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Kunle Olukotun: How to make AI more democratic

A chip designer talks about how advances in hardware will be needed to make the much-hyped artificially intelligent future a reality.

A person shaking hands with another being representing artificial intelligence. There is a contract with balanced scales between them.

The future will be dominated by AI | iStock/mmustafabozdemir

Electrical engineer Kunle Olukotun has built a career out of building computer chips for the world.

These days his attention is focused on new-age chips that will broaden the reach of artificial intelligence to new uses and new audiences — making AI more democratic.

The future will be dominated by AI, he says, and one key to that change rests in the hardware that makes it all possible — faster, smaller, more powerful computer chips. He imagines a world filled with highly efficient, specialized chips built for specific purposes, versus the relatively inefficient but broadly applicable chips of today.

Making that vision a reality will require hardware that focuses less on computation and more on streamlining the movement of data back and forth, a function that now claims 90% of computing power, as Olukotun tells host Russ Altman on this episode of Stanford Engineering’s The Future of Everything podcast. Listen and subscribe here.