Episode 3

The
Spark
 


Episode 2 - 15 March 2018

The runaway intellect

What’s it like leaving your mother country out of necessity, not desire? Dionisio Nunes did exactly that, and succeeded, but he never stops looking forward. As a Research Scientist in Oral Healthcare, Dionisio applies machine learning to solve oral health problems. If you want to know what intelligence at work looks like when it it’s given a free pass, read on.

The first thing that strikes you when you meet Dionisio Nunes is how curious he is about the human condition – and how reflective he is on his own.

“I’ve been told that I’m a fast talker,” he says, “and I think it has to do with my speech basically following my brain – I go so much faster than I can speak it out.”

Daily he’s preoccupied with “thinking about making the world a better place,” he says. And what we learned while spending time with him is that he’s definitely making progress.

“My presence at Philips should not serve to simply enjoy the company I have, but rather, to actually think about meaningful changes,” he says.

Dionisio is the kind of person you’ll wave to in one department of Philips, and then see in another one, wondering how he got there so quickly. He’s inspired by inspiration itself, and is constantly looking for more.

D Nunes
Thinking about meaningful changes: complex problems give Dionisio Nunes an outlet for his creative expression.
Growing up and curious, he even taught himself to read.

“Angola became independent in 1975, and at that time there were not that many people who were educated. So I went home, and started assembling very basic sentences,” he explains. Within a very short amount of time, he surprised his dad by being able to read random cities on a world map.

“Dionisio is inspired by inspiration itself, and is constantly looking for more.”

Any bit of data will draw Dionisio’s attention, but most of all, anything that’s supposed to be out of reach. Like the department next door – or in the next building. Dionisio is fond of reaching out to others and exploring, soaking up everything his career and life have to offer. To some, it may seem like he’s sneaking off where he doesn’t belong, but we’re quite sure he’s where he does belong: Philips.

And Dionisio’s story of getting here is riveting, if not hard to hear. You see, he left his birth country of Angola not through desire but necessity. With a civil war in the background, his dad suggested he aim for the Netherlands, and after spending his formative years in South Africa, he eventually made it to the land of windmills – and his ideal profession.

Looking back, Dionisio says that the horrors of war can bring various questions to our minds. Those big, daunting questions that are sure to get someone to change the topic. What is life, and how fortunate are we to have it? What are the sheer odds that we'd be conscious right here, right now? What does intelligence look like when it’s given a free pass?

Innovation for the future

 

At Philips, Dionisio’s work and career sees him applying machine and deep learning in Oral Healthcare. Working in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Dionisio sees a form of consciousness emerge in the most uncanny of places.
 

So to him, AI isn’t exactly as scary as the movies often make it out to be. This is because AI is not consciousness in the traditional sense of awareness or feeling. AI offers us something else. A chance to see a pattern process – like a thought –  emerge and explore.
 

AI offers a systematic way to process “the power of information,” says Dionisio, which can ultimately help in better decision-making. And that could be better for us all.
 

In fact, Dionisio is a bit like AI, in the way he’s constantly absorbing information, sneaking into other departments and disciplines and poking about, exploring. He’s not morbidly thinking about life and death all the time, but he’s always thinking about life, and he’s most certainly always thinking about thinking.

“If a solution to a problem is just following a set of pre-written rules, then you’re not doing any creative work.”

“If a solution to a problem is just following a set of pre-written rules, then you’re not doing any creative work. You are just following a recipe. But if it’s complex and challenging, then you have the opportunity to express yourself,” he says.

It’s exactly these complex problems that give Dionisio an outlet for his creative expression at Philips. After all, solving those problems is what the future of health technology is all about.

How does Dionisio keep his career moving forward? Here are his top 5 tips for success:

  • Find your place within your environment and organization: it will help you plan your way around obstacles

  • Don’t be an extra in your career: be original instead of overly conforming, fill an actual gap.

  • Embrace failure: failure is evidence that you at least tried to do something differently.

  • Don’t be too careful: if you tip-toe your way through life you probably won’t leave a footprint.

  • Be human!

Listen to the podcast to hear Dionisio’s story, including a visit to his ‘mad professor’s’ apartment, his trip to South Africa, and finding himself in a Buddhist monastery.

If you’re a bit of a rebel, but you’re looking for a cause, maybe it’s time to get curious about Philips? Check out the career opportunities at careers.philips.com, and let your imagination run free.

A dynamic career that no one could have planned.
Even you.