Dr. David Ferrucci is one of the few people who have created a benchmark in the history of AI because when IBM Watson won Jeopardy we reached a milestone many thought impossible. I was very privileged to have Ferrucci on my podcast in early 2012 when we spent an hour on Watson’s intricacies and importance. Well, it’s been almost 8 years since our original conversation and it was time to catch up with David to talk about the things that have happened in the world of AI, the things that didn’t happen but were supposed to, and our present and future in relation to Artificial Intelligence. All in all, I was super excited to have Ferrucci back on my podcast and hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
During this 90 min interview with David Ferffucci, we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: his perspective on IBM Watson; AI, hype and human cognition; benchmarks on the singularity timeline; his move away from IBM to the biggest hedge fund in the world; Elemental Cognition and its goals, mission and architecture; Noam Chomsky and Marvin Minsky‘s skepticism of Watson; deductive, inductive and abductive learning; leading and managing from the architecture down; Black Box vs Open Box AI; CLARA – Collaborative Learning and Reading Agent and the best and worst applications thereof; the importance of meaning and whether AI can be the source of it; whether AI is the greatest danger humanity is facing today; why technology is a magnifying mirror; why the world is transformed by asking questions.
My favorite quotes that I will take away from this conversation with David Ferrucci is:
Let our imagination drive the expectation for what AI is and what it does for us!
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Dr. David Ferrucci is the CEO, Founder and Chief Scientist of Elemental Cognition. Established in 2015, Elemental Cognition is an AI company focused on deep natural language understanding and explores methods of learning that result in explicable models of intelligence. Elemental Cognition’s mission is to change how machines learn, understand, and interact with humans. Elemental Cognition envisions a world where AI technology can serve as thought partners through building a shared understanding and is capable of revealing the ‘why’ behind it’s answer.
Dr. Ferrucci is the award-winning Artificial Intelligence Researcher who built and led the IBM Watson team from its inception through its landmark Jeopardy success in 2011. Dr. Ferrucci was awarded the title of IBM Fellow in 2011 and his work in AI earned numerous awards including the CME Innovation award and the AAAI Feigenbaum Prize. From 2011 through 2012, Dr. Ferrucci pioneered Watson’s applications which helped lay the technical foundation for the IBM Watson Division. After nearly 20 years at IBM research, Dr. Ferrucci joined Bridgewater Associates in 2013 to explore applications of AI in markets and management based on a synergy with Bridgewater’s deep commitment to explicable machine intelligence.
Dr. Ferrucci graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Ph.D. in Computer Science. He has 50+ patents and published papers in the areas of AI, Automated Reasoning, NLP, Intelligent Systems Architectures, Automatic Text Generation, and Automatic Question-Answering. He led numerous projects prior to Watson including AI systems for manufacturing, configuration, document generation, and standards for large-scale text and multi-modal analytics. Dr. Ferrucci has keynoted in highly distinguished venues around the world including many of the top computing conferences. He has been interviewed by many media outlets on AI including: The New York Times, PBS, Financial Times, Bloomberg and the BBC. Dr. Ferrucci serves as an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.