Today, I’m thrilled to announce that Zoubin Ghahramani is Uber’s new Chief Scientist and will be joining us in San Francisco. In this capacity, he’ll oversee Uber’s AI Labs, our recently created machine learning and artificial intelligence research unit and lead AI/Machine Learning strategy across the company. Zoubin joined Uber through the acquisition of Geometric Intelligence and it has become clear that Zoubin is a natural for the Chief Scientist role.
Zoubin is among the most influential AI/ML researchers in the world. He is a Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge, where he leads a group of about 30 researchers. He was a founding member of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit in London, one of the founding Directors of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for Data Science, and a faculty member of Carnegie Mellon University’s Machine Learning Department. He is an acknowledged world leader on probabilistic modeling and machine learning, and has published over 250 papers, receiving 35,000 citations (an h-index of 79). He has served as program and general chair of the leading international conferences in machine learning — NIPS, ICML and AISTATS — and has advised many companies, from startups to Microsoft Research. In 2013, he received a $750,000 Google Award for research on building an Automatic Statistician, and recently he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences.
Below, Zoubin explains in his own words why he was compelled to make this move.
Uber is one of the world’s fastest growing and innovative technology companies, and its mission to “make transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere, for everyone” will have a tremendous positive impact on society. I’m a great believer in the potential for technology to improve lives around the world, and I’m really excited about helping Uber in this mission. I have realized what a fantastic place Uber is for machine learning and AI researchers: there are a huge number of opportunities for both near-term high-impact research and longer term challenges to work on; the resources both in terms of data and computation are plentiful; and there are many talented and brilliant colleagues to work with.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are absolutely central to Uber’s mission. Uber’s opportunities are unique among major technology companies, because they center around the real physical world, which is complex and difficult to predict. We have to navigate around the real world, develop perception and action systems for our self-driving cars, and understand, predict, and make more efficient the experience for our riders and drivers. At a larger scale, we are trying to model and optimize entire cities, and reimagine the future of transportation through, for example, urban VTOL aviation. The probabilistic ML approaches I work on are clearly useful for this, but we have assembled research talent across a much wider range of ML and AI approaches including deep learning, reinforcement learning, and optimization, as well as problem domains such as language and robotics. We are continuing to recruit across all these areas and more, for both talented researchers and engineers.
I am excited to embark on this new adventure!