Los Angeles Times

Can this guy help Intel catch the AI wave?

SAN DIEGO - To get a sense of computer scientist Naveen Rao, just take a look at his hands.

The 42-year-old has busted all 10 of his fingers over a lifetime of skiing, skateboarding, bicycling, rollerblading, race-car driving, wrestling and hoops.

He's not a clod; he's a risk taker who pushes physical and mental boundaries. On the mental side, he's trying to quicken the computer industry's move into a new age of artificial intelligence by creating chips and software inspired by the structure of the human brain.

What sets Rao apart from others attempting the same thing is the fact that Intel last year bought his San Diego company, Nervana, for $400 million.

That's some stamp of approval. Intel is a computer-chip industry giant, with sales topping $60 billion a year. But it's an aging giant. Intel turns 50 next year, and everyone agrees it requires some revitalization, having infamously missed the industry's massive shift to mobile computing.

Now Intel is trying to catch the industry's next rising wave: artificial intelligence, or, more precisely, a subset of AI known as deep learning.

Cars that drive themselves, personal

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