Jen-Hsung Huang is one of the most vocal champions of the AI movement in Silicon Valley. Born in Taiwan, the entrepreneur qualified as an electrical engineer before founding Nvidia in 1993 at just 30 years of age. He soon realized that the company’s high-performance graphics processor units (GPUs), which were originally designed to generate realistic video game environments and action scenes, were also ideally suited to other tasks that place heavy demands on computing power.
This is why his company is concentrating increasingly on AI in the automotive sector. In order to expedite the technical implementation and proliferation of vehicle AI systems, starting with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), Nvidia has entered into partnerships with major manufacturers and suppliers, including AUDI AG.
“For as long as we have been designing computers, AI has been the final frontier. Building intelligent machines that can perceive the world as we do, understand our language, and learn from examples has been the life’s work of computer scientists for over five decades,” says Huang.
“People are easily able to recognize objects and integrate their observations into a mental model of the world.” Until just recently, not even high-powered supercomputers could do that. The breakthrough came thanks to deep learning. 2015 marked the turning point for Huang: “That’s when AI became commercially viable. Before that it was primarily an area of research. The past few years have suddenly propelled AI to the point where the systems can do things that people can’t.
”In his opening keynote address at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Huang described AI as the solution to the challenges facing autonomous driving. The necessary technology is small and powerful enough. In fact, Nvidia’s latest processor fits neatly into your hand and can perform 30 trillion operations per second. “AI is the future of computing and will revolutionize tomorrow’s automobiles.”
Huang regards artificial intelligence in the automotive environment from two perspectives: “As an autopilot, AI will chauffeur us around, while as a copilot, it will watch over us”—for instance, by observing the driver’s gaze and facial expression in order to determine if you’re distracted or tired. The tech visionary expects that in the near future AI will develop a life of its own, continually improving without our intervention: “Soon software will be writing new software.”
The machine copilot watches over the driver.