Short Biographies of Key Figures in AI

5 minutes, 27 links


Updated November 2, 2022

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This list is far from complete but offers information about some of the people mentioned in this book.

Greg Brockman is the co-founder and CTO of OpenAI. He was formerly the CTO of Stripe.

Rodney Brooks is the co-founder of iRobot and Rethink Robotics, and former director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Adam Cheyer is an AI researcher and the developer of Siri. He has co-founded several startups, including Siri, Inc.

Douglas Engelbart was a researcher and inventor. He is the creator of the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). He is best known for the creation of the computer mouse, but he is also known for demonstrating the power and the potential of the computer in the information age.

David Ferrucci was the leading scientist of IBM Watson from 2007 until 2011.

Ian Goodfellow is a director of machine learning in the Special Projects Group at Apple. He is also one of the inventors of generative adversarial networks.

Demis Hassabis is a researcher, neuroscientist and the CEO and co-founder of DeepMind.

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Geoffrey Hinton is a British-Canadian computer scientist, most famous for his work on artificial intelligence and most specifically for ushering in the era of deep learning.

George Hotz is the founder of He is well-known for developing iOS jailbreaks and reverse engineering the PlayStation 3.

Garry Kasparov is a former World Chess Champion, who played IBM supercomputer Deep Blue.

Yann LeCun is the VP and Chief AI Scientist at Meta and a Professor of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. He is considered the founder of convolutional neural networks.

Fei-Fei Li is the Co-Director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, and a Co-Director of the Stanford Vision and Learning Lab. She is the creator of ImageNet.

John McCarthy was a computer scientist. He was one of the founders of artificial intelligence and designed the Lisp programming language.

Donald Michie was a researcher in artificial intelligence. He worked with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park and sketched designs for developing a system to play a chess game.

Marvin Minsky was an American computer scientist and one of the first pioneers in artificial intelligence. He co-founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Andrew Ng is a computer scientist and technology entrepreneur focusing on machine learning. He was head of Google Brain, and built Google’s Artificial Intelligence Group.

Judea Pearl is a computer scientist. He is best known for his work in probabilistic reasoning, and more specifically in the development of Bayesian networks.

Nathaniel Rochester was a computer scientist and worked at IBM, producing some of the first AI programs.

Frank Rosenblatt was a psychologist notable in the field of artificial intelligence, who implemented an early demonstration of a neural network.

Arthur Samuel was one of the leading figures in artificial intelligence. He popularized the term “machine learning” in 1959.

Roger Schank is an artificial intelligence theorist, most known for the creation of SAM, an acronym for Script Applier Mechanism.

John Searle is a philosophy professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is most known for the creation of the Chinese room argument.

James Slagle is a computer scientist. He is most known for his achievements in artificial intelligence, including the development of the Symbolic Automatic Integrator or SAINT.

Stefanie Tellex is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Brown University and creator of the Million Object Challenge.

Sebastian Thrun is a computer scientist and entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Kitty Hawk Corporation, and co-founder of Udacity.

Alan Turing was a mathematician, logician, philosopher, and computer scientist. He is widely considered to have founded the fields of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.

Joseph Weizenbaum was a computer scientist and a professor at MIT, and the creator of the first chatbot, ELIZA.

Notable AI Tools and Efforts

Amazon’s Alexa is a virtual assistant created by Amazon.

AlphaFold is a machine learning algorithm developed by DeepMind that predicts 3D protein structures based on only the DNA.

DARPA Grand Challenge was a competition for autonomous vehicles, that was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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