Yoshua Bengio has never been one to take sides. As one of the three intellects who shaped the deep learning that now dominates artificial intelligence, he has been catapulted to stardom. It’s a field so new the people who can advance it fit into one room together, and everyone—from tech startups to multinational conglomerates and the department of defense—wants a share of their minds.
But while his peer scientists Yann LeCun and Geoffrey Hinton have signed on to Facebook and Google, respectively, Bengio, 53, has chosen to continue working from his small third-floor office on the hilltop campus of the University of Montreal. “I want to remain a neutral agent,” he says as he sips rust-colored licorice water, which he pours from a carafe that acts as a weight for the mess of papers cluttering his desk.
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