I’ve been doing a little reading both about and from Geoffrey Hinton, who is fairly the godfather of neural networks.
Separately, I’ve also been listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast, Revisionist History.
One of Gladwell’s recent episodes focused on creativity, and the popular notion that creativity is a product of youth and genius.
It turns out that notion is true!
But it is also true that creativity can be a product of a lifetime of tinkering, or so Gladwell contends.
And that’s where I see the connection to Geoffrey Hinton.
Hinton was born in 1947, which made him 63 years-old in 2010, the year he and his graduate students developed and published AlexNet, the deep neural network that blew the machine learning field wide open.
This was the product of a lifetime of working on neural networks. Hinton was one of the original leaders in the field in the 1980s, and developed the practice of back-propagation, which is still a critical element of deep neural networks.
But neural networks faded into relative obscurity until AlexNet revolutionized the field with a GPU implementation in 2010.
It’s nice for the rest of us to remember that our engineering life doesn’t end at 30.