Call me Hussain. I like brains, machines, and how they come together.
I’m a PhD student in Medical Science at the University of Toronto performing research at the intersection of neuroscience and artificial intelligence under John Griffiths. At the Krembil Center for Neuroinformatics at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), I use modelling methods to analyze patterns of brain connectivity to create and use tools that can characterize neuropsychiatric disorders.
My work rests upon the free energy principle, a way of unifying everything – from artificial intelligence to biology to economics – behind the idea of “minimizing free energy.” Using the Bayesian idea of the brain as an “inference engine,” the system can actively change the world (active inference) into the expected state and minimize the free energy of the system. This way, we can use the principles of how the brain works to refine machines and vice versa. My research is funded through the Canada-UK Artificial Intelligence Initiative.
The son of a grocery store clerk and a daycare assistant, I began my story on the coattails of Muslim immigrants who traveled from India to England to America in search of opportunity. As a child, I grew fond of mathematics as an empowering way to understand the world. Soon, I fell in love with writing for its expressive power in conveying the “human” in stories. Inspired by writers like Atul Gawande and Douglas Hofstadter, I wanted to dive deep into research, writing, and anything I could get my mind on.
At university, I studied physics and philosophy, one intertwined with the other like a Möbius strip, while performing research across computational biology and neuroscience. After graduating, I worked at the National Institutes of Health for two years before enrolling in the M.S. in Science Communication at the University of California-Santa Cruz. I withdrew to shift gears back to research and begin my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. I continue to relentlessly pursue the appreciation gained from contemplating science, whether by debating ethical issues in medical research or solving a math problem. I now hope to share my perpetual quest for beauty with the world.