AI Podcast: Andrew Ng on the ‘New Electricity’

by Allison Toh

Purple shirts, haircuts, and cats. How are these three all related? According to Andrew Ng, they all played a part in AI’s growing presence in our lives.

Ng, formerly of Google and Baidu, and the founder of his new company,, joined this week’s episode of the AI Podcast to share his thoughts on AI being the new electricity.

To expand on his metaphor, Ng pointed out how when electricity was invented, it changed industries from agriculture to healthcare. And now, AI is doing the same.

“One thing I look forward to is I think your listeners are listening to this on what may be an electric-powered phone or electric-powered radio, but we don’t even use that term anymore,” said Ng in a conversation with Michael Copeland, host of the AI Podcast. “I actually look forward to the day where our self-driving car is no longer an ‘AI-powered self-driving car’ but is just a ‘car.’”

According to Ng, we are still trying to define what being an AI company means, and “figuring out what are the things that we will look back on and say: ‘Wow, these were really important for building a company to leverage AI capabilities.’”

Upon reflecting on his own early adoption of using the GPU for machine learning and AI, Ng praised those who were able to detect the AI trend before others, giving NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang a shout out.

“I find that one of the things about innovators is sometimes when you see the signals that something is going to work, you just have to make the leap,” Ng said. “You don’t build consensus. When you have a conviction, just go for it.”

Ng also hopes that more business leaders will begin acknowledging AI and how it’s transforming industries.

“Just as today I see a lot of S&P 500 CEOs that wish they had started thinking about their Internet strategy or their mobile strategy five years earlier, I think that in the future we’ll see a lot of leaders that will wish they had started to think about their AI strategy earlier,” said Ng.

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The next stroke of genius could come from AI. If you missed last week’s episode, doctoral student Paul Wigley, from the Autralian National University, shares results from his team’s recent research applying AI to physics.

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