Getting machines to think

2020 visionaries

Quoc Le is a research scientist at Google Brain, which focuses on a piece of artificial intelligence called "deep learning."

Think of it as a sophisticated type of machine learning, which is the science of getting computers to learn from data. A computer that is able to tell the difference between a picture of a dog and a cat develops that knowledge through deep learning.

"I try to get machines to think," said Le, 34, who's been with Google Brain for 4.5 years.

Some of Google Brain's technology has been integrated into Google's broader services. Speech recognition technology in its Android operating systems and improved photo search capabilities originated at Brain.

Watch: Using AI to solve the world's problems

Le believes that his research -- and the broader field of deep learning --can solve some of the world's most pressing problems, including healthcare, education and climate change.

--Sara Ashley O'Brien contributed reporting.

First published March 16, 2016: 12:45 PM ET

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