Andrew Ng: AI specialist and technology entrepreneur

AI Magazine takes a look at the work of Andre Ng, a computer scientist, technology entrepreneur, AI and machine learning specialist and Landing AI’s CEO

British-born Andrew Ng has had a rich career in the technology industry as Co-Founder and Head of Google Brain, former Chief Scientist at Baidu and Co-Founder of Coursera. At Baidu, Ng built the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) sector into a team of several people.

In an interview with Lex Fridman, Ng shared where his passion for the industry started: “ Growing up in Hong Kong and Singapore, I started learning to code when I was five or six years old. At that time I was learning the BASIC programming language and they would take these folks and they’ll tell you type this program into your computer.”

“So I typed out programs on my computer and as the result of all the typing, I would get to play these very simple, shoot them up games that I had implemented on my little computer. So I thought it was fascinating as a young kid that I could write this code. I was really just copying code from a book into my computer to then play these cool little video games. Another moment for me was when I was a teenager and my father was a doctor was reading about expert systems and about neural networks. So he got me to read some of these books and I thought it was really cool that you could write a computer that started to exhibit intelligence.” he continued.

Now, Ng is the CEO of Landing AI, an AI company that supports others with limited datasets to realise the business and operational value of AI and move AI projects from proof-of-concept to full-scale production.

Speaking to MIT Technology Review about joining Landing AI, Ng said: “After heading the AI teams at Google and Baidu, I realised that AI has transformed software consumer internet, like web search and online advertising. But I wanted to take AI to all of the other industries, which is an even bigger part of the economy. So after looking at a lot of different industries, I decided to focus on manufacturing. I think that multiple industries are AI-ready, but one of the patterns for an industry being more AI-ready is if it’s undergone some digital transformation so there’s some data. That creates an opportunity for AI teams to come in to use the data to create value.”

The entrepreneur is also an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University. In 2011, Ng led the development of Stanford University’s main MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) platform and also taught an online Machine Learning class that was offered to over 100,000 students, leading to the founding of Coursera, a U.S.-based massive open online course provider.

Ng: influential computer scientist and AI leader

A passionate AI leader, Ng has spearheaded many efforts to democratise deep learning and from his work has become an influential computer scientist. In 2012, he was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in 2012, and Fast Company's Most Creative People in 2014. 

In 2018, Ng then went on to launch the AI fund, a US$175mn investment fund for backing artificial intelligence startups. With this, his vision was to have to have small teams working on projects that can evolve into larger companies.

As of 2020, three of most popular courses on Coursera are Ng's: Machine Learning, AI for Everyone and Neural Networks and Deep Learning.

Through his own research, Ng focuses on machine learning, deep learning, machine perception, computer vision, and natural language processing. For this work, the computer scientist has frequently won best paper awards at academic conferences and has had a huge impact on the field of AI, computer vision, and robotics.

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