Cover of "Genius Makers" by Cade Metz
Cade Metz has had a dream job for the last decade. He has been hanging out with the people responsible for the most important technological developments of our time. He has had a ringside seat at what may turn out to be the pivotal episode in human history.
The book he has written about it, Genius Makers is based on 400 interviews conducted over eight years for Wired and The New York Times, plus another 100 carried out specifically for the book. Many of the people he has interviewed are larger-than-life characters, and given the egos involved and the prizes at stake, there is plenty of drama. If he isnt already in negotiations with someone over the film rights, he probably should be.
Unsurprisingly for a journalist, Metz has a breezy style that is easy and fun to read. He has collected some great anecdotes and aphorisms. If you have already been following closely the events the book describes, you might not learn much, but it will deepen your appreciation for the characters. If you havent been following the development of modern AI, then it will help you understand why there is so much fuss about it.
Many of the anecdotes are about Geoff Hinton, the British AI researcher who kept a flame burning for neural networks through many dark years, and Metz opens and closes his story with him. Hinton is an eccentric, clever, and complicated man: his response to an email asking whether he preferred to be called Geoffrey or Geoff "was equal parts clever and endearing:
I prefer Geoffrey.
Several times, the book describes the difficulties caused by the fact that for fifteen years, Hinton has been unable to sit down, due to a badly slipped disc. He can lie down, or he can stand. Hinton explains it with his characteristic laconic humour: Its been a long-standing problem.
Most of the people in this book are very clever indeed, and they like to display it in their humour. Googles senior engineer Jeff Dean is revered for his ability to wrangle large computer systems; Googlers say that the speed of light in a vacuum used to be 35mph, until Jeff Dean spent a weekend optimising physics. They quip that Deans PIN code is easy to hack in theory. It is the last four digits of Pi.
The book isnt organised this way, but Metz describes five phases in the rise of deep learning, which has brought AI to such prominent public attention. In the first phase, Marvin Minsky kills the neural net idea pioneered by Frank Rosenblatt. Minsky is something of a villain in this narrative. The second phase is Hintons Long March. The Chinese Communists only had to march for a year; poor Geoff Hinton had to keep his faith alive for three decades.
He was finally vindicated in the third phase, the AI Big Bang of 2012, when he and his students won the ImageNet competition for image recognition, which led to Google paying $44m for his company in a bidding war against Microsoft and Baidu. Even this was small beer compared with the $650m that Google then paid for DeepMind, a company with 50 employees and no revenues.
The fourth phase was the disappointment and disarray which set in over fake news, and bias in decision-making algorithms. This confusion was lifted slightly in the fifth phase by the arrival of BERT, which stands for bi-directional encoded transformers, a type of natural language processing AI which has produced astonishing results in translation, search, and prose composition.
It is slightly disappointing that Metz doesnt try harder to explain how these technologies actually work. He echoes Richard Feynmans comment that if he could explain the work that won him the Nobel Prize to a layperson, then it wouldnt have been worth the Prize. But Feynman also said that if you cant explain something in simple terms, then you havent really understood it.
Another quibble is that Metz never gives his own assessment of how far AI has really advanced. There is a fierce debate in AI circles about whether the technology has made genuine progress, or whether it is mostly hype. Some think artificial general intelligence is near, while others say that todays systems show no sign of intelligence at all. Some of this boils down to people using different definitions of intelligence, but the answer is hugely significant. There is also resentment on the part of people who have been using the same tools for decades at being told there is a new kid on the block, just because the compute power available is vastly increased, and there is also a great deal more data. It would have been interesting to hear Metzs thoughts on this.
But the book is undeniably charming, and part of that charm is that Metz greatly likes and admires many of his characters. The elegiac final chapter featuring Hinton is genuinely moving. There are also characters about whom Metz is not so sure. Gary Marcus, the contrarian who continually denigrates the achievements of AI systems, is a lovable narcissist, and Metz seems none too keen on Google chairman Eric Schmidt, whom he describes as addressing his audience as he always didas if he knew more than anyone else in the room. He also seems ambivalent about Facebooks Mark Zuckerberg, who has an almost robotic demeanour, blinking his eyes unusually often and, from time to time, making an unconscious clicking sound at the back of his throat that seems like some sort of glitch in the machine.
The reader is left with an intriguing comparison between the worlds two most significant AI labs. Both of them have the avowed goal of creating artificial general intelligence. Both of them think this development is inevitable, and that it should be an overwhelmingly beneficial outcome for humanity. They differ about the timescale - but not by all that much, in the scheme of things. DeepMinds CEO Demis Hassabis thinks AGI might arrive by the end of this century. OpenAIs CEO Sam Altman thinks it will arrive much sooner, maybe within a couple of decades. If either of them is right, we should probably all be paying a lot more attention to the implications.
