Four scientists considered to be pioneers of artificial intelligence, including a Frenchman and a Canadian, rewarded for their “extraordinary” contribution in many fields

Four scientists considered pioneers of artificial intelligence, including a Frenchman and a Canadian, have been awarded the Spanish Princess of Asturias Prize, one of the most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world, for their “extraordinary” contribution in many fields .

Frenchman Yann Le Cun, Canadian Yoshua Bengio and Britons Geoffrey Hinton and Demis Hassabis, jointly awarded in the Science category, have enabled the “full integration” of artificial intelligence “into society”, estimated the jury.

“Their contributions to the development of deep learning (+Deep Learning+) have enabled great progress in areas as diverse as voice recognition (…), object perception, machine translation, strategy optimization, protein structure analysis, medical diagnostics and many more,” he said.

Due to the breadth of disciplines in which these advances are applied, the “current and future impact” of their work “in the progress of society can be described as extraordinary”, added the jury.

Yann Le Cun, 61, Geoffrey Hinton, 74, and Yoshua Bengio, 58, had already been awarded the Turing Prize in 2018, considered the Nobel Prize for computer scientists.

For his part, Demis Hassabis, 45, who was among the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2017, received the Wiley Prize for Biomedical Sciences in 2021.

Geoffroy Hinton was the creator in 1986 of so-called backpropagation algorithms, tools with which he succeeded in designing, in 2012, a neural network, called AlexNet, capable of recognizing objects with only 26% errors.

Yann Le Cun used these same backpropagation algorithms to create LeNet5 in 1989, a system that made it possible to recognize with sufficient certainty, for example, characters written on bank checks.

He was more recently one of the promoters of an image compression system that makes it possible to view digitized documents on the Internet, a technology used by millions of people every day.

For his part, Yoshua Bengio has specialized in probabilistic sequence models, which over time have made it possible to improve speech and handwriting recognition.

As for Demis Hassabis, he founded DeepMind, a subsidiary of Google which is developing a new artificial intelligence system applicable to research and capable, for example, of predicting “the structure of more than 350,000 human proteins”, according to the jury.

The Princess of Asturias prizes, awarded since 1981 in eight categories, are endowed with 50,000 euros.

They are named after the heiress to the Spanish throne, Princess Leonor, eldest daughter of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, and are handed over each October by the Royal Family at a ceremony in Oviedo, Spain. Asturias (north-west of the country).

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Four scientists considered to be pioneers of artificial intelligence, including a Frenchman and a Canadian, rewarded for their “extraordinary” contribution in many fields


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