EYE ON AI:
THE PODCAST

 

Eye on A.I. is a biweekly podcast, hosted by longtime New York Times correspondent Craig S. Smith. In each episode, Craig will talk with some of the people making a difference in the space, putting incremental advances in machine intelligence into a broader context and considering the global implications of the developing technology. AI is about to change your world, so pay attention.


EPISODE #018
(42:45)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
PARTHA TALUKDAR


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This week, we look at AI in India. With its massive population, fast-growing economy, English-language education and large supply of brilliant researchers and engineers, it should be competing with China and the U.S. for dominance in the space. But it is not. I talk to Partha Talukdar, a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, about the challenges that have kept India from realizing its AI potential.

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EPISODE #017
(56:59)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
YANN LECUN


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I talk this week to Yann Lecun, one of the brightest minds in machine learning today. Yann's work lies behind some of the most critical AI applications, notably computer vision systems that power everything from face recognition software to self-driving cars. He recently won the Turing Award, the highest prize in computer science. We talked about Yann's first computer, about how music led him into computer science, and about his work on self-supervised learning, which he believes will take us to human-level intelligence in machines.

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EPISODE #016
(52:57)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
TRAE STEPHENS
BRIAN SCHIMPF


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There is an implicit race underway among the world’s great powers, particularly China, Russia and the United States, to enhance their militaries with AI. To understand this, I talk this week with Trae Stephens and Brian Schimpf from Anduril Industries, an AI defense contractor. We talked about the current state of AI research and deployment for national security, including how the US stacks up against China. We also talked about the resistance among US engineers to work on defense applications and whether that hobbles the US in the global AI arms race.

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EPISODE #015
(25:32)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
KEN CHURCH

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This week, I talk to Ken Church, a pioneer in Natural Language Processing, whose use of statistical models on part of speech tagging revolutionized the field and is what makes automatic dictation and machine translation so popular today. We talked about his early days at MIT, about explainable AI and about how the Holy See played a role in his probabilistic approach to NLP.

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EPISODE #014
(37:59)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
SERGEY LEVINE

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Thinking robots II: This week, I talk to Sergey Levine, one of the most prolific researchers in robot learning. We talked about developing a robot’s sense of touch and about robot dreams and Sergey’s dream of thinking robots operating in the wild. I also asked whether he believes we know what’s happening with AI research in Russia and China. Pay Attention.

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EPISODE #013
(31:33)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
PIETER ABBEEL

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Thinking robots: that’s how much of the world envisions artificial intelligence and if there is one person on the planet who understands the limitations and promise of intelligence in robots, it's Pieter Abbeel, one of the world’s foremost experts on robotic learning systems. In this episode, Pieter talks about robot memories and the prospect of robots with personalities eventually assisting in the home. Listen and learn about your future.

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EPISODE #012
(27:36)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
SAMY BENGIO
YOSHUA BENGIO

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This week I talk to the Bengio brothers, Samy and Yoshua, in their first interview together. Yoshua recently won the Turing Award with Geoff Hinton and Yann Lecun, while Samy leads a team of researchers at Google Brain. The brothers are well known to people who work in machine learning, but few know how intertwined their professional lives have been. They talked about their unconventional parents and their early collaboration on neural network research, as well as what they see as the challenges going forward.

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EPISODE #011
(38:08)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
RICHARD SUTTON

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This week, I talk to Richard Sutton, who literally wrote the book on reinforcement learning, the branch of artificial intelligence most likely to get us to the holy grail of human-level general intelligence and beyond. His work changed the course of machine learning and has become the standard model for reward learning in the brain.

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EPISODE #010
(32:34)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
PEDRO DOMINGOS

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In this week’s episode, I talk to Pedro Domingos, author of the bestselling book, The Master Algorithm, which is about the ongoing effort to unify machine-learning paradigms in a single model. But the conversation was much broader than that. Pedro believes strongly that the great powers are engaged in an AI arms race with America's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, pitted against China's military and industrial dynamo. We also talked about the future of of democracy and authoritarianism in an AI-driven world.

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EPISODE #009
(19:51)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
LIANG HUANG

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Resurrecting the Tower of Babel with machine learning: In this week’s episode, we talk to Liang Huang, principal scientist at Baidu Research in Silicon Valley about his breakthrough in simultaneous translation technology, which promises to erase language barriers. Baidu’s system can already translate speech to text with as little as a three-second delay. Soon, Liang says, the technology will translate speech to speech, enabling a future in which people from different languages can speak fluidly with each other.

