HPC/AI in the Spotlight: Jensen Huang Named to Time Magazine’s Most Influential People List

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Jensen Huang 

Estranged royalty, movie stars and Olympic athletes have influence, sure, but if you want to build a list of people with lasting impact then Time magazine got it right when it named Jensen Huang to its list of the 100 most influential people of 2021.

The CEO of Nvidia, whose GPUs are highlighted by Time as a driving force of the AI revolution, is at the beating heart of our increasingly increasingly tech-dominated, increasingly tech-intelligent — increasingly HPC/AI-driven — world.

We’d not only say the recognition is appropriate, we’d also say it’s surprising how few people not in the technology or investment worlds have ever heard of Nvidia. But that could be in part because Nvidia is an AI enabler — via machine learning model training — not the producer of finished AI products. It’s also because AI’s growing ubiquity and utility is rapidly incorporated, after fleeting initial amazement, into contemporary life. As Australian roboticist Rodney Brooks said of the “AI effect,” “Every time we figure out a piece of it, it stops being magical.”.

Each of the influential people picked by Time is portrayed in a short essay, and for Huang, the essayist is AI computer scientist and entrepreneur Andrew Ng, who declared that Huang “is among the world’s most technically savvy CEOs.”

“In 2003, amid great skepticism,” Ng writes, “Huang directed his company Nvidia to adapt chips designed to paint graphics on computer screens, known as graphics processing units or GPUs, to perform other, more general-purpose computing tasks. The resulting advancements—and powerful chips—laid a foundation that could accommodate much bigger neural networks, the programs behind much of today’s AI. In the process, he has helped enable a revolution that allows phones to answer questions out loud, farms to spray weeds but not crops, doctors to predict the properties of new drugs—with more wonders to come.”

Our bet: The current AI revolution kicked off in part by GPUs will continue to grow in power and impact long after many on Times’ 2021 influencers list have been forgotten.