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De Kai

Professor & Pioneer in AI Ethics and Policy; Founding Fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Professor & Pioneer in AI Ethics and Policy; Founding Fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics

Travels From Travels From:
Hong Kong
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De Kai Biography

De Kai is Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at HKUST, and Distinguished Research Scholar at Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute. He is among only 17 scientists worldwide named by the Association for Computational Linguistics as a Founding ACL Fellow, for his pioneering contributions to machine translation and machine learning foundations of systems like the Google/Yahoo/Microsoft translators. Recruited as founding faculty of HKUST directly from UC Berkeley, where his PhD thesis was one of the first to spur the paradigm shift toward machine learning based natural language processing technologies, he founded HKUST's internationally funded Human Language Technology Center which launched the world's first web translator over twenty years ago.

De Kai's cross-disciplinary work relating music, language, intelligence, and culture centers on enabling cultures to relate, and stems from a liberal arts perspective emphasizing creativity in both technical and humanistic dimensions. A native of St Louis, he worked and traveled extensively in San Francisco, New York, Germany, Spain, China, India and Canada before joining Hong Kong's ambitious creation of Asia's now top-ranked HKUST, where his pioneering contributions to machine learning of the cognitive relationships between different languages led to the foundations of modern machine translation technology, with broad applications in computer music and computational musicology as well as human language processing.

During his doctoral studies in cognitive science, artificial intelligence and computational linguistics at Berkeley, he worked on seminal projects on intelligent conversational dialog agents. His PhD dissertation employing maximum entropy to model human perception and interpretation of ambiguities was one of the first to spur the paradigm shift toward today's state-of-the-art statistical natural language processing technologies. De Kai also holds an executive MBA from Kellogg (Northwestern University) and HKUST. His undergraduate degree at UCSD was awarded cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and won the liberal arts oriented Revelle College's department award.

In 2015, Debrett's HK 100 named De Kai as one of the 100 most influential figures of Hong Kong.

In 2019, Google named De Kai as one of eight inaugural members of its AI Ethics council, ATEAC (Advanced Technology External Advisory Council).


Speaker profile last updated by AAE Talent Team on 05/31/2024.

De Kai Speaking Topics

  • The Future of AI

    In this riveting talk, AI pioneer De Kai shares where this technology is at today – and where it’s going next. Despite the media hype, today ‘AI’ stands for “artificial idiocy.” Our current language learning models (which power tools like ChatGPT) are barely on the cusp of what they’re capable of doing. De Kai shares the ‘next big thing’ in AI – which is neither ‘big’ nor about ‘things’. De Kai answers profound questions, such as: How will the real AI that’s coming very soon be small and smart, and how will that undermine current planning?

  • The Biggest Fear with AI is Fear Itself

    In a million years of human evolution, we have never experienced conditions like those of the AI era. AI is undermining foundational assumptions upon which our current fear-based order is evolved, and causing us to ask big, existential questions about the future. Humanity’s survival depends on our ability to evolve away from fear – and toward possibility – how can AI help?

    AI inventor and professor De Kai has been at the forefront of creating this new technology for decades, and brings a profound understand of the philosophy to compelling talks.

  • Algorithmic Censorship

    Dozens of times a day, AIs determine not only what few hundred things you see (in your social media feed and in search results), but more importantly, what billions of things you don’t see. And since we don’t know what we don’t know – we have no idea how this is manipulating us. De Kai, the Statesman of AI, asks: What are the crucial existential question for society and democracy that keep getting swept under the rug, and how do we tackle them?

  • Why We Need Artificial Mindfulness

    In the ongoing debates about new AI technologies – what they can be used for, who they will benefit, and how they will change society – there are many conflicting opinions. AI innovator De Kai illuminates the various points of view, challenging our assumptions, and reveals how AI can evolve to be both a more effective and a safe tool in the long-run.

  • Artificial Creativity

    Today’s generative AI tools and products fool users into thinking they’ve become truly creative – producing visual art, content, writing, and more at breakneck speed. What are the tricks these AI tools are playing? What are the criteria we should be looking at instead? What kind of creative AI can we expect next?

    In this revelatory talk, AI creator and professor De Kai breaks down how these tools work and what it means for our artists, the creative process, and society as a whole.

De Kai Videos

  • The biggest fear with AI is fear itself | De Kai | TEDxSanMigueldeAllende
    In this talk, De Kai examines how AI amplifies fear into an existential threat to society and humanity, and what we need to be doing about it.
  • What is ‘Empathetic A.I.’? | Professor De Kai
    What is the ‘empathy gap’? What impact will machine learning have on humanity’s future? And why should we all care?
  • Why AI is impossible without mindfulness | De Kai | TEDxOakland
    Can a machine be mindful? What does that even mean? Sticky questions with major consequences for humanity are tackled in this provocative talk by De...

FAQs on booking De Kai

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  • What topics does De Kai speak about?

  • Where does De Kai travel from?

    De Kai generally travels from Hong Kong, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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De Kai is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics such as The Future of AI, The Biggest Fear with AI is Fear Itself, Algorithmic Censorship, Why We Need Artificial Mindfulness and Artificial Creativity. The estimated speaking fee range to book De Kai for your event is available upon request. De Kai generally travels from Hong Kong and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Manolis Kellis, Ayanna Howard, Ray Kurzweil, Alice Agogino and Hunter Lloyd. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling De Kai for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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