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EPISODE #008
(21:59)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
BERNHARD
SCHÖLKOPF
MATTHIAS BETHGE

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In this episode of Eye on AI, I continue my review of AI research in different regions of the world with a focus on Europe. Europe, with its strong academic tradition, faces unique challenges in scientific research because of the continent's fragmentation and the weakening of the European Union. Given the growing dominance of North America and China, Europe risks being left behind. To understand what Europe is doing to avoid this, I talk to two machine learning researchers from Tübingen, Germany, who have been working to bring machine learning research in Europe under one umbrella. I hope you find Bernhard and Matthias as interesting as I did.

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EPISODE #007
(23:30)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
BENJAMIN ROSMAN

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In this episode of Eye on AI, I talk to Ben Rosman, who runs Africa’s largest machine learning lab at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he is focused on reinforcement learning. Ben has been instrumental in unifying and upgrading the continent’s machine-learning capabilities in hopes of making Africa a player in the artificial intelligence revolution. If you wanted to know what’s going on with AI in Africa, Ben will fill you in. I hope you find him as interesting as I did.

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EPISODE #006
(27:00)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
JULIAN TOGELIUS

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In this episode of Eye on AI, I talk to Julian Togelius,  perhaps the most prolific researcher at the intersection of video games and artificial intelligence. Julian works on AI for games and games for AI. Some of his most significant work is in training deep neural networks to play video games and generalize what they have learned, a critical step toward artificial general intelligence. For those of you who don't understand the importance of video games to artificial intelligence research, Julian will enlighten you. For those of you who do his recent work will surprise you.  I hope you find Julian as interesting as I did.

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EPISODE #005
(22:07)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
MILES BRUNDAGE

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In this episode of Eye on AI, I talk to Miles Brundage, who studies the societal impacts of artificial intelligence and works on the policy team of OpenAI, the nonprofit A.I. research company founded by Elon Musk. When I spoke to Miles, he was a research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, where he remains an associate. We talked about the policy side of AI security and whether he is optimistic that regulations can steer machine learning applications away from the nightmare scenarios popularly imagined. I hope you find Miles as interesting as I did.

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EPISODE #004
(26:13)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
KAIFU LEE

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In this episode of Eye on AI, I talk to Kaifu Lee, a thought leader on AI in China. Kaifu just published the book, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. We talked about the premise of the book, which is that China has already caught up with the US in the field of AI and is poised to surpass it. While China may lag on basic research, it has the formula to excel in implementation. I hope you find Kaifu as interesting as I did.

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EPISODE #003
(27:34)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
MISHA BILENKO

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In this episode of Eye On AI, Craig talks to Misha Bilenko, head of AI at Yandex, the Google of Russia, about Vladimir Putin’s claim that whomever dominates AI will rule the world; about Yandex’s chatty virtual assistant, Alice; and how AI has made the dead poet Pushkin relevant today.

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EPISODE #002
(27:34)

FEATURING:
CRAIG SMITH
JACK CLARK

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In this archival episode of Eye on AI, Craig talks to Jack Clark, Strategy and Communications Director at OpenAI, a nonprofit A.I. research company, in a wide-ranging conversation off of things highlighted in Jack’s popular Import AI newsletter. Topics include whether A.I. will be used to trade cryptocurrencies; about A.I. used to speed up the creation of A.I. systems and how long will it be before A.I. does it all; evolution strategies as an alternative to reinforcement learning; the great global divide between ‘low compute’ and ‘high compute’ camps, with only a handful of companies and nation states controlling the bulk of the computing power; and when will the A.I. healthcare revolution finally begin as well as what does A.I. see when it looks at our tongues.

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EPISODE #001
(33:12)

FEATURING:
JACK CLARK
CRAIG SMITH

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In Episode 1 of Eye on AI, Craig talks to Jack Clark, Strategy and Communications Director at OpenAI, a nonprofit A.I. research company, in a wide-ranging conversation off of things highlighted in Jack’s popular Import AI newsletter. Topics include Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s comment that the advent of artificial intelligence to man’s discovery of fire; the chances that the world’s nation states can create and adhere to international norms governing A.I., preventing the spread of dangerous applications of the powerful technology; whether A.I. is escaping the labs of the tech giants and becoming more democratic; and whether A.I. eventually become a cognitive mirror to our own minds.

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