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May 3, 2017updated 04 May 2017 4:28pm

Artificial Intelligence: 10 influencers driving AI in business

AI influencers continue to push the boundaries of what we think is possible, here is CBR's list of those to watch out for in the coming years.

By Joe Clark

As we move ever further into the age of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), we see more and more companies and AI influencers turning towards this technology in an effort to streamline their customer experiences, reduce their costs, or just wishing to push the boundaries.

New research from Axelos and PRINCE2, found that 60% of IT professionals believe that machine learning and AI will have a huge impact on project managers, and that 59% believe automation will replace many routine PM tasks, and this is just one job.

But what about the people driving this industry? Who are the most influential people currently making a splash in the field of AI? Take a look at CBR’s list of the top 10 AI influencers that you should be looking out for.


Yann LeCuninfluencers

Yann LeCun is currently serving as the first Director of Facebook AI Research (FAIR), a position which he has held since 2013. The group is dedicated to bringing about major advances in the field of AI.

LeCun is perhaps most famous for his work in computer vision which allows machines to learn from digital images, and optical character recognition which is the process of machines being able to read printed language. He is also one of the lead creators of the DjVu compression technology, and if that wasn’t enough he also helped to invent the Lush programming language.

Between directing Facebook AI and developing his own programming language, LeCun is also a part time professor at New York University, and a co founder and adviser of the bio-metrics company, Elements.

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Yann LeCun can be found on Twitter @ylecun


Demis Hassabisinfluencers

Demis Hassabis is the CEO and founder of Google Deepmind, Google’s world leading AI research lab, which primarily attempts to push the boundaries of AI and what machines are capable of using learning algorithms.

Hassabis started his career as one of the world’s leading AI influencers early on. After graduating from Cambridge, he joined renowned game designer Peter Moleyneux’s studio Lionhead Studios where he worked on the iconic deity simulator Black & White as the lead AI programmer. The Creature AI in the game was cited by critics as being long ahead of its time.

After several years in game design, Hassabis returned to academia and received his PhD in neuroscience. In 2010, he founded his own studio dedicated to AI known as Deepmind, which was subsequently acquired by Google in 2014. At Deepmind Hassbis continues to develop neuroscience-inspired and general-purpose learning algorithms.

Demis Hassabis can be found on Twitter @demishassabis


Sarah Austininfluencers

Sarah Austin is the CEO and founder of Broad Listening, a renowned entrepreneur, and a much beloved internet personality. Austin is known for her work with artificial emotional intelligence agents and has appeared on television shows such as Startups: Silicon Valley.

Sarah Austin first began her internet fame with webshow Party Crashers, in which she crashed Silicon Valley tech parties, this naturally proved extremely popular. Before long Austin was selected for Justin.TV.

Austin’s psychographic modelling via cognitive computing has received such high praise as being more advanced than IBM’s Watson’s personality insights API and Cortana when understanding language and semantics.

Having seen Silicon Valley firsthand, Austin is also the founder of Coding FTW. Coding FTW is a non profit organisation established to assess and address the gender divide that is so prevalent in the technology industry.

Sarah Austin can be found on Twitter @sarahaustin


Martin Ford influencers

Martin Ford is a world renowned futurist and author of both Rise of the ‘Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future’ (2015), and ‘The Lights In the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future’ (2009). The former was a New York Times bestseller, and both dealt with issues regarding the potential effects of artificially intelligent and automated workforces.

One of the main things that Makes Ford one of the AI influencers is that he accurately predicted that artificial intelligence would become a focal point in the future. In his 2009 book he predicted that by 2016 all the major players of Silicon Valley would be striving to outperform each other in this field.

However, Ford is a strong advocate of both capitalism and technology and believes that businesses and companies should strive to adapt to the coming changes in order to foster a positive economic environment for all.

Martin Ford can be found on Twitter @MFordFuture


Oliver Christie influencers

Oliver Christie is an Artificial Intelligence consultant with Foxy Machine, a boutique agency which helps to manage digital problems for smaller businesses. Christie is also the Co-Founder and CEO of XLABS which uses a powerful neural network to develop custom built algorithms.

