First off, congratulations with becoming the AI*. For a start, could you introduce yourself for our members, who is Noa Baijens?
Hi, I’m Noa, I am 21 years old. I am originally from Son en Breugel, which is close to Eindhoven. I have 2 parents, 2 sisters and 2 cats. I don’t know what else to say, I wanted to prepare this, but suddenly I was brak and spent the morning in bed.
Understandable, it’s a difficult question, getting asked to introduce yourself.
Oh and I am in the fourth year of my bachelors AI!
Your fourth year you said, so you have been walking around here for a while now. How did you end up here, at the very start of those four years?
I did my VWO in secondary school, and initially I registered for “bedrijfskunde” (management), which would have been the biggest mistake in my life. I did not know what I wanted to do yet, so I just registered for it. Luckily I failed my finals, so I had another year to decide. Ultimately I ended up here. I think through the familiar scenario of Franc Grootjen and his talk during the open days, which works very well. After that I registered.
I think that talk by Franc is mentioned in almost every AI* interviews of this year so far. He just does it very well. Well it was not the wrong choice, since you’re still here, do you have a favourite topic/course etc.?
Well it’s a bit of a meme between all the fourth years I still talk to, that nobody really likes AI anymore in their fourth year, haha. No, I don’t really know, I hate all the psychology courses, but all the other things we learn, I think are pretty cool. I’m very happy with it.
Haha, where would that meme come from?
Hmm, idk, haha, toward the end of your bachelor you are really just done with it, while you also still feel like you haven’t really learned anything yet. On the whole, I am very happy with my choice though and I am probably going to continue with AI into my masters.
That’s good to hear. I also know you just finished up your bachelor's thesis, why don’t you tell something about that?
My thesis was a little bit unconventional, I did not program or build anything. It felt a little bit as investigative journalism, but it’s a thesis. It was still scientific, with a lot of scientific sources. You know how in societal impact we learn a lot about superintelligence and how it can be dangerous? I don’t know if you did that course already?
Yeah I did, it was fun course in my opinion.
Definitely, fun course, very interesting. But it left me wondering if that is actually what is going to happen now. So I started investigating and reading about what the ‘experts’ say on superintelligence. It turns out that it’s a pretty vague subject that is not super relevant today, with some saying we will have it in 10 years and some people saying we will never reach it. So we have only 1 ethics course in the programme, in which we learn about problems that may never become actual problems, while there are much more immediate issues that should get more attention in my opinion. But after this part, I also looked a bit into the current AI policy that the US is conducting. Especially in conflict with China, which is completely in another direction as the first part. It’s confusing. The conclusion of that part is pretty much “America bad”.
Well it is a very varied thesis topic, from superintelligence to American politics.
Yeah haha, it became a bit of a clusterfuck of different topics. But if you want to write it down with fewer words, it would probably be summarized as “the (currently) non-existing dangers of superintelligence.” I liked my topic, I did not like the actual work I had to put in.
I hear that more often about thesis writing.
Yeah, I will hopefully hand it in today, but we’ll see where that goes.
Now that I woke you up for this interview, you might as well.
Exactly, well done, thank you.
No, it sounds interesting, but let’s move away from studying real quick and lets go to the place where you study. You live in Nijmegen, did you have a room from the start or was that something that happened later?
That happened immediately, already in August, so I had a room during the intro already. I was still only 17 back then and I found it quite difficult. I was homesick a lot as well, even though I did really like it and I immediately became active within CognAC. But at the start you don’t really know a lot of people and a lot of my friends did not have a room, so I did struggle a little bit. Luckily, it all worked out fine and I am almost always here nowadays and have a great group of friends around me.
You said you hang out with your friends often, do you as a group have a favourite spot to go to? Or a favourite activity?
That was a little bit difficult during COVID times, but we did start the tradition to have a Hoogeveldt Christmas dinner, in a kitchen there and we have done that the past 3 years. And Hoogeveldt is a bit of an icon in Nijmegen, that deserves some appreciation. It is not really my favourite place, but I did end up there quite often.
Hoogeveldt is iconic.
Definitely. I don’t know what my favourite place is though. I mean, 2 out of 3.5 years that I lived here, there was Corona and there wasn’t much to do, so of course you go to Hoogeveldt a lot and that becomes the best place. Kidding, it is not the best place.
What do you like to do in your spare time, to keep yourself busy? Any personal favourite activities?
