Despite existing for several years now, the mere mention of artificial intelligence (AI) still makes the uninitiated think about it as nothing more than science fiction. Only those who genuinely follow AI evolution can understand that the “science” is real and contributes much to our current lives. Most industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and finance, are already harnessing the many benefits of AI. It has become ubiquitous that some can’t imagine life without it.
In this post, we’ll pay homage to the fathers of artificial intelligence (AI) who have made a significant impact on making our technological lives easier.
Fathers of Artificial Intelligence: Who’s Who in the AI World
Who are the fathers of artificial intelligence who paved the way for many industries to enjoy the technology’s benefits? Read on to find out.
(19 March 1927–19 July 1992)
The late Allen Newell is one of the earliest proponents of AI. A computer science researcher and cognitive psychologist, his work on the Information Processing Language (a programming language), Logic Theory Machine (an information processing system), and General Problem Solver (a human problem-solving simulation program) from 1956 to 1957 helped many scientists and researchers know the basics of AI and human cognition.
(18 April 1976)
Andrew Ng is a computer scientist with significant contributions to AI and machine learning (ML). He is currently a professor of computer science at Stanford University and Baidu’s chief scientist. Among his notable contributions is the creation of Google Brain, which serves as the search engine’s research arm for natural language processing (NLP), ML, and many other technologies.
Ng believes that there is still so much that AI can do. For instance, in an interview, he shared that research scientists are now keen on furthering unsupervised learning that lets AI systems quickly analyze data without the need to feed it with the expected output.
Ng also offers AI courses through Coursera, which he helped co-found. He also maintains the Twitter account @AndrewYNg that those who wish to emulate his success can follow.
(6 December 1947)
Geoffrey Hinton, an engineering fellow at Google, currently manages Brain Team Toronto. He is also a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and the chief scientific adviser of the Vector Institute. A prominent figure in the AI realm, Hinton’s notable work on artificial neural networks (ANNs), specifically the backpropagation algorithm, is crucial in training today’s neural networks.
In the deep learning community, Hinton is often recognized as one of the “godfathers of artificial intelligence” and “godfathers of deep learning.” In 2018, he was awarded the Turing Award for his immense contribution to deep learning.
(4 September 1927–24 October 2011)
The late John McCarthy is widely regarded for his undeniable legacy in AI and computer science. McCarthy is often attributed as the one who coined and defined the term “artificial intelligence” at a conference held in Dartmouth College in 1956, about the same time when research in AI began.
Decades after that initial presentation, McCarthy continued to work on various AI programming languages such as Lisp. He is also responsible for the underlying concept behind cloud computing.
(9 August 1927–24 January 2016)
A revered computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the late Marvin Minsky was among those who toyed with the idea of training computers with common-sense reasoning. His vision was to make machines think like humans because he believes that humans’ entire thinking process does not differ from that of computers. In the 1950s, Minsky started working on computational theories to simulate how machines can acquire human-like intelligence.
(8 July 1960)
Yann LeCun currently serves as Facebook’s vice president and chief AI scientist. He also works as a professor of computer science, neural science, data science, and electrical and computer engineering at New York University. As evidenced by his credentials, LeCun’s work mostly centers on ML, mobile robotics, computer vision, and computational neuroscience.
LeCun is considered the “founding father of convolutional nets”. He gained prominence for his work on optical character recognition (OCR) or translating images of typewritten, handwritten, and printed text into a format that a machine can understand through convolutional neural networks (CNNs). He is also responsible for co-developing the Lush programming language.
(5 March 1964)
Famous for championing deep learning, Yoshua Bengio is often referred to as the “grandmaster of AI.” Thanks to Bengio, LeCun, and Hinton, deep learning evolved from merely being an academic concept to one of the most cutting-edge technologies of today. Bengio’s work is critical in furthering modern AI through neural networks that power voice recognition, image classification, self-driving vehicles, and automated business decision-making.
Today, Bengio continues to work with businesses to explore the commercial applications of AI.
(23 June 1912–7 June 1954)
Alan Turing was a British mathematician, logician, and cryptographer. He is often revered as one of the “founding fathers of artificial intelligence and theoretical computer science.”
Alan Turing is best known for his work in breaking the Nazi Enigma code during the height of the Second World War, paving the way for the British to win the war and eventually the creation of the computer. One of the most significant contributions Turing made to the world of AI is of course the Turing Test, initially known as “The Imitation Game,” which now has a movie adaptation. The test aims to determine when an AI system has achieved human-level intelligence—something that Turing has always wondered about.
Here’s an interesting video by Cambridge University that sums up the enigmatic life of Alan Turing. It gives you a peek into the life of one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived.
Did you know that the ACM A.M. Turing Award, collectively received by Yann LeCun, Geoffrey Hinton, and Yoshua Bengio in 2018, was named after Alan Turing?
AI will continue to evolve. Thanks to these so-called “fathers of artificial intelligence,” many industries will continue to benefit from the powerful technology.