Thursday, February 22, 2024

While artificial intelligence has taken the limelight over the past year, technology that can appear to operate like human brains has been top of mind for researchers, investors, and tech executives in Silicon Valley and beyond for more than a decade. Here are some of the people involved in the origins of the modern A.I. movement who have influenced the technology’s development.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Sam Altman
Mr. Altman is the chief executive of OpenAI, the San Francisco A.I. lab that made the chatbot ChatGPT that went viral over the past year and ushered in recognition of the power of generative artificial intelligence. Mr. Altman helped start OpenAI after meeting with Elon Musk about the technology in 2015. At the time, Mr. Altman ran Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley start-up incubator.

Credit…Massimo Berruti for The New York Times

Dario Amodei
Mr. Amodei, an A.I. researcher who joined OpenAI early on, runs the A.I. start-up Anthropic. A former researcher at Google, he helped set OpenAI’s research direction but left in 2021 after disagreements about the path the company was taking. That year, he founded Anthropic, which is dedicated to creating safe A.I. systems.

Credit…Calla Kessler for The New York Times

Bill Gates
Mr. Gates, a founder of Microsoft and for many years the richest man in the world, was long skeptical of how powerful A.I. could become. Then in August 2022, he was given a demonstration of OpenAI’s GPT-4, the A.I. model underlying ChatGPT. After seeing what GPT-4 could do, Mr. Gates became an A.I. convert. His endorsement helped Microsoft move aggressively to capitalize on generative A.I.

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Demis Hassabis
Mr. Hassabis, a neuroscientist, is a founder of DeepMind, one of the most important labs of this wave of A.I. He secured financial backing to create DeepMind from the investor Peter Thiel and built a lab that produced AlphaGo, an A.I. software that shocked the world in 2016 when it beat the world’s best player of the board game Go. (Mr. Hassabis was an award-winning chess player as a teenager.) Google bought DeepMind, which is based in Britain, in 2014, and Mr. Hassabis is one of the company’s top A.I. executives.

Credit…Clara Mokri for The New York Times

Geoffrey Hinton
A professor at the University of Toronto, Mr. Hinton and two of his graduate students were responsible for neural networks, a key underlying technology of this wave of A.I. Neural networks captivated the tech industry, and Google quickly agreed to pay Mr. Hinton and his crew $44 million in 2012 to bring them on, beating out Microsoft and Baidu, a Chinese tech company.

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