The son of immigrants from Hong Kong, Andrew Ng is regarded as one of the leading minds in artificial intelligence. His academic credentials offer a clue as to why: Ng studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California, Berkeley. At Stanford, the professor researched machine learning. He is also co-founder of the online study platform Coursera, where he continues to teach a popular course on machine learning. As the initiator of Google Brain, he spearheaded a team of eminent researchers who made headlines early in the development of deep learning—a branch of AI that is attracting considerable attention.
In 2014, Ng moved from Google to its Chinese competitor Baidu. There he earned international recognition for his work on automatic speech recognition with the especially complex language of Mandarin. Voice recognition forms the basis for conversational interfaces—such as assistants and chatbots that can understand our colloquial language.
Ng believes that machine intelligence will increasingly become part and parcel of our daily working and private lives. “AI is the new electricity. It will radically transform nearlyevery major industry—healthcare, transportation, entertainment, manufacturing—enriching the lives of countless people. I am more optimistic than ever about the fantastic future we will build with AI,” he explained in March 2017 when he unexpectedly announced his departure from Baidu.
“I want all of us to have self-driving cars, conversational computers that we can talk to naturally and healthcare robots that understand what ails us. The industrial revolution freed humanity from much repetitive physical drudgery. I now want AI to free humanity from repetitive mental drudgery.”
AI is the new electricity.