Episode 13: A Conversation with Bryan Catanzaro

In this episode, Byron and Bryan talk about sentience, transfer learning, speech recognition, autonomous vehicles, and economic growth.

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Guest

Bryan Catanzaro is vice president of Applied Deep Learning Research at NVIDIA, where he leads a team solving problems in fields ranging from video games to chip design. Catanzaro initially worked at NVIDIA as a research scientist in 2011. During this time, he wrote the prototype and drove the creation of CUDNN, the low-level library now used by most AI researchers to train neural networks. He has also worked at Baidu's Silicon Valley AI Lab, where he built systems for efficiently training end-to-end deep learning based speech recognition on extremely large datasets, in both English and Chinese. Catanzaro earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, where he built the Copperhead language and compiler, which allows Python programmers to use nested data parallel abstractions efficiently. He earned both his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science from Brigham Young University, where he worked on computer arithmetic for FPGAs.​

Transcript

Byron Reese: This is “Voices in AI” brought to you by Gigaom. I’m Byron Reese. Today, our guest is Bryan Catanzaro. He is the head of Applied AI Research at NVIDIA. He has a BS in computer science and Russian from BYU, an MS in electrical engineering from BYU, and a PhD in both electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley. Welcome to the show, Bryan.

Bryan Catanzaro: Thanks. It’s great to be here.

Let’s start off with my favorite opening question. What is artificial intelligence?

It’s such a great question. I like to think about artificial intelligence as making tools that can perform intellectual work. Hopefully, those are useful tools that can help people be more productive in the things that they need to do. There’s a lot of different ways of thinking about artificial intelligence, and maybe the way that I’m talking about it is a little bit more narrow, but I think it’s also a little bit more connected with why artificial intelligence is changing so many companies and so many things about the way that we do things in the world economy today is because it actually is a practical thing that helps people be more productive in their work. We’ve been able to create industrialized societies with a lot of mechanization that help people do physical work. Artificial intelligence is making tools that help people do intellectual work.

I ask you what artificial intelligence is, and you said it’s doing intellectual work. That’s sort of using the word to define it, isn’t it? What is that? What is intelligence?