I have a season pass to PSV, which is not very useful right now, but sometimes there is actually people allowed in the stadium, so I can go. I am not that passionate about football, but it is just fun. I go there with friends from Eindhoven, drink beer and yell at the referee. We have about the crappiest places in the whole stadium. I don’t really have any other interesting hobbies, I am a bit of a Facebook mom, who just plays Candy Crush and is watches Grey’s Anatomy for the second time. I like doing puzzles and hanging out with friends as well. I really am just a bit of an old lady, who occasionally drinks too much.
You’re a bit like the fun aunt at a birthday, that opens the first bottle of wine a bit too early, is what you are saying.
Yeah maybe. The one that still wants to use up all her lives in Candy Crush, after a night of partying. No what are my hobbies, I don’t know? I also like music. I really like going to concerts and I finally have some planned again. I had such a fun answer for this about a week ago, but I forgot it :(
You already mentioned CognAC a bit. You are a very active member, hence you becoming AI*, but how did you end up getting involved in the association?
Well as I said, I had a room in Nijmegen from the very start and after intro, I joined the 1C. In hindsight, I regret not having done anything else next to the 1C. We organised the Bad Movie Night where Elizardo made custom subtitles for ‘Het Huis Anubis en het Pad der 7 Zonden’. After this I joined the WkC and the TraC and I just slowly kept becoming more and more active. I just really like the people I guess.
You already mentioned some of your committees, but what other committees have you been a part of?
So I started in the 1C, after which I joined the WkC and the TraC. I did a board year as well, during which I as a WebC member for a total of about a week. I was a member of the LoLCo and the SC and now I am the chair of the AC. Currently I am a part of the TraC and the AC.
Only a week in the WebC. It feels like there is some sort of story behind that.
Not really, it was in my board year and I did like the WebC, but then I just did not have the time to learn the entire framework and to build stuff. So I just left again. I do still think it is a very cool committee.
That is a good number of committees already to your name. Are there any committees you would still like to be a part of?
Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe the PC, that seems like fun. I think I am already in the best committees right now. The TraC is just great and the AC is just the peak committee in my opinion, because (almost) everything is possible.
Next to all those committees, you also did a board year last year. You were the secretary, and my predecessor. Why did you ultimately decide on doing a board year?
I’m not sure. Kim was in the board before me, and she is one of my best friends, and she liked it a lot, so that did inspire me. Don’t tell her this though, haha. CognAC is just really fun and I feel very at home here. I already wanted to do something else as well, so I just thought “why not?”.
Did it meet your expectations? Despite the whole COVID situation?
People always said “oh it’s a shame that you can’t do this” or “so sad that you couldn’t experience this in your board year” about a lot of things, but I never experienced a board year before, so I just did not know what I was missing I guess. I am very happy I did it, it was very tough at times, but I don’t know what else I could have done in a pandemic for a year. It just gave me purpose and a stable group of people that I got to spend time with. It was great!
Did you specifically want to do a CognAC board year or did you also look at other things?
I shortly considered Olympus as well, along with some other things. But I don’t think any board year is quite as diverse as a board year for a study association. You do a lot of different fun stuff. And as I am only part of one study, CognAC was the obvious answer.
That’s almost it for the CognAC related questions, I have only one left. You have done board, and have (hopefully) a good overview of the association. What do you think is something that CognAC still really needs?
I knew this question was coming, and I still did not prepare it. We need a poolparty. Last year, the LC was working on this, but I am not sure about this year. It seems like a lot of fun. Oh, and a CognAC camping weekend, that sounds pretty cool.
That was everything I prepared I think. Is there any question that you did prepare, but I did not ask and what would your answer be?
I expected you to ask about my favourite CognAC memory, *oh yeah, I forgot about that one haha* Haha, it’s okay. But I think, apart from my entire board year, my first CognAC weekend is my favourite. I had only been in the 1C and I barely knew anybody, which was scary. I went with Kim and some other first years, but that was it. Everybody turned out to be amazing and I joined the WkC afterwards.
Amazing, that was it for the interview. Before we end, do you have any shoutouts?
Well, shoutout to the AC and the TraC. Shoutout to the 30th board, pornoboard best board. Shoutout to the 31st board as well. And the 29th, they’re also fun. Shoutout to the 1C as well, I am brak from the cantus and it was a lot of fun. Shoutout to Kim and Cheap Wine!!
Thanks for the interview, and again congratulations on becoming AI*!