In which I minister to the ministry

December 12, 2023

The next few days were solidly dedicated to work: an 8.30-5PM seminar series delivered by myself and colleagues from the Center for AI and Digital Ethics (CAIDE)–led by the fearless Professor Jeannie Paterson.

Dr. Simon Coghlan discusses some of the philosophical issues raised by AI

One of the key goals was working with local contacts to up-skill government and local lawyers with the impending rise of AI and AI regulation.

My major role in our contingent was to explain the fundamentals of generative AI to provide a basis for a nuanced discussion of regulation. Outside of that, I provided perspectives on legal and regulatory developments in the USA and EU. Things move so quickly in the area that each day I needed to update my content!

We had an incredibly fulfilling time with strong engagement from our local partners–and learned a little about the operation of Vietnamese law in the process.

On Tuesday night, my last night in Vietnam, the gang (minus Jeannie) set out to visit the night market and tour a little of the French Quarter with Nhung. She made it incredibly apparent the extent to which visitors pay a ‘tourist tax’ with an egg Banh Mi running about $1 for her, or about $5 for tourists.

Nhung also helped buy me a new winter coat for my upcoming trip to the Baltics. It was lovely to be fussed over for a few minutes and have someone to help decide on the right coat (spoiler: the elastics on it fell apart pretty fast!)

While everyone else wanted an early night, as I was leaving the next day I wanted to make the most of my time.

In particular, I wanted to practice as much Vietnamese as I could. So I took my camera and looked for opportunities to take portraits in return for a few short conversations.

Walking the old quarter as a tourist, one is constantly solicited by restaurants, bars, massage parlours, and market stalls. With a few friendly words of Vietnamese, I was immediately treated differently, and in a much more genuinely warm-seeming way. Specifically, I attempted to learn some of the complex systems used for terms of address, according to which terms varied by age and relative social standing. Just saying hello with the right sentence suffix garnered many smiles!

© 2012-2024 Shaanan Cohney