AI is coming on fast: Here are the 10 people the AI elite follow on Twitter

Posted by Marshall Kirkpatrick on Feb 4, 2016 8:20:31 PM

To say Artificial Intelligence is moving into key leadership positions in institutions around the world is only a slight exaggeration.  

Google just replaced its retiring long-time head of all search technology with its leader of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Microsoft just spent a quarter billion dollars acquiring an AI-informed user interface technology (SwiftKey). Both of those things just happened yesterday. Venture investments in AI nearly doubled in the last 3 months.  

We’re going to hear more and more about AI in the coming months and years. How fast is it growing? Is General human-level AI realistic in the near term (vs narrow, job-specific AI)? What would the consequences of such a development be? Is this thing or that thing really AI technology, or is it just a shiny squirrel wrapping itself in the tech trend of the day? Should a machine be required to get human permission before deciding to use lethal force? Will most humans have jobs in the mid-term future?

These questions are important to all businesses (and humans).  But where can you go to efficiently keep up on this trend, find credible perspectives on the news, and discover important opportunities for your business? (Free bonus: maybe even get an early heads-up on the robot apocalypse.)

We decided to ask the experts. Not literally ask them, but use automation to analyze who they’re reading on the internet, in order to figure out who the real influencers of the influencers are.

Below you’ll find a Top 10 list: the top ten people in AI that you should know.  These are the people that the very most selective experts in AI pay attention to.  


Above, clockwise: Martin Ford, Gary Marcus,David Brin, Ben Goertzel


Here’s how we did it.  First (using Little Bird, of course), we cast a wide net and built a list of 5,000 AI experts, organizations, specialists, influencers, and practitioners who have Twitter accounts.  Then, we analyzed the connections between all of those and found the 2000 most-watched by their peers.  This set of 2000 is important.  But who among them is most important?

Next, we created a group of people to act as our panel of judges.  90 people and organizations in that set of 2000 credible AI specialists who are (1) most connected to their peers, (2) followed by at least 1,000 people in total, and (3) most focused on AI in the people they choose to follow.  

This is a group made up of popular AI influencers like Elon Musk, Baidu chief scientist Andrew Ng, and former Google Car leader Sebastian Thrun, but also highly connected AI influencers like Gary Marcus, Georgina Cosma, Ben Goertzel, Joanna J Bryson, and Rodney Brooks.  Yann LeCun, leader of Facebook’s AI effort.  Andrej Karpathy, research scientist at Open AI.  UK computational biology prof Neil Lawrence.

Who do these AI thought leaders pay attention to? Here’s our list.

The People Most Watched by the AI Elite

1. Elon Musk, co-founder of Open AI, a new organization dedicated to making sure AI is beneficial to humanity, is the person most followed by the most discerning AI thought leaders.  No surprise. Good.

2. Martin Ford, (top left) author of #RiseoftheRobots and The Lights in the Tunnel.  

3. Gary Marcus, (top right) CEO of Geometric Intelligence, Professor Psychology & Neural Science, at NYU, is only followed by 8,000 people on Twitter. But among those are many of the AI elite.

4. Ben Goertzel (bottom left) is a prolific advocate for open source General (human-like) AI. 

5. David Brin, (bottom right) futurist, blogger, and author with a new book coming out in March called Insistence of Vision, which he says "will open doorways into possible (and mind-blowing) tomorrows and alternate realities.”

6. Randy Olson, data scientist researching AI, master curator of great content related to AI, dataviz and more.  Seems like a nice guy, too.

7. Peter Xing, intrapreneur at Deloitte and co-founder of TranshumanismAU, an Australian organization that aims to enhance the human biological condition.

8. Nikola Danaylov is a Singularity-minded public intellectual and host of the Singularity 1 on 1 podcast. 

9. Rodney Brooks, CTO of Rethink Robotics, a company that makes robots that collaborate with humans.

10. Rod Furlan, a Singularity University alum who’s the founder of Lucidscape, a company "building a new kind of massively-distributed 3D simulation engine to power the vast network of interconnected virtual worlds.

Follow these people, or ignore them, at your own peril. Here’s a Twitter list to make it easy.

Unfortunately, no women made that top ten list. The closest to it and still massively influential, according to our data, are the following: University of Bath/Princeton's Joanna J Bryson, Data Science and Innovation VP at defense contractor Booz Allen Angela Zutavern and roboticist Dr. Angelica Lim.

Little Bird customers can now put that list into Little Bird and receive an automated highlight reel of the hottest conversations among these thought leaders, or the most influential people in any other market.  Not a Little Bird customer?  Inquire here.

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