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Some Cool AI People Who Didn't Make the TIME List
Today TIME magazine published a list of who they consider to be the top 100 most important people in the field of artificial intelligence. There were a lot of great people on the list and this post isn’t meant to be a knock on any of them, or on TIME magazine. But I think some important people were also missing — particularly some of the non-famous researchers behind recent technical breakthroughs in the field, as well as some great AI communicators and teachers.
Anyway here’s a quick list of some people doing cool work in the field, who I recommend checking out. If you think of anyone else who ought to be on here, let me know and I’ll add them if I agree.
Computer Scientists / Researchers
Ashish Vaswani - Inventor of transformers, the type of neural network architecture behind large language models like ChatGPT. Famous paper introducing transformers here. Beginner-friendly explanation here. Maybe the single person who deserves the most credit for the recent success of LLMs.
David Silver - Led development of AlphaGo, the first computer program to beat a human world champion at the board game Go. AlphaGo research paper here. Also worked on AlphaZero, the successor to AlphaGo. Interview on the Lex Fridman podcast.
John Jumper - Led the development of AlphaFold, a program that predicts a protein’s 3D structure from its sequence of amino acids — a very tough problem, and relevant to drug development / biotechnology. AlphaFold research paper here.
George Hotz - Old-school hacker who originally became famous for figuring out how to jailbreak the iPhone when he was 17. Currently working on Comma AI (semi-autonomous driving) and Tiny Corp. Both have a cool business model: completely open source software, combined with for-profit sales of hardware. Recent interview on the Lex Fridman podcast. Recent debate with Eliezer Yudkowsky on AI safety.
Communicators / Educators
Dwarkesh Patel - Host of an awesome podcast, with lots of great episodes on AI and other topics. Probably my favorite podcast of all time.
Lex Fridman - This might be an unpopular opinion actually. Lately it seems like a lot of people are hating on Lex, but I’m a fan of him and enjoy his podcast. I know he gets criticized for some of his non-technical questions, but I enjoy those parts of the conversations too.
Ajeya Cotra - Researcher at Open Philanthropy, including work on AI safety and alignment. Here’s an interview she did on the 80,000 Hours podcast about this topic. Co-writes the Planned Obsolescence blog about AI alignment.
Kelsey Piper - The other co-writer of the Planned Obsolescence blog on AI alignment. On another note, she had some of the best coverage of the COVID-19 lab leak hypothesis that I saw in the media — solid evidence-based reporting without an axe to grind in either direction.
Harrison Kinsley (Sentdex) - Youtuber with awesome tutorials on machine learning in Python, and a great textbook on how to write a neural network from scratch. His Youtube channel is here. Definitely learned more from his channel than I learned from any college class.
Andrew Ng - Actually Andrew Ng DID make the TIME list, but his Youtube course on the basics of machine learning is so good that I think it’s worth mentioning him again and having him on this list too.
Martin Shkreli - This is the “Pharma Bro” guy who was in prison for 6 and a half years for committing securities fraud. At first I had a pretty negative opinion of him (like everyone else in the world). But weirdly, the more I hear from him, the more he seems pretty cool. For example in this recent interview he tells some funny stories from his time in jail, including smuggling in contraband Python textbooks to teach programming basics to the other inmates. Anyway the reason I’m including him on this list is because of his Dr Gupta AI project — basically an attempt to make an LLM chatbot physician. Right now the Dr Gupta project is still in its early stage, and I wouldn’t trust it as much as a human doctor, but I’m excited about these types of projects and definitely rooting for it to succeed. It would be awesome if AI could replace some expensive physician labor and help bring down healthcare costs.