Founder, Comfort.AI & MACSO
Master of Computer and Information Sciences
She loves being able to work on her passion, says Saba Samiei who completed a Master of Computer and Information Sciences in 2019 and has since founded two AI start-ups.
“Since graduating from AUT, I’ve founded Comfort.AI, a company that is dedicated to making AI a comfort zone for our audience via online videos and in person workshops. I’m now leading my second start-up, called MACSO, to lower the barrier for innovation using AI and IoT for the world, ensuring that what we create is built ethically and responsibly. I enjoy working on my start-ups, and want to contribute to setting an ethical foundation for the future of AI. My career challenges me in different ways and helps me learn something new every day.”
She is proud of how far she has come over the last decade.
”I came to New Zealand nine years ago after spending six years in India. It was my first time in a Western country, and I had no friends, no family and didn’t know the culture here. The only thing I knew was that success was my only option. Now I have an amazing network of people around me, I’ve learnt a lot, and have gained wide experience from hands-on coding and working with New Zealand businesses and multinational companies. Mostly, I’m proud to have followed my passion for AI and my start-ups.”
A passion for AI
For Saba, her AUT journey began in 2017 when she decided to return to university after several years in the workplace.
“I wanted to learn about artificial intelligence and going back to university was a great option. I chose AUT because AUT had an open day for students where I could go and talk to real people, and was given clear guidance as to what I needed to do to achieve my goals. I then met my supervisor, Professor Albert Yeap, and really liked him and his vision.”
With research a key part of her Master of Computer and Information Sciences, Saba decided to focus on the ethics of artificial intelligence for her master’s degree research.
“I was trying to find out why AI is being talked about as a dangerous technology. My journey opened my eyes to a whole new world and gave me the courage to go and make an impact. I really enjoyed the experience of the 3 Minute Thesis competition. It was the first time I had to present my two years of work to a wide audience in three minutes. And winning the audience vote award was a great feeling as it made me believe what I had worked on was something that people were interested in. I’m super happy about my start-ups and proud to have had AUT, a university in the top 1% of universities in the world, as part of my journey.”
The right university environment
She thoroughly enjoyed her time at AUT, Saba says.
“What I’ve enjoyed the most about my postgraduate studies was the support of my supervisor and the resources I had access to as a master’s degree student. As someone who was working full-time, had a voluntary job and was studying, my research time was limited. I dedicated all my weekends, national holidays and Christmas holidays to my research.
“I was grateful to have a university that was flexible enough for me to choose when to do my research and provided a comfortable and safe environment.”
Saba has some great advice for other students considering postgraduate study.
“You can’t control what you hear, but you can control who you listen to. Listen to your inner voice!”