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We’re Not Ready for AI, Says Winner of New $1-Million AI Prize


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Regina Barzilay.

Regina Barzilay, first winner of the Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity, says artificial intelligence "doesn't yet have the acceptance of society."

Credit: ACM

Regina Barzilay, a professor at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), is the first winner of the Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity, a new prize recognizing outstanding research in AI. Barzilay started her career working on natural-language processing. After surviving breast cancer in 2014, she switched her focus to machine-learning algorithms for detecting cancer and designing new drugs. The award will be presented in February 2021 by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI).

The $1 million prize money, provided by Chinese online education company Squirrel AI, which we have written about previously, puts the award on the same financial level as the Nobel Prize and the Turing Award in computer science. I talked to Barzilay on the phone about the prize—and the promise and frustrations of AI.

 

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