Lots of People Are Listening to the AI Podcast Right Now — and I Kind of Don’t Care

by Brian Caulfield

I’ve got a confession. You’re not the real audience for our AI Podcast. None of you are.

The real audience won’t arrive for 20 or 30 years. They’ll be people who will want to listen to the conversations we’ve been recording over the past 18 months with the people who we believe are defining the world in which coming generations will live.

That’s the thought, at least, that guides our conversations: we seek out people who are using deep learning as a lever to change the world. And we sit them down with our excellent host, Noah Kravitz, and ask them to tell us their story, one 20-minute session at a time.

We’re just letting you listen in.

It’s an experiment that’s gone better than we could’ve expected. Not only have episodes of the podcast been downloaded more than half a million times since launching in late 2016. We’ve found deep learning to be the thread we can follow to find some of the smartest people in the world today. These are the kind of people who are otherwise impossible to spot in the moment: the kind of people you’ll want to know more about decades from now.

And Noah, our host, asks just the kind of human, simple, egoless — sometimes sassy — questions you’d want to ask if you could go back to 1880 to question Thomas Edison’s one-time assistant, William Hammer, as he began mass production of electric lighting. Or to 1803 to talk to Richard Trevethick as he was harnessing the steam engine to power a new kind of transportation: the locomotive. And then Noah lets our guests talk.

Here’s a look at our latest three conversations.

Reinventing Every Retail Store — Steve Gu, Co-Founder and CEO of AiFi

Grab the goods and go. AiFi co-founder and CEO Steve Gu wants to give every store — from Mom and Pop bodegas to supermarket chains — the ability to let customers saunter out of the door without so much as a wave at a cashier.

The benefits involve more than just convenience: stores will have a better idea of how their customers behave and get a real-time bead on their inventory.

To do that, Gu and his team at startup AiFi rely on advanced sensor fusion, simulation and deep learning.

Unleashing Cheap, Clean Energy — William Tang, Principal Research Physicist, Princeton Plasma Physic Laboratory

Clean, cheap fusion energy would change everything for the better. William Tang has spent a career at the forefront of that field, currently as principal research physicist at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.

He’s also one of the world’s foremost experts on how the science of fusion energy and high performance computing intersect.

Now, he sees new tools — deep learning and artificial intelligence — being put to work to enable big-data-driven discovery in key scientific endeavors, such as the quest to deliver fusion energy.

Rebuilding the World, From the Molecules On Up — Olexandr Isayev, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy

Deep learning has helped machines understand how to move pieces around a board to master, and win at, Go, the most complicated game mankind has ever invented.

Now it’s helping a new generation of chemists better understand how to move molecules around to model new kinds of materials. Olexandr Isayev, an assistant professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joined our show to explain how deep learning, Go, sci-fi, and computational chemistry intersect.

How to Tune in to the AI Podcast

We’ve got more conversations to come. So tune in next week. Or better still, tune in 20 years from now. Either way, we aim to make this worth your time, whatever time you happen to be tuning in from.

The AI Podcast is available through iTunes, DoggCatcher, Google Play MusicOvercastPlayerFMPodbay, Pocket Casts, PodCruncher, PodKicker, Stitcher and Soundcloud. If your favorite isn’t listed here, email us at aipodcast[at]nvidia.com.