Kai-Fu Lee at Edge.org:
The question I always ask myself, just like any human being, is who am I and why do I exist? Who are we as humans and why do we exist? When I was in college, I had a much more naïve view. I was very much into computers and artificial intelligence, and I thought it must be the case that I’m destined to work on some computer algorithms and, along with my colleagues, figure out how the brain works and how the computer can be as smart as the brain, perhaps even become a substitute of the brain, and that’s what artificial intelligence is about.
That was the simplistic view that I had. I pursued that in my college, in my graduate years. I went to Carnegie Mellon and got a PhD in speech recognition, then went to Apple, then SGI, then Microsoft, and then to Google. In each of the companies, I continued to work on artificial intelligence, thinking that that was the pursuit of how intelligence worked, and that our elucidation of artificial intelligence would then come back and tell us, "Ah, that’s how the brain works." We replicated it, so that’s what intelligence is about. That must be the most important thing in our lives: our IQ, our ability to think, analyze, predict, understand—all that stuff should be explicable by replicating it in the computer.
I’ve had the good fortune to have met Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell, Herb Simon, and my mentor, Raj Reddy. All of these people had a profound influence on the way I thought. It’s consistent that they too were pursuing the understanding of intelligence. The belief at one point was that we would take the human intelligence and implement it as rules that would have a way to act as people if we provided the steps in which we go through our thoughts.