THE ALAN TURING AWARD, considered to be the unofficial Nobel Prize for Computing, has been won by three trailblazers in the field of artificial intelligence (AI).
The prize, funded by Google and delivered by the Association for Computing Machinery in honour of British War Hero and King Boffin Alan Turing, was awarded to Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun, making them a cool $1m richer.
The three are credited with coming up with the founding concepts of neural networking for computers.
Bengio is Professor at the University of Montreal and Scientific Director at Mila, Quebec's Artificial Intelligence Institute; Hinton is VP and Engineering Fellow of Google, chief scientific adviser of The Vector Institute, and University Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto; and LeCun is Professor at New York University and VP and chief AI scientist, Facebook.
The three have worked individually on projects, but have also collaborated to bring it all together and have "contributed engineering advances that demonstrated the practical advantages of deep neural networks."
The three have been working on neural networks since the concept originated back in the eighties, and remained committed to it when doubt and alternative started to creep in at the start of the millennium.
They are credited as reigniting interest in the concepts that are now the "norm" leading to the mass adoption and development of artificial intelligence in recent years - mostly as the hardware catches up.
"Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society," said ACM President Cherri M. Pancake.
"The growth of and interest in AI is due, in no small part, to the recent advances in deep learning for which Bengio, Hinton and LeCun laid the foundation. These technologies are used by billions of people,
"Anyone who has a smartphone in their pocket can tangibly experience advances in natural language processing and computer vision that were not possible just 10 years ago. In addition to the products we use every day, new advances in deep learning have given scientists powerful new tools—in areas ranging from medicine, to astronomy, to materials science."
The trio will receive the award at a banquet in San Francisco in June. μ
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