Meet the masterminds revolutionizing artificial intelligence
A carefully curated list of some of the best and brightest artificial intelligence experts out there right now
No longer a figment of 80’s science fiction, artificial intelligence has become as real as the sky or the sea. Penetrating our lives in more ways than we can tangibly imagine, artificial intelligence is turning our world inside out to reimagine and reinvent all the ways in which we work.
Leading this paradigm shift are a rainbow of brilliant minds. From data scientists to robot builders, the collective consciousness is putting their brains together to structure tangible ways in which artificial intelligence can be used to alter our systems for the better. Whether we’re looking at self-driving cars or automated banking software, it takes a community of dynamic geniuses to both imagine and create such possibilities.
So who are the masterminds behind the puppetry, pulling the strings that will get this show on the road? We’ve put together a list of some of the best and brightest AI experts out there in 2019. While it’s by no means exhaustive, it certainly shows the array of brilliance that’s coming together to be a force of monumental change for our world.
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Gary Marcus is an extraordinary mind working in the machine learning and AI field, with a background in natural and artificial intelligence. As a scientist and author, Marcus has written bestsellers that broach these subjects, namely The Algebraic Mind: Integrating Connectionism and Cognitive Science and Kluge: The haphazard construction of the human mind. His recent startup, of which he was the CEO, Geometric Intelligence, was recently acquired by Uber. The company works on developing innovative machine learning technology. Not only is his thinking beyond abstractly acute, Wired magazine described his 2008 trilogy of books as ‘remarkable’.
Demis Hassabis is a well-known thinker, neuroscientist, game designer, AI researcher and business mogul in the tech world. With an army of successful companies and achievements behind him, including AlphaGo, Theme Park, and the Golden Joystick Awards, Hassabis is now the CEO of DeepMind. A London-based machine learning AI-startup, DeepMind brings together neuroscience and tech to understand how to pattern and create intelligence, in order to then use that intelligence to solve big issues in the world today. Not only have his companies won a myriad of awards, so has Hassabis personally, including the Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal in 2016, the Academy of Achievement: Golden Plate Award in 2017 , and his CBE in 2018 for his work in science and technology.
Nick Bostrom is pioneering the movement to create AI responsibly, focusing on the dangers and ethics behind the design. Born in Sweden, Bostrom is self-taught after dropping out of school. He has a background in maths, logic, and AI, combined with philosophy, physics, and computational neuroscience. In 2005, Bolstrom founded the Future of Humanity Institute as a means to research mankind and to drive the importance of defining AI’s future. Most poignantly, he was one of the signatures on the Future of Life’s open letter which outlines the hazards of AI to the world - also signed by Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking among others.
Geoffrey E Hinton
London-born cognitive psychologist and computer scientists Geoffrey E Hinton is world-renowned for his continuous work on AI, which started back in 1978 when he received his PhD in Artificial Intelligence. Working predominantly in research and academia, Hinton was a faculty member at Carnegie-Mellon for 5 years, before taking a fellowship at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and then moving to the Dept of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. He founded DNNresearch, an AI company that creates voice and image recognition technology, which was acquired by Google. Hinton also works as a distinguished researcher for Google, assisting with the development of AI.
Raymond Kurzweil has an impressive reputation that precedes him as one of the world’s leading voices on AI. Computer scientist, author, and inventor, Kurzweil managed to create an AI software in his sophomore year of MIT that matched students to colleges - he sold this for $100,000. He has started a menagerie of different businesses throughout his career, such as Kurzweil Computer Products, Kurzweil Education Systems, and Kurzweil Applied Intelligence. Having authored 7 big selling books, he has received over 20 honorary doctorates and honors. A genius beyond comprehension, Kurzweil has made many predictions about technology’s influence on the future that have subsequently come true.
Cynthia Breazeal is a robotics genius who designs, engineers, and creates social robots. Her work on human-robot interaction is revolutionary, pioneering the development of how science is designing and creating social robots. Currently the director of the Personal Robots Group at MIT Media Laboratory, Breazeal created a personal assistant robot called JIBO after a successful IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign in 2014. A prominent keynote speaker on artificial intelligence, Breazeal has done TEDTalks as well as presenting at The World Economic Forum and the World Science Festival, among other events.
Andrew Ng is an AI researcher and computer scientist who has piloted some revolutionary AI projects such as the Stanford Autonomous Helicopter project and the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Robot. Thanks to his work, there is now an open source robotics operating system that is used by researchers and developers worldwide to drive the development of AI tech. A legendary teacher in machine learning, Ng has created and released a number of educative courses for free, while also spearheading the Massive Open Online Courses platform for Stanford. His drive led him to co-develop Coursera in 2012, and is now leading deep learning development at Baidu.
