AI innovator Richard Sutton named to Royal Society

Computing scientist Rich Sutton was named a fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his pioneering contributions to the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning. (Photo: John Ulan; taken pre-COVID-19)

Rich Sutton, a University of Alberta computing science professor, a fellow and Canada CIFAR AI Chair at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii), and one of the founders of modern computational reinforcement learning, has been elected as a fellow of the venerable Royal Society, the world’s oldest national scientific institution.

Sutton, who joined the U of A’s Faculty of Science and Amii in 2003, was called to the United Kingdom’s 360-year-old national academy of sciences thanks to pioneering an approach to artificial and natural intelligence that emphasizes learning and planning similar to how humans learn through trial and error, and a field in which he continues to lead the world.

“I am deeply humbled and honoured to join the ranks of Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin as a fellow of the Royal Society,” said Sutton, who is also the chief scientific adviser for Amii, an Edmonton-based organization designed to advance scientific research and accelerate the adoption of AI in industry in the province.

Michael Bowling, colleague and friend who arrived in Edmonton the same year, said when Sutton came to the U of A he not only brought a notoriety necessary to launch an AI enterprise, he brought his own brand of leadership.

“I don’t think I would be the same researcher today if it wasn’t for Rich arriving at the same time,” said Bowling, also a fellow and Canada CIFAR AI Chair at Amii who, along with Sutton, is a member of DeepMind, one of the world’s leading AI research companies. “That notoriety he brought in and the funding he brought, he spread it around to the colleagues around him.”

Now, as the world starts seeing the potential of AI that Sutton saw nearly two decades ago, Bowling said they’re realizing the legacy that Sutton laid with the research he has done and continues to do.

This article was written by Michael Brown of Folio; read the original article.

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