Firechat with Dr. Fei-fei Li on AI Career Path

Dr. Li will candidly answer questions on how to best prepare for the evolving data science field and share insights from her own career path that has spanned academia and leadership at Google Cloud AI.  5 min read


As director of Stanford’s Vision Lab, Dr. Fei-Fei Li’s work has revolutionized the field of computer vision through projects like ImageNet. In this fireside chat , Dr. Li will candidly answer questions on how to best prepare for the evolving data science field and share insights from her own career path that has spanned academia and leadership at Google Cloud AI. Here are the notes:

Dr. Li first shared her journey immigrated from Chendu China to USA, and pursued her study in physics in Princeton. How did she change her career from physics to computer science, software engineers and neuro- science.

Lessons Learnt: pursue your long-term passion, instead of short-term result.

When in Berkeley she had chance working on biology area during summer intern Apparently it didn’t go very well on biology (pure experiment), then she tried the neuroscience in second summer intern. That was really interested to her and she started to focus on artificial intelligence and CNN.

Lessons Learnt: As college students, always use wisely summer internship.

Dr. Li started imageNet after PhD, when she focused on research on computer vision. It was pre-history era from today’s point of view. Not much data, no machine learning, and the problem itself was not even formalized yet. However, later with the modern technology and tools advance, like machine learning, she were able to make progress on research. Inspired by worldNet (which is data set for English language), she started the imageNet which is large data set for computer vision research.

Q: Is there a personality good for industry or academic?

No, I don’t think so. It’s depends on your passion. Some people like to be phD or professor and focus on research. Some people like coding and build product like entrepreneurs. However, as young people, it’s important to explore your interest and try new things/opportunity.

Q: Will be a PhD degree required to be in google in AI?

Not required. But due to new area and deep technology in AI, PhD degree can be plus, but not a prerequisite. many great engineers in Google don’t have PhD degress

Q: How to be ahead of the tech curve?

it’s hard to predict, but focus on two things: 1. your passion 2. look for big impact.

Q: How to make AI that’s good for people?

human-centered AI. No technology is more reflective of its creators than A.I. It has been said that there are no “machine” values at all, in fact; machine values are human values. we have good opportunity to use AI, but also it’s our responsibility as well to use in good way. more info to read New York Time interview here: Human-centered AI

Q: What need to do to become feifei’s phd student?

unfortunately there is no Feifei’s PhD requirement, but only Stanford PhD student criteria. you have to go through the application process by Stanford University. 🙂

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