Tomaso A. Poggio, is the Eugene McDermott Professor in the Dept. of Brain & Cognitive Sciences at MIT and the director of the new NSF Center for Brains, Minds and Machines at MIT of which MIT and Harvard are the main member Institutions. He is a member of both the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and of the McGovern Brain Institute. He is an honorary member of the Neuroscience Research Program, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Founding Fellow of AAAI and a founding member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. Among other honors he received the Laurea Honoris Causa from the University of Pavia for the Volta Bicentennial, the 2003 Gabor Award, the Okawa Prize 2009, the AAAS Fellowship and the 2014 Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience. He is one of the most cited computational scientists with contributions ranging from the biophysical and behavioral studies of the visual system to the computational analyses of vision and learning in humans and machines. With W. Reichardt he characterized quantitatively the visuo-motor control system in the fly. With D. Marr, he introduced the seminal idea of levels of analysis in computational neuroscience. He introduced regularization as a mathematical framework to approach the ill-posed problems of vision and the key problem of learning from data. In the last decade he has developed an influential hierarchical model of visual recognition in the visual cortex. The citation for the recent 2009 Okawa prize mentions his “…outstanding contributions to the establishment of computational neuroscience, and pioneering researches ranging from the biophysical and behavioral studies of the visual system to the computational analysis of vision and learning in humans and machines.” His research has always been interdisciplinary, between brains and computers. It is now focused on the mathematics of learning theory, the applications of learning techniques to computer vision and especially on computational neuroscience of the visual cortex. 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.
The Science and the Engineering of Intelligence
The birth of artificial-intelligence research as an autonomous discipline is generally thought to have been the month long Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence in 1956, which convened 10 leading electrical engineers — including MIT’s Marvin Minsky and Claude Shannon — to discuss “how to make machines use language” and “form abstractions and concepts.”
The problem, of course, turned out to be much more difficult than AI’s pioneers had imagined. In recent years, by exploiting machine learning — in which computers learn to perform tasks from sets of training examples — artificial-intelligence researchers have built impressive systems. Two of my former postdocs — Demis Hassabis and Amnon Shashua — are behind the two main success stories of AI, AlphaGo better than human player at Go and Mobileye at the forefront of vision-based autonomous driving. Some of the present excitement is due to realistic expectations for further progress. but there is also a substantial amount of hype. A substantial effort in basic research is needed to develop a true science of intelligence.
I will briefly review today’s engineering of intelligence and some of the mathematics underlying it, the mathematics of learning from data. I will also sketch the vision of the MIT Center for Brains, Minds and Machines which strives to make progress on the science of intelligence by combining machine learning and computer science with neuroscience and cognitive science