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How My Passion for Astronomy Became a Career in Artificial Intelligence

Domas is an artificial intelligence engineer at Zyro. He’s instrumental in creating the technologies which take Zyro beyond just being a website builder, and towards being a success builder. 

Below, he explains how an early interest in the cosmos and astronomy led him on a path towards machine learning, and how working at Zyro has given him freedom and space to make real human connections.  

I always wanted to learn about the stars 

I come from a small town in Lithuania, and when I was younger you could see loads of stars in the night sky. Because of this, from a young age, I wanted to become either a physicist or an astronomer.

When applying to university, you can apply for up to 20 different options, but I just applied for only one, and that was computational physics. 

There were three branches in computational physics: computer networks, theoretical physics and astronomy. I chose computational physics because Vilnius University was the only place where I could study astronomy. 

What surprised me was that I fell in love with mathematics. I wasn’t bad at it at school,  but I never knew what mathematics really was before university. So I fell in love not so much as physics, but with mathematics. 

I realised that if I wanted to be an astronomer, it was going to be really tough because in Lithuania, we don’t have the right places to study and a lot of it is learning just from your own initiative. The thing is, there are really cool people working in astronomy in Lithuania, but there were also things I didn’t like about the observatory. 

With all this in mind, I decided to lean into programming. I had already done some programming at university, including optimization problems, where we have a picture of the night sky from one of the telescopes and you have to pinpoint which of the points are dwarf galaxies, which are super valuable for cosmology.

For that classification problem, we used what I now understand to be artificial intelligence or machine learning techniques, but at the time I didn’t know that. 

I realised the mind is as vast as the cosmos 

After that, I took a gap year for two years and decided I wanted to see the world. I just hitchhiked across Europe with a backpack, worked in the Netherlands for a couple of months, then went to Austria, into the mountains. 

I spent that time just thinking about what I wanted to do with my life in the long run. When I got back, I started programming. At first, I didn’t like my first job because I had to do web development. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it was just not to my tastes. 

For my next job, I did some data collection stuff and web scraping. I felt a bit like a hacker, penetrating different defence systems, though it wasn’t anything illegal. 

It was really interesting to see the whole process of a website coming to your web browser, see behind the scenes, and inspect low-level traffic. That got me thinking maybe this programming stuff wasn’t that bad. 

I was always kind of a dreamer, and from childhood, I wanted to learn about the stars. I started to realise there’s another part of the universe that is as big as the cosmos. It’s your consciousness or mind. 

Zyro was somewhere I could learn and grow

In my data scraping job, there were some things that we had to do in Python that had to do some machine learning. I wondered whether artificial intelligence could shed some light on the mind, and maybe in the process I could build some valuable tools. So that’s how I started learning a little bit of intelligence

I’d been programming with Python, so I started looking for Python jobs. One of the job posts was for Zyro.

At first, I was just interested in the technicalities of the job, like what technologies I’d use, what problems I would be solving, or who I’d be working with. 

In the job post, it said I’d be working with Zyro’s artificial intelligence products, so I checked those products and one of them was the heatmap that Mathus made. I found it super interesting and figured I could learn a lot from these guys. 

The driving force in my professional life is learning, and if I see an opportunity to learn and grow, then I’ll just take it. Zyro was one of those opportunities.  

We want Zyro to be the next generation of website builders 

My team, and Zyro at large, think of how new technologies could help make our product into the next generation of a website builder and leverage the newest technologies. 

The AI team members are the ones that can now implement those features. 

One feature that I worked on last quarter was the image background remover. I really like images or video, and the image background removal was one of the main machine learning projects I was instrumental in. 

We also work on the website builder. We’re thinking about how we can use machine learning to help us with the importation process when users want to import their existing website designs and layouts into Zyro. 

Usually, I can just identify a problem I like and go off and work on it. Of course, you have to have in mind the practicality and the feasibility to have it in the building, and most importantly, the value for the user. How will that benefit the user? Is working on this problem the best use of my time?

We’re not limited to machine learning or AI. I like to think of our system as just problem solvers; if there are problems that Zyro faces we have the expertise to read the research papers and implement solutions. 

We’re kind of just Zyro’s R&D department.

What makes Zyro unique is its people

The first big appeal of working at Zyro is freedom. Freedom in the form of choosing the projects that you want to work on and the freedom to choose the technologies that you want to use. It’s freedom to do some in-depth research and freedom to learn across so many fields.

At the top of my list of positives of working at Zyro are the colleagues. 

I didn’t know before coming to Zyro that colleagues are important, but that may sound a bit cynical, but that was that that was the case. At previous jobs I didn’t have friends, there were just colleagues; you see them at work, go home. 

But at Zyro, it’s the first place where I made real friends. My team are close friends now, we have interests that align, and we have similar thought processes. 

If you come to Zyro, you will find some friends, because it’s a diverse place of people with different opinions, with different interests, with different things going for them.

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Written by

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Domas Vaitmonas

Domas is hugely passionate about the world of science, AI, and new technologies. Did you know that open source is his religion? For real. When not in front of his computer, Domas loves rock climbing, traveling, hiking, and giving his neighbors a proper headache with his drum solos.

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