinds of learning to reach a healthy information balance?

You probably have a busy life, full of activities and commitments, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it.

Ballroom dancing. In addition to being a relaxation and fun activity, it’s teaching me so much for both my body and soul. Body: balance, movement, rhythm, resistance, flowing and responding to music. Soul: connection, chemistry, expression, vulnerability, and understanding. I never thought I’d dance ballroom in my whole life, it happened by accident (tried a free class just for fun) but then I fell in love. After dancing for a whole year, even though I was enjoying it thoroughly, I felt something was missing. I'm only dancing to satisfy my enjoyment. I do it because it makes me happy, because I enjoy it, and I found that selfish. Until I made my performance dancing Tango to Oum Kalthoum song (Enta Omri). I extremely enjoyed the western and eastern combo and I decided to songs people don't dance to. Spacetoon songs, middle eastern songs, indies, oum Kalthoum songs. I want to bring beauty to these beautiful art creations (songs and music) in a different way (dance). We have amazing Arab artists and musicians and singers, and the world deserves to know and enjoy them.

What do you strongly believe in that most people would disagree with?

The future is humans, not AI. I love emotions and I love AI. But I don't love emotional AI. Mainly because of empathy. It is a human characteristic, it’s what makes us humans. And empathy is not like food, you eat it to satisfy your hunger and move on. Empathy affects the relationship and our emotional development. It's something to be exercised, practiced, to be felt, to be living through, not to consume it when in need and move on.

I just have a problem with treating an AI entity as a human entity. No, human is a human and nothing can be human other than human. AI should be a tool, never more and never less, because simply, feelings are humane.

And I try to reflect these values (human connections & feelings) in my work in games, products, stories, or even my dance performances.

Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, work, university, or community. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?

Born and raised and lived in Jeddah until the age of 17. Influenced by games since the age of 5, affected by Digimon since the age of 9, and empowered by the Talents Center and Mawhiba programs in FLL & ISEF, I decided to pursue my undergraduate degree in computer science in California, to be close to the Silicon Valley. Throughout the learnings, the hiccups, the ups, the downs, the depression episodes, the many failures, the few success, the growth in mentality, mindset, personality, and self-discovery, I managed to become  a software engineer with a degree in computer science from UC Davis, and a game designer who’s interested in games, data science, and machine learning (especially NLP) applications in creative projects. I care about education. Before college, I co-founded Manara Research to prepare pre-college students to participate in science fairs. During college, I joined Beta Lab as a research intern, where we studied how young students learn through making. Combining my interests in education & emotions, I created edumotion, an app for tracking emotions, developed in a hackathon and resulted in a paper about using mobile technology to understand emotion regulation in academic performance. For the love of education, games, and my passion for music, and startup cultures, I worked on Ranam, a mobile game application to teach playing middle eastern cultural instruments in a fun, engaging, and accessible way. In a surreal & beautiful turn of events, combining all my interests in programming, game design, emotions, and my discovered fondness of data science and machine learning, I was lucky and privileged to work with an amazing team on Proxi, Will Wright's upcoming AI simulation game based on memories.

The rest of the story is being written.. But I imagine it involving lots of leveraging the use of technology and data to execute great ideas, and to make beautiful games :)

Describe one way in which you have contributed to something you are particularly passionate or excited about

My biggest project was “Re:Search, A Campus Story”, an educational game designed for the online course "Introduction to Research", taught by Prof. Angelique Louie. I served the role of project lead & game designer, managing a team of 8 members of programmers, artists, writers, and a composer. I designed the concept for the game to match the learning goals of the class & maintained the game design document (GDD). I shipped the game online in a web build, in less than 10 months, offered in 9 UC campuses for 5 years, serving 300+ students. Was one of the best experiences I’ve had in college.

Describe the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?