Jurgen Schmidhuber is a computer scientist, whose forte lies in neural networks, AI and self-learning AI. During his career, he taught at Technische Universitat Munchen fo 5 years, where he held the position as the head of the Cognitive Robotics Lab, later moving to the Universita della Svizzera Italiano in Switzerland, where he taught artificial intelligence. His papers on neural networks has been used to help develop speech recognition technology by Google, while his own company - Nnaisense - is pioneering the enterprise applications of artificial intelligence in autonomous transport and fintech.
Norvig is somewhat of a celebrity in the AI world. As the Director of Research at Google, Norvig is perhaps arguably the most influential person on the direction that tangible AI technologies could take when infiltrating the general public. Currently a councilor and AAAI Fellow at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Norvig has spent many years as a professor and academic in various universities. He has authored over 50 papers on AI, computer science, information retrieval, and natural language processing, while also having been instrumental in NASA’s development in robotics and autonomy. His online course on AI, hosted on the Udacity platform, is attended by over 160,000 students.
Fei-Fei Li has had a monumental career in the AI world. Currently a professor at Stanford University, she teaches Computer Science, and is simultaneously the Chief Scientist of AI and Machine-Learning at Google Cloud. Impressively, she co-founded AI4ALL, a non-profit education company that seeks to provide non-discriminatory learning opportunities to widen access to AI and technology education. One of the most prominent and important researchers in AI, Li’s work on ImageNet - a computer vision and critical dataset project - led to recent groundbreaking developments in deep learning. She has won a trophy case full of awards for her work, including her 2017 Athena Award for Academic Leadership from University of California.
Richard Sutton is a computer scientist with a speciality in understanding decision making processes and learning problems. As an academic, he is recognized as one of the founding fathers of computational reinforcement learning, having also devised quite prolific theories and ideas, such as policy gradient methods and temporal difference learning. A professor at University of Alberta, Sutton is a fellow of the Association of the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.
Nathan Benaich founded and runs London AI, an organization that brings together the best and brightest minds in AI to try and hash out the direction in which the future will flow - such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon. A facilitator of conversation, Benaich is also quite a prolific writer on AI and neural networks, translating the technological jargon for laypeople to understand. As a venture partner at Point Nine Capital, he pushes funding toward new projects in order to mold the shape of AI technology as it blossoms into being.
Andrej Karpathy, born in Slovakia, directs AI and Autopilot Vision at Tesla, where his advancements in AI and self-driving technology are famously palpable. Karpathy did his PhD at Stanford with Fei-Fei Li as his supervisor, with a emphasis on natural language processing, deep learning, and computer vision. As an academic, Karpathy is part of OpenAI, where he lends himself as a research scientist. In his spare time, he dedicates himself to providing valuable resources in the opensource community, such as maintaining and developing machine- and deep-learning libraries.
Having been a senior AI programmer for many years, Alex Champandard is quite well-known for his work in the gaming industry, where he developed very advanced technology for games - including motion technology that features in many of Rockstar’s suite. Champandard is considered an experienced AI expert in the industry, having authored AI Game Development, recognized as one of the most dynamic pieces of research literature in the gaming world. As a keynote speaker, he presents his ideas and research all over the world, while also organizing prominent AI events, such as the Paris Game AI Conference.
Co-founder and CEO of Iris.ai, an AI research discovery platform, Anita Brede has positioned herself as one of the most innovative AI creators of our era. Simultaneously, her ethos for the democratization of education and connection with science led her to develop Project Aiur - an AI assistant that reads and breaks down scientific knowledge as the world’s very first AI researcher. Named as one of Forbes’ Top 50 Women in Tech, she has transversed the scope of industry sectors with projects such as bringing solar lighting to Kenya, reducing energy consumption through heat exchanger network optimization, and developing an e-learning tool for Silicon Valley.
Neil Jacobstein, formerly the president of Singularity University, is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Stanford University Media X Program. Specializing in augmented decision systems, Jacobstein has been a technical consultant on AI for a whole run of companies and organizations, including NASA, the US Army, EPA, Ford, Boeing, and GM. Having previously been the CEO of Teknowledge Corporation, Jacobstein is now the chairman of the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Track at Singularity University. His influence can be felt in many spheres, such as his penmanship on the Foresight Guidelines that outline responsible nanotechnology practices, and with his keynote speeches on the ethical issues of AI and robotics.
