Roi Shlomi is based in Tel Aviv, Israel. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Reichman University, he chose a different career path. Roi worked as a tech journalist and newsdesk editor for Israel's leading newspaper. Later, he transitioned into marketing and business development consulting, collaborating with companies like Microsoft and PayPal. His experience also includes working in the public sector for the Israeli Ministry of Science and the Israeli Space Agency! Subsequently, Roi joined LG Electronics, where he established connections between Israeli startups and LG. Roi is now again working as a consultant for various companies. “So, you can say I’ve been around!”
"The opportunity to learn at one of the most prestigious computer science schools in the U.S., combined with the flexibility to maintain my work and explore the potential for academic research, seemed almost too good to be true."
What inspired Roi to enroll in OMSCS? “Ever since receiving my first PC-XT at the age of 13, the world of computers has been a world of magic for me. Over time, I discovered that my true interests lie in the challenges these machines present, the need for solutions, and our social interactions with them.” Roi had always wanted to enroll in a graduate degree program, but all the programs required full-time commitment without the flexibility to accommodate work, or they were heavily research-oriented, which he wasn't certain he was interested in. “Finally, I stumbled on OMSCS, and I was hooked. The opportunity to learn at one of the most prestigious computer science schools in the U.S., combined with the flexibility to maintain my work and explore the potential for academic research, seemed almost too good to be true. It wasn’t easy—the application process is lengthy, and doing a standardized test such as TOEFL is not something you think you’ll do in your 40s, but it was a very small price to pay to be part of this amazing program.”
Roi mentioned that there are many great aspects of OMSCS, but for him, its diversity is what stands out the most. Roi is as curious about people as he is about computers, and OMSCS is the best place possible if you value diversity. “You can find yourself chatting on Slack with a veteran from the Republic of Korea who is pursuing dual degrees, with someone who was programming for mainframes from the U.S., and with a financial expert from Australia.” As for his favorite class, Roi answered, “Well, that’s an easy one—Futurism Seminar. The seminars are small groups focusing on different research topics. Being able to be in a discussion about social robots, and discussing it with people with backgrounds in robotics, computational biology, machine learning, and other domains—it’s just incredible. All that, without the need to move to another country or even leave my home. I’m taking another seminar on the design of privacy and security, and the experience is equally enlightening.”
"[In OMSCS], you can find yourself chatting on Slack with a veteran from the Republic of Korea who is pursuing dual degrees, with someone who was programming for mainframes from the U.S., and with a financial expert from Australia."
To Roi, computer science is so many things. It can be LLMs that churn out detailed answers, IoT devices that can cheaply improve anyone’s health, and everyday tools that help us work, study, or travel. He hopes that computer science will bring us closer together rather than drive us apart. Roi has also always been captivated by problem-solving, and as a young programmer, computers created endless challenges for him. “It’s like a never-ending Rubik’s cube.” Over the years, his fascination has grown with his understanding of the impact of computers and technology on society, and how technology is used for various purposes. If Roi wasn’t in computer science, he would pursue mathematics, and eventually philosophy. “Delving into any scientific discipline will inevitably lead to philosophical questions. So that might be next for me in the future. GT—how about an online masters in philosophy?”
With this in mind, if Roi could collaborate with any person, past or present, “I think that in the realm of computer science, I would like to work with Marvin Minksy, a notable scientist and one of the co-founders of the MIT AI lab, with inventions both on software and hardware and enormous contributions to the field of AI and robotics. Minsky’s take on our definition of the mind and his thoughts on AI are things that we surely miss now, with all the current discussions about AI and AGI. Another notable person I would like to work with is Jaron Lanier, considered one of the pioneers of VR and also a philosopher, musician, and composer. I had the pleasure to interview him years ago, and this was one of the most interesting talks of my life. In addition to his work on virtual reality, Lanier has also been a vocal critic of Silicon Valley culture and the impact of technology on society. He has written several books on the subject, including You Are Not a Gadget, which I urge anyone involved with technology to read. What sets both Minsky and Lanier apart are their remarkable scientific contributions, accompanied by a healthy dose of criticism regarding the potential downsides of technology.”
"I believe we often underestimate the impact of small gestures toward people around us, particularly in an era of remote work and constant screen time."
Roi has many interesting facts! First, he was never a professional programmer. He loves programming as a hobby, but after graduating with his bachelor's, he followed a different career path. He thinks it allows him to look at coding from a different view although, he reasons, it might be more difficult for him in some courses. Second, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Roi bravely volunteered at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in the country, assisting both patients and staff! “Despite having no background in medicine, the opportunity to help others even in small ways was incredibly rewarding. I believe we often underestimate the impact of small gestures toward people around us, particularly in an era of remote work and constant screen time.” Third, he is a certified yacht skipper! So when he is not at his desk, you might find him out sailing. He also plans to obtain a scuba diving certification soon, which will allow him to experience the ocean from below and not just from above.
Roi has no specific plans after graduation, “But I’m sure this will change during my time in OMSCS, as there are so many ideas and opportunities to explore, both academically and professionally." When he is not achieving academic and professional greatness or changing the world through his volunteering efforts, Roi is “a sucker for the performing arts, it’s just like stepping into a different world for me. Theater, dance, opera, orchestra concerts—even two times a week. Anything that takes me away from the screen and reminds me of how beautiful humanity is.”