Go here to see the original:
The Mavericks Who Brought AI to the World - Review of Genius Makers by Cade Metz - Forbes
- Validation and clinical applicability of a deep learning system for retinal disease (Tuesday, 10th August 2021) City, University of London - City,... - June 16th, 2021
- Physical works out the dark side of the mind in an honest way - Metro US - June 16th, 2021
- The Number One Voice Certain To Drive Your Leadership Off The Deep End - Forbes - June 16th, 2021
- Consumer Companies Bail on Non-Core Assets: "Deep is the New Wide" - Mergers & Acquisitions - June 16th, 2021
- Bengio Team Proposes Flow Network-Based Generative Models That Learn a Stochastic Policy From a Sequence of Actions - Synced - June 16th, 2021
- It's more than just skin-deep: Feel and look amazing with Bubble Skincare | Sponsored - Harvard Crimson - June 16th, 2021
- AI in Healthcare Market Drivers, Challenges, Opportunities and Competitive Strategy Over 2021-2031 | Nuance Communications, Inc., DeepMind... - June 16th, 2021
- NVIDIA and the battle for the future of AI chips - Wired.co.uk - June 16th, 2021
- Accelerating Deep Learning on the JVM with Apache Spark and NVIDIA GPUs - InfoQ.com - June 16th, 2021
- AI in Europe: Who's leading the way and where is it heading? - Siliconrepublic.com - June 16th, 2021
- Review: Bo Burnhams Inside is a successful depiction of a lonely mind - Los Angeles Times - June 16th, 2021
- Alma Allens biomorphic sculptures have minds of their own - Wallpaper* - June 16th, 2021
- AI In Healthcare Market Rapid Growth USD 120 Bn by 2028| IBM Corporation, NVIDIA Corporation, Nuance Communications, Microsoft, Intel Corporation,... - June 16th, 2021
- Microsoft & OneFlow Leverage the Efficient Coding Principle to Design Unsupervised DNN Structure-Learning That Outperforms Human-Designed... - June 4th, 2021
- Machine Learning Artificial intelligence Market Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends And Forecast To 2027 | AIBrain, Amazon, Anki,... - June 4th, 2021
- Mind the gap: why training is vital to pursuing transgender inclusion - TrainingZone.co.uk - June 4th, 2021
- Phaidra raises more cash from Mark Cuban and others to build the future of industrial automation - GeekWire - May 24th, 2021
- DeepMind reportedly lost a yearslong bid to win more independence from Google - The Verge - May 24th, 2021
- Aging With Honor and Dignity: An Intuitive Approach for Men - The Good Men Project - May 24th, 2021
- Damien Harris clearly wouldn't mind a trade that lands Julio Jones with Patriots - Patriots Wire - May 24th, 2021
- AI in Healthcare Market Rugged Expansion Foreseen by 2031 | Nuance Communications, Inc., DeepMind Technologies Limited, IBM Corporation The Courier -... - May 24th, 2021
- AI in Healthcare Market in deep Research about Growth & Competitive Analysis by 2021-2031 | Nuance Communications, Inc., DeepMind Technologies... - May 24th, 2021
- Dallas Comedy House Will Reopen With a New Name and Look - Eater Dallas - May 24th, 2021
- 3 Major Benefits of a Long-Term Insurance Carrier Relationship - Senior Housing News - May 24th, 2021
- IoT Cloud Company Tuya Smart Holds Meeting on Fast-tracked Connectivity and Innovation Amid COVID-19 Pandemic - Synced - May 24th, 2021
- DeepMind extends hunt for the worlds best A.I. researchers to Toronto - CNBC - May 10th, 2021
- ECO V2 by Pangeanic: Deep Adaptive Machine Translation Document Translator and Anonymization Solution - PRNewswire - May 10th, 2021
- Matters of the Mind: Compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and hopelessness - The Indian Express - May 10th, 2021
- Prison education alums work with undergrads on theater piece | Cornell Chronicle - Cornell Chronicle - May 10th, 2021
- AI in Healthcare Market Insights, Deep Analysis of Key Vendor in the Industry 2021-2030 | Nuance Communications, Inc., DeepMind Technologies Limited,... - May 2nd, 2021
- Matisse & Sadko unveil the mind bending progressive tune 'Heal Me' - We Rave You - May 2nd, 2021
- The Deep-Sea Podcast review: The mind-boggling mysteries of the deep - New Scientist - May 1st, 2021
- Three Books: Zena Hitz *05 on a Life of the Mind - Princeton Alumni Weekly - May 1st, 2021
- Flavor 1st has Georgia on its mind | Produce News - TheProduceNews.com - May 1st, 2021
- Young attorney digs deep to make a genuine mark in the profession - Loop News Jamaica - May 1st, 2021
- Figures of Speech: 40 Ways to Improve your Writing - Visual Capitalist - May 1st, 2021
- Tony Bailie's Take on Nature: Bear in mind the simple principles of Leave No Trace - The Irish News - May 1st, 2021
- Food & Wine names 10 best pizza states in America and New York isnt in the top spot - KXAN.com - May 1st, 2021
- Essence Group Announces 'Peace of Mind' Strategy as Top Objective of All Future IoT Products and Services - PRNewswire - April 28th, 2021
