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10 Times Tech Legend Paul Allen Spoke About Artificial Intelligence

10 Times Tech Legend Paul Allen Spoke About Artificial Intelligence

Srishti Deoras

The co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen’s tryst with personal computers is not unknown. Allen, in his early years played a pivotal role at Microsoft, steering the company’s fortunes and making it a dominant player as an enterprise software. In the second half of his career, Allen put all his might behind advancing AI. Quoting on how computers are easier to understand than human brain, he once famously said that computers are basically computing elements and are easy to understand as compared to human brain.

After parting ways with Microsoft, he kick-started many ventures of which Allen Institute of Artificial Intelligence (AI2) is one of the most ambitious. He was quite driven into his dual efforts to firstly, reverse-engineer the human brain and secondly, build one from scratch through artificial intelligence. “When I founded AI2, I wanted to expand the capabilities of artificial intelligence through high-impact research,” he had said.



Envisioning a world of perfect AI, aligned with human values, he invested considerable resources in advancing the developments in artificial intelligence through AI2. While his soul might have departed, he continues to inspire us and has given a lot of hope to AI visionaries to keep up with the innovations in this field.

Paying a tribute, here we list 10 times Paul Allen quoted artificial intelligence and technology.


1. “I wasn’t aiming to solve the mystery of human consciousness. I simply wanted to advance the field of artificial intelligence so that computers could do what they do best (organise and analyse information) to help people do what they do best, those inspired leaps of intuition that fuel original ideas and breakthroughs.”

from his memoir.

2. “We’re going to take a clean sheet of paper and try to create from scratch what we think is an interesting way to approach the understanding of knowledge and how knowledge and language interact.”

on AI2 and its mission.

3. “Early in AI research, there was a great deal of focus on common sense, but that work stalled. AI still lacks what most 10-year-olds possess: ordinary common sense. We want to jump start that research to achieve major breakthroughs in the field.”

on AI2 and its mission.

4. “Launching Project Alexandria to jump start what AI still lacks—ordinary common sense—one of the most fundamental & difficult problems for AI. By tackling this, we can unleash AI’s greatest potential impact in research, business & medicine.”

announcing the launch of Project Alexandria.

5. “If we want AI to approach human abilities and have the broadest possible impact in research, medicine and business, we need to fundamentally advance AI’s common sense abilities.”

announcing the launch of Project Alexandria

6. “All of these are decadal innovations. They are not things that will be ready in five years, but if they make a difference in 10, 20 years from now, that’s what you hope for.”

on innovations in mapping brain functionalities.

7. “We are starting with biology. But first you have to figure out how you represent that knowledge in a software database. I wish I could say our understanding of the brain could inform that, but we’re probably a decade away from that. Our understanding of the brain is so elemental at this point that we don’t know how language works in the brain.”

on innovations in mapping brain functionalities.

8. “Nobody really knows what it would take to create something that is self-aware or has a personality. I guess I could imagine a day when perhaps, if we can understand how it works in the human brain, which is unbelievably complicated, it could be possible. But that is a long, long ways away.”

on creating AI system.

9. “Technology is notorious for engrossing people so much that they don’t always focus on balance and enjoy life at the same time.”

on technology (including AI).

10. “Our whole approach is to do science on an industrial scale and trying to do things exhaustively and not just focus on one path.”

on AI2 and its mission.

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