The 75-year-old computer scientist Since 2013, after the tech giant acquired Hinton’s AI startup DNNresearch, he has split his time between the University of Toronto and Google. Hinton’s company was a spin-off from a research group working on machine learning for image recognition at the time. Google has used that technology to boost photo search and more.
Hinton has long called out the ethical questions surrounding AI, particularly its collaboration for military purposes. Part of the reason they chose to spend most of their careers in Canada was the ease of access to research funding unrelated to the US Department of Defense.
“Geoff has made fundamental breakthroughs in AI, and we appreciate his decades of contributions at Google,” said Jeff Dean, Google’s chief scientist. “I’ve really enjoyed the many conversations we’ve had over the years. I will miss him, and I wish him the best.”
Dean says: “As one of the first companies to adopt AI principles, we are committed to a responsible approach to AI. We are continually learning to understand the dangers that come with growing boldly.
Hinton is known for an algorithm he first proposed with two colleagues in the 1980s called backpropagation. A method for learning artificial neural networks underpins all machine learning models today. In short, back propagation is a way to repeatedly adjust the connections between artificial neurons until the neural network achieves the desired result.
Hinton believed that backpropagation mimicked how the biological mind learns. Since he is looking for better approximations, but he has never improved on it.