Penn Arts & Sciences Logo


Friday, April 25, 2014 - 12:00pm

IRCS Conference Room

Oren Etzioni
Director, Allen Institute for AI
University of Washington

The Battle for the Future of AI

Deep learning has catapulted to the front page of the New York Times, formed the core of the so-called "Google brain," and achieved impressive results in vision, speech recognition, and elsewhere. Yet researchers have offered simple conundrums that deep learning doesn't address. For example:

The large ball crashed right through the table because it was made of styrofoam.

What was made of styrofoam?

  • the large ball
  • the table

The answer is obviously "the table", but if we change the word "Styrofoam" to "steel", the answer is clearly "the large ball." To answer this type of question, AI systems require natural-language understanding, an extensive body of common-sense knowledge, and the ability reason tractably with this knowledge. These capabilities are very far afield from deep learning.

Where will the field of AI go in the coming decade? My talk will lay explore these questions, and describe the approach we are taking in the new Allen Institute for AI towards the acquisition of common-sense knowledge from text.

Bio: Dr. Oren Etzioni is the Executive Director of the Allen Institute for AI. He was a Professor at the University of Washington's Computer Science department starting in 1991, receiving several awards including Seattle's Geek of the Year (2013), the Robert Engelmore Memorial Award (2007), the IJCAI Distinguished Paper Award (2005), AAAI Fellow (2003), and a National Young Investigator Award (1993). He was also a founder of several companies including Farecast (sold to Microsoft in 2008) and Decide (sold to eBay in 2013), and the author of over 100 technical papers that have garnered over 20,000 citations. The goal of Etzioni's research is to solve fundamental problems in AI, particularly the automatic learning of knowledge from text. He received his Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 1991 (under Tom Mitchell), and his B.A. from Harvard in 1986.