AnalyticsVidhya Interview with Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro, President KDnuggets

AnalyticsVidhya wide-ranging interview with Gregory Piatetsky-Shapiro - origins of KDnuggets, founding of KDD, Learning Data Science, R vs Python, the risks and benefits of AI, Analytics in India, and more.

Kunal Jain, founder and CEO of Analytics Vidhya, recently did a very nice interview with me. Here are some excerpts:

Kunal Jain ... Both of us are driven by the same passion 'to help people learn data science / analytics'. It took me a few years, before I could reach out to Gregory for an interview personally. Not because he is difficult to reach out to, but because I wanted to make full use of this interaction with him.

Do you know? : Gregory founded KDnuggets even before Sergey and Larry created Google.

I asked lots of questions to Gregory, just like anybody at my place would have done, and honestly speaking, I relished (and benefited) from each word which came from Gregory. Here are the excerpts of my curious conversation with Gregory:

gregory kdnuggets

KJ: You have been running KDnuggets for close to 20 years now. KDnuggets started even before Google came into existence. How did it all start?

Gregory: I started KDnuggets (first called Knowledge Discovery Nuggets) as an email newsletter sent to about 50 researchers which attended KDD-93 workshop (which I organized), the second workshop on Knowledge Discovery in Data. In 1994, I also created a website Knowledge Discovery Mine (no longer active) to hold a directory of data mining software and other useful content, and in 1997, when I left GTE Labs and joined what would now be called a fintech startup, I moved the website to  Over the years, the focus changed from research-oriented directory, with a focus on data mining software, with emails sent every 2-3 weeks, to a current focus on Industry, Big Data, and Data Science, with daily blog publication. KDnuggets recently exceeded 200,000 unique monthly visitors, and  @kdnuggets  was voted Best Twitter on Big Data.

Unlike the earlier days, I now have great help from a strong team of editors and writers, based all over the world - including Singapore, Dublin, California, Chicago, and Toronto.  I am based in Boston.


KJ: Experts in industry are divided whether AI will evolve as a threat. What is your view on this?

Gregory: Just in the last few years we saw the amazing progress of AI and Machine Learning, especially Deep Learning. Google on smartphones now has better voice recognition than many humans and Deep Learning has exceeded human performance on many image recognition tasks. Some people claim that AI will never reach human level, but I remember that people were saying that AI will never beat a master in chess. Then it happened. Critics were saying AI will never beat a world champion in Chess, until IBM Deep Blue defeated Kasparov in 1997. So, predicting that AI will never be able to do X has consistently been a losing bet. I think it is inevitable that AI will reach or exceed human levels, but I hope not for the next 20-30 years.

My main concern is not that AI will want to exterminate people like in Terminator movies but that AI will automate and remove many jobs, leading to a much higher level of unemployment. This will cause huge upheavals and require massive social redistribution.

AI can also automate war - we already see armed drones. At the same time AI has a huge potential upside, for making life easier and better - just try to navigate a city without a GPS ! New personalized medicine will make lives better and longer.

My generation has essentially failed to deal with the climate change.

Now it will be up to your generation to find the right balance of technology and social responsibility, and perhaps Data Science can help find better answers to world's problems.


Here is the full Interview with Data Scientist- Gregory Piatetsky Shapiro, Ph.D, President KDnuggets.