Nobel prize of tech awarded to 'godfathers of AI'

Geoffrey Hinton

Computers have become so smart during the past 20 years that people don't think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures. In the 1950s, Turing developed a test for discerning whether a machine could be classed as being "intelligent" or not, and suggested that, like a human mind, a computer could be subjected to a course of education to learn about the world around it.

The ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) this morning announced Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun and Yoshua Bengio as its 2018 Turing Award winners. The recipients will be awarded a $1 million prize, with financial support provided by Google.

Bengio remains immersed in academia as a University of Montreal professor in addition to serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec. "During that decade, for example, LeCun developed 'convolutional" neural networks, a foundational principle in the field that's been essential in making deep learning more efficient.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun will be recognised at the official awards ceremony in June 2019.


"Deep neural networks are responsible for some of the greatest advances in modern computer science, helping make substantial progress on long-standing problems in computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language understanding", said Jeff Dean, Google Senior Fellow and SVP, Google AI. He also published several groundbreaking studies, including a seminal paper demonstrating that the strength of the connections within a neural network can dramatically improve the learning capability of software systems.

Hinton, in an interview ahead of the announcement, said he believes deep learning will eventually allow computers to have human-like or even super-human intelligence. Yann LeCun is a Professor at New York University and Vice President and Chief AI scientist at Facebook. "They thought we were very misguided and what we were doing was a very surprising thing for apparently intelligent people to waste their time on".

'My message to young researchers is, don't be put off if everyone tells you what are doing is silly, ' he added. For instance, LeCun and Bengio worked together at Bell Labs in the early 90s while LeCun worked on his postdoctoral research under the supervision of Hilton.

Although they have known each other for than 30 years, Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have mostly worked separately on technology known as neural networks.

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