Creating one company is challenging enough. But not for British-born Chinese American computer scientist Andrew Yan-Tak Ng (1976). One of today’s leading experts in artificial intelligence and machine learning, he has built and invested in a whole host of companies with the aim of furthering research in AI, applying it to everyday problems and democratizing its use.
Although Andrew is very discreet about his childhood and private life, it appears that he began dabbling in machine learning as an undergraduate. And, since then, he has never looked back. Convinced that everyone should have access to free education, he pioneered MOOCs while teaching at Stanford University and built on this success to launch worldwide learning platform Coursera, and then deeplearning.ai — millions of students around the world have already delved into deep learning through his online courses.
“Deep Learning is a superpower. With it you can make a computer see, synthesize novel art, translate languages, render a medical diagnosis, or build pieces of a car that can drive itself.”
Pushing the limits
Ever curious and dedicated to AI, he was a founding member of Google Brain, the search engine’s AI research team — which would have been called Project Marvin, if Andrew hadn’t found the allusion to the paranoid android in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy too depressing. This was also when he made some feline friends — the team created a neural network of 16,000 computer processors that used deep learning algorithms to recognize cats in YouTube videos. In 2014, he joined Chinese technology company Baidu as Chief Scientist in charge of AI research.
But by 2017, he was looking for fresh challenges. He wanted to advance AI beyond tech to reach ordinary people. And so, he set up AI Fund, an investment fund for AI startups to develop innovative solutions to everyday challenges — from Zest AI that optimizes credit underwriting to Woebot, the “charming robot friend” that helps look after your mental health. And if that wasn’t enough, he also founded Landing AI, a company that provides transformation programs and solutions to “empower companies to jumpstart Artificial Intelligence and generate real-world value.”
Far more than just a successful entrepreneur, today, he continues to tirelessly drive advances in AI whether through his companies, as an adjunct professor at Stanford or via online courses open to all.
Advanced reinforced learning
Andrew Ng joins the computer science department at Stanford University. One of his early projects involves developing one of the world’s most advanced autonomous helicopters via reinforced learning.
Andrew Ng is listed as a “pioneer” in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people list.
The machine learning guide for everyone
Andrew Ng writes "Machine Learning Yearning", a practical guide for anyone interested in machine learning, which he distributes for free.