David Caiafa studies computer science with an emphasis on artificial intelligence and machine learning at the University of London on a Váradi scholarship. He is also studying a degree in clinical psychology at the Arturo Michelena University, Venezuela.
David’s dream is to help people reach their full potential, fostering a calmer society where mental health services are more accessible and global, in turn building a better world. Interested in psychology and computer science from age 6, these two subjects enable David to develop an AI and metal health project that could hugely impact society.
David’s stellar grades at high school helped him achieve a place at the University of Carabobo at just 16 years of age. But, due to the volatile situation in Venezuela the university closed for a period and he lacked the financial resources to pay for a private university. Later in 2020 he was the winner of the Váradi scholarship to study remotely at the University of London, who were impressed by his idea to implement artificial intelligence together with psychology to create an algorithm for the identification of altered mental states in real time, to help early or timely detection of various disorders. This would measuring important variables in real time, such as body language, heart rate, body temperature, and if possible brain waves, all this data obtained through artificial vision and other sensors; processed and analyzed by artificial intelligence that in turn transmits this data to teams dedicated to mental health and safety, who can intervene if required.
David believes this project can be implemented in schools, airports, parks, or anywhere where it is beneficial to maintain optimal and stable mental health both individually and collectively. He sees this potentially having a great impact on society and in education, as improved mental health on the individual level will ripple across society to foster a healthier and more responsible world. If he wins the Global Student Prize, he would like to be able to make his project a reality on as large a scale as possible.
In his spare time David tutors his peers and encourages the skill of debating and public speaking, skills that he developed at elementary school which he believes are some of the best ways to make an impact and generate new ideas.
Although he overcame bullying at elementary school and high school, societal breakdown in Venezuela has a big effect on him as he started university. At the age of 18, he travelled to Mexico to take the entrance exam for the National Autonomous University of Mexico thanks to the help of an aunt who lived in the country, but he had to return to Venezuela since his father and mother were in very poor health and his younger siblings could not work to help them. These were extremely difficult months, in which the family barely had enough to eat, were unable to buy basic hygiene and health supplies, and in which the water and electricity service were inconsistent at best. But David did not give up, kept learning through online courses and independent study, until his parents' condition improved and he was able to apply for and then be awarded the Varadi scholarship.