resumé | email | twitter

My name is Isaac David. By and large I'm interested in improving perception and reasoning, correcting and expanding my ontological models, and reprogramming my value function and corresponding behaviors by an inquiry of experience and nature (and the nature of experience); so as to procure the happiness of sentient beings, of whom I'm certainly one. There goes the mission statement.

Following up on the former, among my instrumental interests more precisely figure science; notoriously cognitive science and neuroscience. Other subjects include computing, the occasional battery of mathematics and physics, philosophy, art — mostly, enjoying and sometimes practicing music and painting —, and to the extent that I can bring myself to digest the disheartening bullshit orbiting it: politics.

A short bio

As a preschool kid I imagined of becoming a scientist of sorts (the generic kind), because that would somehow give me superpowers. When I was a teenager I got involved in math competitions, and all of the sudden, I was surrounded by nerds who taught me to appreciate clear thinking. By the time I was in high school I started reading philosophy and learned about things like the mind-body problem and naturalistic views of the world; and I realized my religious upbringing was no longer sustainable. I could barely decide to go for physics at the university, but my family couldn't afford sending me to a different city, so I ended up studying computer engineering.

Although I would have reasonably liked a career in computer science research or free/libre software development (where I volunteered for some years), I realized the engineering jobs I had access to wouldn't make me happy at all. It also seemed to me that I was wasting my aptitudes. One day, while riding my bike to a mediocre job, I decided to go for the single topic I find most interesting and fundamental: consciousness; even if it meant traveling an unfamiliar and difficult detour. Never have I looked back since, and it seems to be working.

I realized I needed graduate training in biology and psychology, because our own brains are the only model in which this topic can be studied in a principled fashion. First I took a job as a research assistant, exploring certain applications of machine learning techniques. With the money and some new basic skills in academia and AI, I could make the jump to cognitive neuroscience. After some rejections abroad, I briefly went for a master's in cognitive science within my country. Then I abandoned that program for another master's, now in neurobiology, at the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) where I originally intended to go for undergrad school. Those years were psychologically straining, but rumor has it that I did very well.

Once the basic neuroscience credentials were in, I could aim higher and narrower; hopefully contributing to the venues I find most promising for cracking the problem of consciousness (like Integrated Information Theory, whose impact I suspect will be felt way beyond this tiny corner). However, grad school had made me poor again and I needed lots of money to get out of Mexico. So I went away to industry, and with money I came back, looking for PhD options. Right now I am a visitor at the Center for Sleep and Consciousness, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.