- After a year and a half as head of Google Cloud Platform's artificial intelligence and machine learning department, Fei-Fei Li is transitioning to a role as an AI/ML advisor as she returns to her work as a professor at Stanford. Li taught for more than 9 years at the university and is on her fourth year as director of the Stanford AI Lab; she took a leave of absence at the start of 2017 to head the Google unit.
- Andrew Moore, dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, will fill Li's shoes and join as head of the unit at the end of 2018, according to a Google Cloud announcement Monday.
- Moore is a Google veteran and worked for the company from 2006 to 2014 as a director in the Pittsburgh office then vice president of engineering for Google Commerce.
Industry is often criticized for poaching artificial intelligence talent from academia, bottlenecking AI leadership available to train the next generation of in-demand specialists. In this case, as one academic leaves, one of the most prominent AI researchers in the world also returns to academia.
During her stint at Google, Li helped roll out Google Cloud AutoML, a suite of products to make AI and ML accessible to developers of varying skill levels. Google has been a driving force behind AI democratization efforts, even opening up its internal AI crash course to the public free of charge.
She also headed Google's AI efforts at a time when ethical and moral use of the technology is under scrutiny. From internal disputes about Google's AI work with the Pentagon to questions of how the company uses the troves of consumer data it collects, Li has offered a cautionary warning on the impacts of AI on society.
As one of the leading organizations for AI and other emerging technologies, what Google does matters to a lot of businesses dependent on its products and services. Going up against bigger competitors like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure in the cloud market, Google can point to its advanced technologies and AI as a point of distinction.