It is that time-dreaded for some, eagerly anticipated by others-where I have to start writing my MSc thesis and I face a serious dilemma. The Msc program I attend is in Computer Science and my Bsc was in Mathematics and the "normal" choice would be to focus on something that builds on my background-which offers a great variety given how connected the two fields are.

Initially I was planning to focus on exactly such a path, in particular in Cryptography, and I have done a preliminary discussion with one of my professors about a potential topic for a thesis.

But during my studies and combined with other interests and professional aspirations that I have, I developed a very particular interest in Artificial Intelligence, and specifically the broader implications AI advancements will have in warfare and their potential destabilizing effects on strategic security.

I did bring this as a candidate topic for a thesis with another professor, and he seemed quite interested, asking me to come by his office soon to discuss the specifics.

The problem lies in that the topic-though I truly believe is worth exploring, and I am willing to fully commit myself-seems very broad to allow for a focused and scientifically rigorous approach, at least of the kind required in a "true" CS or Mathematics/CS paper. It even seems to me it would be more appropriate for a Political Science/Security student. Do you believe I am correct in this assessment and I should focus instead on a more "conventional" path?

To be specific, I plan to outline all the ways by which A.I. might affect strategic stability, for example Big Data and Machine Learning would allow real-time tracking/prediction of all enemy strategic assets thus opening the chance for a First Strike, or autonomous platforms might lead to a loss of escalation control where human operators would simply back down and so on.

Now, each one of these could be approached rigorously and in detail but all together it is impossible, though exactly what is required to cover the topic in question.

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    Is your concern about graduation, or about your career post-graduation? You seem to be concerned about the former, but I would worry about the latter -- smart people who study the impact of X on Y are a dime a dozen, but those that can do computer science at a very high mathematical level have far better career prospects. – cag51 May 6 '19 at 2:52
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    You should be discussing all these with your advisor, as they will have details we, and probably you, are not aware of. – Solar Mike May 6 '19 at 6:25
  • @cag51 Thank you for the insight. The realization about "smart people who study the impact of X on Y" being "a dime a dozen" wasn't that obvious to me to be honest. – MathematicianByMistake May 6 '19 at 6:30
  • @SolarMike Will get right into it, this week I have a scheduled meeting so.. Thank you for the advice! – MathematicianByMistake May 6 '19 at 6:30

First let me say: This is definitely something you need to discuss with faculty members in your department. If you can find a supervisor who feels the topic is appropriate for the degree and wants to supervise your thesis, then go for it.

Having said that, I suspect that this topic is out of scope for your department/degree, and also too broad for a MSc thesis. It also sounds like you have already realized this.

I would guess that you can find a topic that is CS/math but also relates to the topic that you feel really passionate about -- just try to aim for a smaller piece of that very large question that you outlined.

  • I suppose this is the most sensible approach and will get right into it. Thank you. – MathematicianByMistake May 6 '19 at 6:27

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