Between 2015 and 2016 Christie was the Director of Artificial Intelligence at Centsai, where he oversaw the implementation of complex machine learning into a financial education platform.

Christie is an active tweeter, currently boasting over 150k followers, and he can usually be found tweeting or writing full length articles on the current state of AI and big data in business.

Oliver Christie can be found on Twitter @OliverChristie


Mike Gualtieri influencers

Mike Gualtieri is VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research Covering Artificial Intelligence & Advanced Analytics, and has been since 2007. During this time Gualtieri has provided the world’s leading enterprises and vendors with insights in the field of artificial intelligence, making him one of the true AI influencers.

Gualtieri’s role is primarily to help guide others, both in and outside of the field, on the coming changes that artificial intelligence will bring to the business world and what it means for the future. These insights allow companies to deliver better customer service and perform to the best of their abilities.

Gualtieri has received the Forrester Courage Award, and is a prolific blogger. He also holds the current record for the most viewed Forrester blog post.

Mike Gualiteri can be found on Twitter @mgualtieri


Andrew Ng influencers

Andrew Ng is one of the world’s leading AI influencers and the former chief scientist of Chinese web services company, Baidu, where he led the artificial intelligence group until March of 2017. In 2011, Ng was one of the founding members of Google Brain which developed large scale neural networks for machine learning.

One of the largest breakthroughs made at Google Brain under Ng was a neural network, operating on 16,000 CPU cores, capable of recognising things such as a cat from watching a YouTube video, without any previous knowledge of what a cat was.

To date, Ng has over 100 published papers in the fields of robotics, machine learning, and computer vision, and in 2008 was named one of the top 35 innovators under 35 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Currently Ng, is the co-founder and chairman of Coursera, an education focused technology company.

Andrew Ng can be found on Twitter @AndrewYNg


Nova Spivack influencers

Nova Spivack is the former CEO and Founder of LA based startup, Bottlenose. Bottlenose uses natural language processing and sentiment analysis to determine trends that may affect brands. The service is frequently used by Fortune 500 companies and processes over 72 billion messages a day.

Spivack attended MIT whilst he was still in high school and fully graduated in 1991, he then continued his academia at the International Space University (ISU) in 1992. During this time at ISU, his research was funded by NASA and the ESA.

Though Spivack is not just an academic, he has also trained in reduced gravity with the Russian Air Force and has been to the edge of space as part of Space Adventures.

As well as being the CEO of Bottlenose, Spivack is also an entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and co founder of online publication The Daily Dot.

Nova Spivack can be found on Twitter @novaspivack


Kate Crawfordinfluencers

Kate Crawford is a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Visiting Professor of MIT, and has well and truly earned a place among the leading AI influencers.

Crawford predominantly focuses on the far reaching consequences that artificial intelligence and robotics could potentially have on the world at large.

In 2016 Crawford co-chaired the White House Symposium, AI Now: The Social and Economic Implication of AI in the Near-Term, which analysed the impact of artificial intelligence across a range of different sectors.

Recently, Crawford launched the AI Now Initiative, which is designed to continue the research done by Crawford and peers on the effects of AI, to create a more equitable future. The AI Now symposium is due to be held this summer at the MIT media lab.

Kate Crawford can be found on Twitter @katecrawford


Fei-Fei Li influencers

Fei-Fei Li is Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and the director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (SAIL). SAIL has long been a hub of AI influencers and has made many advances in the fields of both speech recognition and robotics since its inception in 1963.

Since January 2017, Li has also been the chief scientist of Google Cloud which seeks to democratise AI and ensure that both businesses and individuals can benefit from the advances made. Particularly as AI is becoming a much larger area of focus for technological advancement.

In 2014, Li received the IBM Faculty Fellow Award, given to those who have fostered collaboration and promoted curriculum innovation. She has also had work published in Journals such as Nature and Journal of Neuroscience, as well as been featured in The New York Times and Science Magazine.

Fei-Fei Li can be found on Twitter @drfeifei


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