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9 Influential People and Companies Currently Shaping Robotics and AI.

Updated: May 21

A picture of various leaders in AI

1. Demis Hassabis

Demis Hassabis, an AI programmer, entrepreneur, and neuroscientist, rose to prominence in the field of artificial intelligence when he co-founded DeepMind Technologies in 2010. The company gained significant recognition and was subsequently acquired by Google in 2014.

DeepMind's most notable accomplishment to date is the development of AlphaGo, a groundbreaking program that demonstrated remarkable proficiency in the ancient Chinese game of Go. In 2016, AlphaGo astounded the world by defeating a human master in the game.

What sets this achievement apart is AlphaGo's unique approach to strategy. Unlike conventional computers, which rely on exhaustive computations to analyze all possible moves, AlphaGo taught itself to strategize in a manner more akin to human thinking. It achieved this without burdensome computational overhead, representing a significant leap forward in AI capabilities.

Expanding its repertoire beyond Go, the algorithm behind AlphaGo is now undergoing training in the iconic game Doom. The aim is to refine its prowess in navigating the virtual world and hone its shooting skills, paralleling human-like capabilities in this gaming domain.

2. Boston Dynamic

A man pushes a robot with a hockey stick

You may have come across those widely circulated videos depicting instances of robot bullying, where humans subject the machines to physical tests by nudging them with hockey sticks to test their dexterity. (The same videos that will eventually be used as evidence to justify our extermination by the robots by the way) These videos come courtesy of Boston Dynamic.

This company has recently seen itself sold off from its parent company Alphabet to Japanese tech company Softbank.

Boston Dynamic has been an innovator in creating robots that can walk, jump, run and navigate rough terrain with close to human dexterity.

They're also the creators of the robo-dog hellhounds that will eventually in some dystopian future chase us down and tear us apart.

Picture of Boston Dynamics Robots in a line

3. Sebastian Thrun

Sebastian Thrun is a computer scientist who could be considered an instrumental player in the development of the self-driving car industry. Thrun’s expertise and contribution to robotics have been theoretical. He published a textbook entitled Probabilistic Robotics and has made contributions to mobile robot localization, mapping and control.

Thrun works for Alphabet's subsidiary company, Waymo. This company has been making advances not only in making car AI that works but building it in a more cost-effective manner for car producers.

In April 2017 Waymo started testing self-driving taxis in Phoenix USA. If taxi drivers hate Uber drivers now, just wait 10 years, there won’t be any human drivers to hate at all.

A driverless vehicle

4. Elon Musk

When he’s not kicking back smokin’ big, fat doobs he’s busy being a business magnate, investor and technologist.

Not only does he want to get us to Mars with SpaceX, but he’s also a co-founder of Tesla, an electric car company that uses driverless technology.

He’s also the co-founder of Neuralink, a company that plans to insert computer chips into human brains to integrate us with technology.

Finally, he was also a co-founder of the company OpenAI but sold his share in the company in 2018, (some say the sounds of sobbing can still be heard from his window at night after that decision).

A diagram of an implant going into the brain

5. Andrew Ng

Andrew Ng is a computer scientist. He's a co-founder of Coursera, an online learning site. He cofounded and led Google Brain (a team that studies large-scale artificial neural networks) and worked for the Chinese company Baidu, a large internet and AI enterprise. This guy has had his finger in a lot of AI pies. He launched and leads AI Fund, an investment fund for backing new AI start-ups.

A photo of Andrew Ng

6. Jeff Dean

Jeff Dean is a computer scientist and the lead of Google AI, Google's AI division. Nick is at the heart of AI developments at Google and is pushing forward AI technologies for search engine effectiveness.

At the company he has been instrumental in areas relating to advertising, crawling, indexing and query serving systems.

He works on Distbelief, a machine-learning system for deep neural networks and TensorFlow, an open-source machine-learning software library.

7. Nick Bostrom

Founder of the Future of Humanity Institute and Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University, Nick Bostrom is a leading voice in considering the dangers and implications of AI development.

With a background in mathematics, logic and AI, he has published numerous books and articles and worked as an advisor to governments and organisations about AI technology.

He recently signed an open letter with Elon Musk and other notable technology experts warning of the dangers of AI.

8. iRobot

This company started out with a contract with the US Defense Department DARPA to build a robot that could climb stairs. Nailing that research project the company expanded into building vacuums that clean your floors all by themselves.

The company now claims 88% of the robot vacuum market. The company plans to expand its range into the future with a whole family of robots to do work in your home such as folding clothes and caring for the elderly.

The company has a new product out called Terra. Similar to their Roomba Vacuum, this robot will mow your backyard. Look out Spot.

A picture of a smart lawnmower

9. Kai Fu Lee

A prominent business figure in China’s tech scene and has had past involvement with large companies focused on AI such as Apple and Google. This man Kai has his finger on the pulse of where AI tech is going and has a large social media (@kaifulee) following to back his insights.

If you want to know how we will work and live in the future with AI he is touted as the leading expert in this area. Spoiler alert: He recently predicted that AI will put 40% of us out of a job within the next 15 years, bold predictions.

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