Tristan Donaldson Who to Ask, What to Ask, How to Ask?

who to ask, what to ask, how to ask??

Over the past month I have begun the writing of my research paper and have established a more fine-grained scope and rationale to it. It has been difficult synthesising disparate sources in order to answer my project’s questions. Before beginning, I had anticipated my research to be comparable to writing class essay assignments on Chinese political economy and history, (albeit a bit more difficult) and I did not fully consider the difficulties associated with independent research, whose question is “fully your own.” With class assignments, despite the fact that the work was always my own, and that the general angle of the essay is original, there is an additional dimension of difficulty I have encountered with this project. There is little research that exists that is directly related to my specific research question. This means that my research has relied on my own synthesis of disparate, indirectly related topics. This has contributed to my experiencing a version of Imposter Syndrome where I often question the validity of my line of questioning and even fear the reactions that other, more established, scholars might have toward my research. 

Cultural Perspectives on Human vs. Machine Intelligence

Recently, I spoke to a former Gallatin student whose research interests and projects align with the topic of my current research. I had the opportunity to ask her about her own experiences with thinking about the intersection between Chinese culture and both human and artificial intelligence. This gave me a lot of confidence and reignited a kind of clarity toward my research that I had lost. Apart from helping me formulate ideas of feasible/ worthwhile directions and angles to take, just having had the opportunity to listen to someone else speak about their work with confidence – work whose motivations and content was so aligned with mine – was helpful on its own. I was having difficulty deciding who to request interviews with and what specific questions to ask/ how to ask them but the informal “interview” with this Gallatin alumna really helped me to create a robust plan of attack for my interviews and the formulation of my interview questions – for which most will be framed as historical/ cultural questions. As of now, the first interview has been requested. I am feeling optimistic about the rest of my project and feel confident that I will be able to reach where I want to be within the next month and a half. If I had any advice to give to other new researchers, it would be to talk to as many people as possible whose work/ interests seem even the least bit related to your own. The idea is to gain as many perspectives on your own research interests i.e. to gain insight into multiple different angles to take when asking and answering questions of specific interest to you.