5 of the Most Important People in the World of AI


In the artificial intelligence field, some leaders pop out more than others.

In the 1970s and 1980s, at the dawn of the personal computing age, the technology industry’s leading lights stood out. Icons like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and John McAfee became household names, and books and movies highlighted their public and private lives.

The same scenario played out at the beginning of the 21st century when technology luminaries like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Google’s co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin advanced in the public eye as social media and internet commerce attracted billions of eyeballs.

Now, with artificial intelligence emerging as the biggest business and technology story in the 2020s, it’s unclear who will become household names as the AI revolution takes root.

It’s still early, and there will be new names, but why not have some fun and list the five biggest business personalities in AI (to date) in 2024 and how they slid into the spotlight?

We think these top AI industry names lead that list.


Five Top Executive Names in AI


1) Dario Amodei, CEO of Anthropic

Amodei, the CEO of top AI lab development company Anthropic, has been described as an AI trailblazer, along with his sister and company president Daniela Amodei.

There’s a good reason for that.

Both former OpenAI executives, the Amodei’s have built Anthropic into a $5 billion company, with Amazon partnering up with an additional $4 billion in funding.

A born entrepreneur, Dario Amodei says that to be an AI difference-maker, it’s better to blaze your own trail.

“One thing I’ve learned is that it can be pretty ineffective to argue with your boss and say, ‘Your company shouldn’t do X, it should do Y.’” Dario Amodei said at a recent industry conference. “A much more effective thing to do is, ‘I’m starting a company. We are going to do X and see how it works.”


2) Andrej Karpathy, Senior Director of AI at Tesla

A senior director of artificial intelligence at Tesla, Karpathy is the brains behind Tesla’s Autopilot and its groundbreaking neural network technology.

Another OpenAI alumni, Karpathy is a machine learning legend – he reportedly makes a hobby out of cataloguing research papers on Arxiv, which houses over 100,000 research reports on all things machine learning. He’s also a favorite on X, with over 350,000 followers.


3) Demis Hassabis, CEO of Deep Mind

Hassabis is a co-founder and CEO of Deep Mind, a neuroscience-based artificial intelligence company that has been owned by Google since 2014. He leads the social media giant’s AI strategy and is the author of highly regarded academic and industry research papers on neuroscience and machine learning.

A former chess prodigy, Hassabis has taken a cautionary tone on AI, even as he leads the artificial intelligence program at one of the largest technology companies in the world.

“Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” Hassabis said in a recent 22-word AI risk statement co-written by OpenAI’s Sam Altman.


4) Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI

Hired, fired, and re-hired as OpenAI’s CEO within a four-year time frame between 2019 and 2023, Sam Altman is one of the biggest names (and likely most recognizable names) in the AI industry in 2024.

Funded by legendary names like Altman, Elon Musk, and Peter Thiel, OpenAI rolled out ChatGPT, a generative AI chatbot, in late 2022 and more recently introduced Sora, OpenAI’s video generator. Altman has led the charge the entire way and was recently feted as Time’s 2023 CEO of the Year.

Speaking about Altman’s tenacity and leadership skills, Paul Graham, co-founder of startup accelerator Y Combinator, famously said, “You could parachute him into an island full of cannibals and come back in five years, and he’d be the king.”


5) Tom Siebel, C3.ai CEO

Chairman and chief executive officer at Redwood City, Cal.-based C3, Siebel became a billionaire in 2006 when he sold his software company, Siebel Systems, to Oracle. He’s spent the last 16 years championing AI as a major transformational technology that will change the world.

In his Wall Street Journal and Amazon bestselling book, “Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction,” Siebel introduced the trends and technologies driving digital transformation and how organizations can seize them as a strategic opportunity.

An AI leader whose vision of the technology may differ from most, Siebel doesn’t see Gen AI as a serious threat to humanity, as Aliman (among others) has alleged. However, he advocates treating the technology carefully in key areas such as mental health, job displacement, and technology manipulation.

He also sees AI as a game-changer for business, although only a few companies will reach the top of the mountain.

“We’re going to see a proliferation of a thousand points of light and consolidate down to a few winners, just as it does in all other aspects of the information technology business,” Siebel told Yahoo Finance at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The true AI winners will be “people who deliver high-quality products and deliver economic benefit to their customers—hard stop.”

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