Yann LeCun is a longstanding computer scientist, with a long academic history in the development of AI technology. He is currently the Director of AI Research at Facebook - an extremely powerful and well-resourced position when it comes to forming AI’s pathway in the regular world. Back in the late 80s, he created Convolutional Neural Networks - image recognition software inspired by the patterns of biology. Having worked on image compression technology in the 90s, LeCun became a Silver Professor at NYU, focusing on computer science and neural science and the founding director of the NYU Center for Data Science. He has received many awards for his work, most recently the Harold Pender Award, given for excellence in science and engineering.
Andra Kaey, the MD of Sillicon Valley Robotics, is working on bringing commercial robotic technology into industries. Concurrently, she founded and runs an incubator for startups called Robot Launchpad, and a robotics hackerspace called Robot Garden. As a thinker and educator, Kaey frequently writes for Robohub, an online news site about robotics. Kaey regularly gives keynote speeches to discuss the implications of robotic technology in everyday life, appearing on prominent platforms, such as WebSummit and Pioneers Festival. A passionate advocate for the introduction of robotics, Kaey’s work in AI stems from her MA in Human-Robot Culture, which drives her to find solutions to disrupt the current flow of business in order to maximize efficiency through technology.
Rana El Kaliouby
Rana El Kaliouby is the CEO of Affectiva, a company that deals in emotion recognition and measurement. Working avidly on the nuances of subtle facial expressions, El Kaliouby has managed to create a vast database with over 2 million faces - currently the most extensive in the world. Her drive comes from her passion to help autistic people communicate more easily following her position at MIT as a research scientist working on their Autism and Communication Technology Initiative. This led her to later to become part of teams that developed emotion-reading glasses and emotional hearing aids for easier autistic communication. With a list of awards as long as her arm, El Kaliouby was internationally recognized as being a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum..
Kittlaus has been in the AI game a long time, famously having led the teams that worked on Viv and Siri. After co-founding and working as the CEO of Siri, the first truly automated PA, Kittlaus moved to Apple as the director of iPhone app, following Apple’s acquisition of the software. After his exit from Apple, Kittlaus founded Viv, where he remains the CEO. Acquired by Samsung, Viv is a conversational AI interface, similar to Siri. With a long history in telecommunications, Kittlaus gives speeches all over the world on the power of conversational software and AI.
An eminent consultant in both technology and management, Jankowski assists with the commercial adoption and implementation of new tech. His visionary philosophy of working from ‘Inside Out’ to transform businesses has led him to taking to stages all over the world professing the benefits of AI-related tools in commercial and industrial environments. Founder of Enterprise Strategies, a company that helps to reinvigorate and rework conventional consulting models, Jankowski is often described as a social consulting expert.
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice in Computer Science at Simon Fraser University, Angelica Lim is an extremely intellectual roboticist. Currently working on AI software to improve robotic interaction, making it more human and intuitive, Lim works in an interdisciplinary manner combining developmental psychology, machine learning, and neuroscience. With some incredible inventions under her belt, she has already developed robots that can speak and gesture, play music, and explore terrain and oceans. Her work on developing a cross-modular framework for voice, music, and emotional gesture is revolutionary in creating life-like robots that can work in the everyday world.
Dr Ben Goertzel is a genius thinker, with an intention to educate the world on AI and the responsibilities we have surrounding it. Founder and CEO of SingularityNET, Goertzel created the AI marketplace on blockchain as a way to bring together developments in AI from all over the world, working under the ethics of opensource economics. He is the chairman of the Artificial Intelligence Society, as well as the chief scientist at Aidya Holdings, a financial prediction firm. As the chief scientist at Hanson Robotics, he is leading the team that work on Sopha, arguably the most advanced human-like robot in the world. Advising many prominent firms worldwide on AI and tech, such as Genscient Corp (a biotech company) and Singularity University, Goertzel can be found on prominent free podcast platforms as a way of spreading his message.
Arguably one of the most famous people in the world right now, Elon Musk needs little introduction. CEO, co-founder and product architect of Tesla, Musk also pioneers some quite prolific tech projects such as Neuralink, an implantable brain computer, and SpaceX, an aerospace company. While he is known for his entrepreneurial endeavors such as Paypal and Zip2, Tesla’s automated driving is one of the most prominent shows of AI technology being implemented in the real world today. His genius has led him to speak widely and loudly about his fear of AI’s power if humans were to construct the foundations irresponsibly.
Yoshua Bengio is a notable researcher working within the fields of artificial neural networks and deep learning. Currently a professor at the Universite De Montreal, Bengio is widely published on the subject of automated encoders that encode unstructured data on their own. It is commonly accepted that Bengio, along with Hinton and LeCun, is one of the three most important people in shaping and advancing deep learning through their work in the 90’s and early 2000s. Bengio is the co-founder of Element AI, an AI incubator that works to turn AI research into useable business strategies.
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