By Peter High, published on Forbes
Andrew Moore’s career path at Carnegie Mellon has become emblematic of the way the University fosters its star talent. He became a tenured professor at Carnegie Mellon in 2000. In 2006, Moore joined Google, where he was responsible for building a new engineering office. As a vice president of engineering, Andrew was responsible for Google Shopping, the company’s retail segment. Moore returned to Carnegie Mellon in 2014 as the Dean of the Computer Science department. In that role and given his experience, Moore is among the most influential people in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence.
In the past, Moore has described the poaching problem that the Computer Science department has, given its stable of extraordinary talent in fields such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and others that are high in demand. Of course, he recognizes himself in those professors and students who would choose to follow their passions into lucrative positions in the private sector. The department allows professors to leave and come back in many cases, and is hiring at higher rates in anticipation of this trend continuing.
In this interview, Moore offers insights into the evolving field of artificial intelligence, what is likely to be the factors to determine the companies who will win or lose in this space, as well as insights into what makes Carnegie Mellon specifically and Pittsburgh more generally a hot test bed for cutting edge technology.
Peter High: Andrew, you are the Dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Please describe your purview.
Andrew Moore: Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science has a couple of hundred strong faculty members who are working on every aspect of computer technology. We also have a few thousand amazing students. My role as Dean is to make sure the whole organization gets to move forward. I see my role as helping to clear the way for these geniuses to get to do what they want to do.
High: You have said that being at CMU is like being at Hogwarts Academy. That when you walk around the School of Computer Science, the College of Engineering, and the university at large, you see a great number of smart people working on a variety of things that will change the technology landscape, and ultimately our lives. What was the origin of Carnegie Mellon’s influence?
Moore: It all comes down to two visionaries, Allen Newell and Herbert Simon. They were two of the four people who, in 1956, took part in the Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence Conference, where they discussed what might be possible with computers in the future. These two gentlemen were in the business school at Carnegie Tech, which later became Carnegie Mellon University. There was, of course, not a computer science school in the 1960s. Newell and Simon used their passion and extreme intellect to speculate and bring together a team of people who looked at, not what computers would do in the next five to 10 years, but what it would mean to live in a world where there are thinking machines. They inspired so many other thinkers through that period that it snowballed over the decades. Today, we have 250 faculty members in the School of Computer Science. They work on everything from the lowest level details of how photons move and how you count them up, to the highest level details of what it means to have an emotional relationship with a talking machine. It was Newell’s and Simon’s initial interest that sparked this and shaped our computer science department.
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