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Scholar returns from China determined to help build Australia’s artificial intelligence ecosystem

Sholto Douglas used his 2018 New Colombo Plan Scholarship to pursue his passion for artificial intelligence and machine learning in China – a world leader in this growing field.

Photo of Sholto Douglas and Bobby Wen.
Sholto Douglas (pictured left) and Bobby Wen, Australia-China Emerging Leaders' Summit, Beijing. Credit: Rayjeen Chang.

Second only to the United States in the emerging STEM sector of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, China was a natural choice for Sholto, a student at the University of Sydney.

Hosted by Tsinghua University, one of China's top engineering schools, Sholto studied AI under the direction of some of the country's top mathematicians.

He was able to use his AI skills in a six-week internship with Zeroth, one of Hong Kong's fastest growing venture capitalist groups investing in AI start-ups.

Sholto completed a second internship with JD.COM, China's version of Amazon, which helped strengthen his work skills and enhanced his understanding of AI in the marketplace. He was tasked with picking and discussing AI trends and themes, and identifying areas of the business where AI could have a strong impact.

Sholto believes the most valuable aspect of his experience in China was to connect and build professional networks, which he hopes to use to expand Australia's burgeoning AI industry.

"I want to help build Australia's AI ecosystem, and a big focus will be trying to take that energy in China and spark some of it back here," he said.

Reflecting on his experience, Sholto sees the Australia-China relationship as critical. "Australia's relationship with China will define our nation for the future."

Outside of the classroom, Sholto also found time to pursue his passion for fencing. He is a member of the Australian Fencing Team, ranked 42nd in the world. While in China, he was hosted by the Chinese and Hong Kong Olympic Fencing Teams and developed enduring friendships with his sparring partners.

Last Updated: 28 May 2019
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