Open Site Navigation

Re:think Essay Competition 2022

Updated: Jul 31




Re:think is an annual interdisciplinary essay competition open to high schoolers around the world, judged by leading Cambridge academics.


The purpose of Re:think is to invite students from different backgrounds to come together to investigate, reflect on, and discuss the most significant issues confronting humanity today. The winners of this competition will be awarded a cash prize of 150 GBP along with scholarships that range from 700 GBP - 1,000 GBP to one of the CCIR Academy programmes. In addition, competition finalists will be invited to an online conference, where they will get the opportunity to discuss their work with leading academics from Cambridge and other top US/UK universities in an intimate setting.



Eligibility

  • Re:think is open to all current high school students (graduating years 2023-2026).

  • To participate, students must first register on Cambridge Circle (please see How to Participate for more information).


Key Dates


Registration is rolling until the submission deadline.


The deadline for submission is 12th September 2022.

The finalist shortlist will be released on 19th September 2022.

The conference is tentatively set for the weekend of 30th September 2022, where we will announce the overall winners of the competition.



About Re:think Essay Competition


Re:think is an annual interdisciplinary essay competition open to high schoolers around the world, judged by leading Cambridge academics.


The purpose of Re:think is to invite students from different backgrounds to come together to investigate the most significant issues confronting humanity today. The winners of this competition will be awarded a cash prize of 150 GBP along with scholarships that range from 700GBP - 1000GBP to one of the CCIR Academy programmes.


In addition, competition finalists will be invited to an online conference, where they will get the opportunity to discuss their work with leading academics in an intimate setting.



This Year's Theme: The Significance of Artificial Intelligence


“By far, the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.”

—Eliezer Yudkowsky

In an interview with the BBC, the physicist Stephen Hawking once famously warned that “the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Similarly, Elon Musk has once made the even more daring prediction that “the risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five-year time frame—10 years at most.”


Now, Elon Musk’s prediction dates to 2014. Some eight years later, it seems he was wrong. But still, it may be the case that AI poses a real existential threat to humanity—only it is not certain that it will, and if it will, when it will.


Nor indeed is it clear how it will. The major applications of AI we have today do not actually really resemble the majority of those imagined by the classical works of popular science fiction. For one, the AI of our world seldom takes humanoid form. In reality, AI technologies are a motley crew of things like our Tik Tok and YouTube feeds, self-driving cars, contact tracing technologies, machine translations, and automated journalism. And since much of this technology remains unfettered and unregulated, they have over the past decade led to large-scale crises of mental health, misinformation, privacy concerns, political legitimacy, radicalization, polarization—to name just a few—which we are still in the process of reckoning with.


But there are reasons here for optimism about AI, too. The use of contact tracing technologies across the world to combat COVID-19 is perhaps an especially prominent example of a way in which AI has directly benefited humanity in recent years. Indeed, one reason why AI continues to be a well-funded and vibrant field of research and development is that this technology does indeed possess the power to potentially change our world for the better in a countless number of ways—to transform everything from transportation, to healthcare, to the energy system to become more effective, efficient, and indeed, intelligent.


For the 2022 Re:think Essay Competition, then, we want to invite you to reflect upon the present realities and future possibilities of our collective existence with Artificial Intelligence. Whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, our hope is that you can think realistically and carefully about the significance of the myriad AI technologies that are becoming increasingly integrated in our lives.



Essay Catagories


The title of this year’s competition is “The Significance of Artificial Intelligence”, and we have split up the competition accordingly into three broad categories of Nonfiction and Science Fiction.


Nonfiction

For this broad category, we invite you to write any kind of nonfiction essay on artificial intelligence. There is a wide-range of options available here, which can be pursued from a number of disciplinary perspectives. For instance, you might write a policy proposal that focuses on the political consequences of the use of social media algorithms in the context of a specific country and explore potential policy solutions; or you might write a popular science piece that works to explain how a particular piece of AI technology works to a general audience; or you might write a philosophy paper that explores the question of when and whether we would be able to tell whether an AI is consciousness; or you might write a work of literary criticism, that compared and contrasted various science fiction works on AI and attempted to expound upon their significance; or you might even decide to write a work of creative nonfiction, that focused on your own personal experience with the social media rabbit hole. What we are looking for here is any kind of interesting and reflective writing on artificial intelligence that explores either its present use or its future applications in a manner that is carefully grounded in research and fact.


Science Fiction

As the author of Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradury once put it, “Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.” The greatest works of science fiction have always been those that teach us something about our present moment—or even about the human condition—which we for whatever reason are unable to see. Good science fiction, therefore, while perhaps being wildly imaginative, is also at the same time always animated by a spirit of realism—to be thus grounded both in an acute sense of human psychology, and a deeply-researched sense of scientific possibility. For this category of the essay competition, we wish to invite you to practice this art of the possible, with a keen eye towards the phenomenon of artificial intelligence—to use this unique literary form to help us understand this most significant technology that is evolving before our eyes.



Our Judges


We will be announcing our 2022 judging panel very soon.


Meanwhile, for the past 2021 Re:think Essay Competition, we invited three distinguished Cambridge scholars to our panel.

Dr Tom McClelland

Dr. Hande Güzel

Dr Daniele Cassese


Essay Requirements


Word Count

The length of your essay/short story must not exceed 2000 words, not including the references, footnotes, and bibliography.


Original Work

While we are happy to consider your own past work, plagiarism of any sort will result in immediate disqualification. All submissions will be run through an online plagiarism checker.



Prizes and Honours

  • For each category, we will select one overall winner and one runner-up.

  • The overall winner for each category will receive a cash-prize of 150 GBP and a 1000GBP scholarship for a CCIR Academy Programme.

  • The runner-up for each category will receive a 700GBP scholarship for the CCIR Academy.

  • All finalists will be invited to a conference where they will get the opportunity to discuss their work with our judges.

  • All finalists applying to any of our CCIR Academy programmes will be automatically admitted to the programme of their choice.

  • All finalists will receive a certificate issued by CCIR Academy, signed by CCIR’s director and the competition judges, to certify the student as a CCIR Re:think Scholar.

  • Finally, with our finalists' permission, we will publish all the winning essays on our website.


How to Participate

  1. Download your essay as a PDF file. (Any other forms of submission would not be considered.)

  2. Retitle the pdf of your essay file as follows: "Last Name, First Name - Rethink Essay."

  3. Please email your essay to sbhwang@cambridge-research.org with the Essay Subject: "Last Name, First Name - ReThink Essay Competition Submission."

  4. Submit your essay via email before the deadline on 12th September 2022.



776 views0 comments

© 2023 by Cambridge Circle.