- Centring of The Mind - Economic Times - April 28th, 2021
- PLU professors and students dive deep into the psychology of the pandemic - Pacific Lutheran University - April 28th, 2021
- Derby Undercard: Eclipse Winner Whitmore is a fan favorite in deep field of 13 for the Churchill Downs - Past The Wire - April 28th, 2021
- How Luxury Travel Is Leading the Recovery: A Skift Deep Dive - Skift - April 28th, 2021
- 'I recall it with deep despair': North Sea marks five years since Norway helicopter crash - News for the Oil and Gas Sector - Energy Voice - April 28th, 2021
- Single-Use Plastics Found at the Deepest Points of the Ocean - Technology Networks - April 28th, 2021
- Global Ai In Healthcare Market Top 10 Key players in 2021 |DeepMind Technologies Limited, IBM Corporation, Nuance Communications Inc, Microsoft,... - April 28th, 2021
- Has pharma missed the boat? - PharmaTimes - April 28th, 2021
- BlanQuil weighted blankets: Products and brand review - Medical News Today - April 28th, 2021
- A New Book Explores the Connections Between Music, Physics, and Neuroscience - Columbia University - April 28th, 2021
- Global Mindfulness Meditation Apps Market (2020) to Witness Huge Growth by 2026 | Deep Relax, Smiling Mind, Inner Explorer, Inc., Committee for... - April 19th, 2021
- Line of Duty, season 6 episode 5 recap: Davidson is in deep but who fired those cliffhanger shots? - The Telegraph - April 19th, 2021
- Calvin University Selects Noah Toly As Provost - News - Calvin News - April 19th, 2021
- I'm an insomniac who's tried everything from meds to sleep sprays. This meditation app is the only thing that' - Business Insider India - April 19th, 2021
- 'We've had this in mind for some time' - Gosden aims for another Blue Riband win - Racing Post - April 19th, 2021
- What two pieces of unrelated pop culture are forever connected in your mind? - The A.V. Club - April 19th, 2021
- Bringing China-US ties where they need to be - Chinadaily.com.cn - China Daily - April 8th, 2021
- Deep in the heart of the Texas Butterfly Ranch - The Picayune - April 8th, 2021
- Cultivating a Diverse and Inclusive Culture: Recruiting - ATD - ATD - ATD - April 8th, 2021
- 'I can't unsee them': Rockland woman copes with trauma from Haiti earthquake by writing - Enterprise News - April 8th, 2021
- Q&A: How The Atlantic's Ed Yong navigated a year of deep coronavirus coverage - Poynter - April 8th, 2021
- Healthcare AI Market 2021 Is Rapidly Increasing Worldwide in Near Future | Top Companies Analysis- Apple, GE Healthcare, Google Deepmind Health, IBM... - April 8th, 2021
- Easter is when we go deep into the enduring stories of death and life - The National - April 4th, 2021
- How Open Source is Driving the Future of Data Science - RTInsights - April 4th, 2021
- Space Regime in Deep Distress: Experts The Diplomat - The Diplomat - April 4th, 2021
- Gulf News webinar to focus on fasting with health conditions during Ramadan | Uae - Gulf News - April 4th, 2021
- When it rains, it floods, and you better know what to do - Columbia Daily Herald - April 4th, 2021
- Opera Meets Film: How Opera is Used to Immerse Us Deeper into Anthony's Mind in 'The Father' - OperaWire - April 2nd, 2021
- Dive Deep Into These Mind-Blowing Underwater Photographer of the Year Entries - Yahoo News - April 2nd, 2021
- Sunfield Farm and Waldorf School dig deep to the root of learning - Port Townsend Leader - April 2nd, 2021
- Dear Eonni: A Filipino UAENA respects Lilac singer IU as a lyricist because her songs are 'active and awake' - PINKVILLA - April 2nd, 2021
- AI in Healthcare Market Is Set to Experience Revolutionary Growth by 2030 | Nuance Communications, Inc., DeepMind Technologies Limited KSU | The... - April 2nd, 2021
- Brain Tracking: Unraveling Mysteries of the Human Mind - WGEM - April 2nd, 2021
- On My Mind: The Solution To Gun Violence? More Guns, Apparently - WFAE - April 2nd, 2021
- System on Chips And The Modern Day Motherboards - Analytics India Magazine - April 2nd, 2021
- Artificial Intelligence Drug R&D: Market By New Business Developments, Innovations, And Top Companies Forecast To 2025 | Gatehouse Bio, Google... - April 2nd, 2021
- Artificial intelligence kept expanding through a turbulent year, with some exceptions - ZDNet - March 21st, 2021
- The Book Corner: The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes - University Press - March 21st, 2021
- 12-foot-deep sinkhole 'accidentally' discovered near Williams Arts Center The Lafayette - The Lafayette - March 21st, 2021
- DeepMind is building a team of A.I. researchers in New York - CNBC - March 16th, 2021
- AI & Robotics in the Global Defense Industry to Reach $61 Billion by 2027 - Robotics Anticipated to Account for the Largest Share of Expenditure -... - March 16th, 2021