Fei-Fei Li, often known as the “Godmother of A.I.,” has spent greater than 20 years within the discipline of artificial intelligence, growing the groundbreaking expertise and advocating for its use in moral methods.
Now, Li helms Stanford College’s artificial intelligence lab, the place the professor leads a group of graduate college students educating robots to imitate human conduct. She additionally leads a marketing campaign that advocates for all A.I. being pushed by folks, and has taken that message to Congress.
Li, 47, advocates for bringing artificial intelligence to healthcare, and has suggested President Joe Biden on the pressing want for extra public-sector funding in order that the U.S. can grow to be the worldwide chief within the expertise.
Regardless of her achievements within the discipline, she’s uncomfortable along with her nickname.
“I might by no means name myself that,” she mentioned. “I do not know easy methods to steadiness my private discomfort with the truth that, all through historical past, males are all the time known as godfathers of one thing.”
Li made a serious breakthrough within the discipline years in the past when she constructed a system to show computer systems to acknowledge or “see” thousands and thousands of photographs and describe the world round us. She known as it “ImageNet,” and on the time, many doubted it, with one colleague even telling her that it was too massive of a leap too far forward of its time.
In 2012, ImageNet was used to energy a deep studying neural community algorithm known as AlexNet, developed by. That turned a mannequin for A.I. fashions like ChatGPT which can be common immediately.
“I believe that while you see one thing that is too early, it is typically a special manner of claiming ‘We’ve not seen this earlier than,'” Li mentioned. “In hindsight, we guess on one thing we have been proper about. Our speculation of A.I. must be data-driven, and data-centric was the best speculation.”
When she’s not engaged on A.I., Li is attempting to carry extra folks into the world of artificial intelligence and expertise. She is the co-founder of AI4ALL, a company that pushes for extra range within the discipline.
“We do not have sufficient range for this expertise,” Li mentioned. “We’re seeing enhancements, there’s extra ladies, however the variety of college students from numerous backgrounds, particularly folks of coloration, we’ve got an extended solution to go.”
Li can also be the writer of a memoir “The Worlds I See.” Inside its pages, she paperwork her hardscrabble beginnings and immigration to the U.S. from China as a baby and her rise to the highest of her discipline. It wasn’t a linear path: Her household immigrated to New Jersey in a transfer that she mentioned turned her world the other way up, and at numerous factors in her life, she labored odd jobs, like working at her dad and mom’ dry cleansing store in faculty and doing shifts at a Chinese language restaurant for simply $2 an hour.
“I do not know the way it occurred,” she mentioned. “You are uprooted from all the pieces you knew. You do not even know the language, and also you see the challenges you are coping with.”
These experiences helped mildew Li into the groundbreaking expertise chief she is immediately, and her onerous work resulted in a virtually full trip to Princeton College, the place she studied physics earlier than incomes a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Expertise.
Throughout the memoir, Li additionally notes her lingering doubts about her work in artificial intelligence, saying in a single passage that she feels a “twinge of culpability” within the growth of the expertise, which she describes as one thing a phenomenon and accountability that is able to each destruction and inspiration.
“As a result of we’re seeing the implications, and lots of of them are unintended, in ushering this expertise, I do really feel we’ve got extra accountability as scientists and expertise leaders and educators than simply creating the tech,” she mentioned. “I do not wish to give company to A.I. itself. It is going for use by folks, and the ability lies inside folks.”