Christine de Kock (25)

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2018 Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans

Science & Technology

Christine de Kock (25)

Artificial Intelligence engineer, Media24

What do you do when you start your career as an Artificial Intelligence (AI) engineer at the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)and do research on the use of AI for astronomical discovery in terabyte scale data? You leave to study an MSc in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh, graduate cum laude, and enter the media. This describes the impressive and stratospheric career path of Christine de Kock, who is now a data scientist and product owner for AI at Media24.

“In the final year of my studies at Stellenbosch University my lecturer, Professor James Bekker, introduced us to the emerging field of data science,” says de Kock. “I can still remember the frisson of excitement I felt when reading industry case studies and realising that this way of thinking was growing traction as a discipline itself. I knew that this would be my future.”

At the SKA de Kock worked on the search for pulsars — rapidly rotating neutron stars — using neural networks. It was a deep end swimming start for her as she barely knew anything about astronomy, but there were plenty of people keen to help. It inspired her to further her career and to follow her dream of being in media.

“My main focus at the moment is to productionise my master’s dissertation for News24,” says de Kock. “The wonderful thing about AI and data science is that it can be applied in pretty much any field. I’ve worked in the media and astronomy, but there are many other industries where cool things are happening such as in healthcare and agriculture. My plan for the future is simple — solve interesting problems using data.” — Tamsin Oxford

Instagram: @christinedekock