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Dr. Tomaso Poggio: The Science and the Engineering of Intelligence

Dr. Tomaso Poggio, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Eugene McDermott Professor at the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Director, Center for Brains, Minds and Machines
Member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT Member of the faculty of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research (since 2000)

Title:  The Science and the Engineering of Intelligence
Date: March 11th, 2020
Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm
Place: Atkinson 109
Focus Session: LAS 3033, 12:30pm – 2:30pm


In recent years, artificial intelligence researchers have built impressive systems. Two of my former postdocs — Demis Hassabis and Amnon Shashua — are behind two main recent success stories of AI: AlphaGo and Mobileye, based on two key algorithms, both originally suggested by discoveries in euroscience: deep learning and reinforcement learning. To create artifacts that are as intelligent as we are, we need several additional breakthroughs. In the first part of the talk, will discuss the question of what they may be and from where they may come from. I will describe why a good bet is that several of them will come from interdisciplinary research between the natural science and the engineering of Intelligence. This vision is in fact at the core of the CBMM, of which I will outline organization and research strategy. In the second half of the talk, I will sketch recent theoretical results, based on classical machine learning, to explain why deep networks work as well as they do.


Born in Genoa, Italy (naturalized in 1994), he received his Doctor in Theoretical Physics from the University of Genoa in 1971 and was a Wissenschaftlicher Assistant, Max Planck Institut für Biologische Kybernetik, Tüebingen, Germany from 1972 until 1981 when he became Associate Professor at MIT. He is an honorary member of the Neuroscience Research Program, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Founding Fellow of AAAI. He received several awards such as the Otto-Hahn-Medaille Award  of the Max-Planck-Society, the Max Planck Research Award (with M. Fahle), from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the MIT 50K Entrepreneurship Competition Award, the Laurea Honoris Causa from the University of Pavia in 2000 (Volta Bicentennial), the 2003 Gabor Award, the 2009 Okawa prize, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Fellowship (2009) and the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience in 2014. He is one of the most cited computational neuroscientists (with a h-index greater than 100 – based on GoogleScholar). A former Corporate Fellow of Thinking Machines Corporation and a former director of PHZ Capital Partners, Inc., is a director of Mobileye and was involved in starting, or investing in, several other high tech companies including Arris Pharmaceutical, nFX, Imagen, Digital Persona and Deep Mind. Among his PhD students and post-docs are some of the today’s leaders in the Science and in the Engineering of Intelligence,  from Christof Koch (President and Chief Scientific Officer, Allen Institute) to Amnon Shashua (CTO and founder, Mobileye) and Demis Hassabis (CEO and founder, Deep Mind).

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