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Tesla’s newest Autopilot Vision head: Who is Andrej Karpathy?

The EV world was rocked when it was announced that Tesla replaced its Vice President of Autopilot Software, Chris Lattner, with Andrej Karpathy. Karpathy is the company’s new Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, but who he is?

Karpathy most recently worked as a research scientist with Elon Musk’s OpenAI, specializing in deep neural networks.

He also had three summer stints at Google. In 2011 and 2013, Karpathy interned for the tech behemoth working on large scale deep learning and video content analysis. In 2015, he was with Google DeepMind, focusing on deep reinforcement learning.

In 2009, Karpathy graduated from University of Toronto with a Bachelor’s of Science in computer science and in physics. From there, he went to the University of British Columbia and got Master’s Degree in computer science and researched motor control, primarily learning controllers for physically simulated figures.

After finishing graduate school in 2011, Karpathy went to Stanford University to pursue a Ph.D in computer science. He researched machine learning, with an emphasis on deep learning for computer vision and natural language processing. He worked under adviser Fei-Fei Li, the director of Stanford’s AI lab and chief director of Google Cloud. According to his Stanford profile, Karpathy graduated in 2015 before jumping to Google DeepMind and eventually OpenAI.

Karpathy has been published in scholarly journals and for conferences, including the International Conference on Learning Representations. He also published a couple of blogs to keep his followers posted on research development and a lighter one on topics such as a survival guide to a Ph.D.

In February of this year he joined the steering committee of distill.pub, a journal focusing on machine learning research.

Karpathy will report directly to Musk, and work closely with chip expert and Vice President of Autopilot Hardware Jim Keller on advancing Tesla’s self-driving technology.

Tesla released the following statement regarding the hiring of Karpathy:

Andrej Karpathy, one of the world’s leading experts in computer vision and deep learning, is joining Tesla as Director of AI and Autopilot Vision, reporting directly to Elon Musk. Andrej has worked to give computers vision through his work on ImageNet, as well as imagination through the development of generative models, and the ability to navigate the internet with reinforcement learning. He was most recently a Research Scientist at OpenAI.

Andrej completed his computer vision PhD at Stanford University, where he demonstrated the ability to derive complex descriptions of images using a deep neural net. For example, identifying not simply that there is a cat in a given picture, but that it is an orange, spotted cat, riding on a skateboard with red wheels on brown hardwood flooring (http://cs.stanford.edu/people/karpathy/main.pdf). He also created and taught “Convolutional Neural Networks for Visual Recognition,” the first and still leading deep learning course at Stanford.

Andrej will work closely with Jim Keller, who now has overall responsibility for Autopilot hardware and software.

To see Karpathy in action discussing deep learning, check him out here:

Tesla’s newest Autopilot Vision head: Who is Andrej Karpathy?
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