‘Penguin’s’ Watson, Watson, and the rest of the Penguin team are ready to go: A sneak peek at Watson’s journey to the top of the food chain
Watson is a highly regarded roboticist who’s been a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) for the past several years, with projects ranging from the popular BBC Watson robot to the upcoming Amazon Alexa smart assistant.
The news comes just a few days after Watson announced that it was hiring a new chief technology officer (CTO) and CEO, respectively.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. John Watson as our new Chief Technology Officer, CEO, and CEO of Penguin,” Penguin said in a statement on Monday.
Watson is also heading the company’s human-robot interaction team.
He joins the team after spending the last three years at Microsoft where he led a team that created the Bing search engine and was a key member of Microsoft’s AI group, working on machine learning, speech recognition, speech synthesis, natural language processing, and a slew of other areas.
“He brings a lot of experience and expertise in these areas,” Penguin cofounder and chief executive Officer David Marcus said in the statement.
“The combination of a PhD in AI and a strong background in human-machine interaction will be critical for our strategy going forward.”
A few weeks ago, it was announced that Watson was moving from Microsoft to Amazon’s robotics division, which is now called Rethink Robotics.
Watson said at the time that he was “delighted” to be joining the robotics division at Amazon, which has a strong focus on robotics.
“I think there’s an opportunity here to be a leader, a player, and an innovator in the field,” Watson said in an interview with the Associated Press.
“Amazon’s approach is really geared towards doing the work, so it’s an interesting combination.”
Penguin will also continue its AI research with Watson, which will be led by cofounder Jeff Jarvis, who previously led the team that built the Google Assistant.
Jarvis is a robotics expert and has worked with Google on a range of research projects, including the Google DeepMind AI lab.
Jarvis has previously worked at Google on AI and robotics research.
Penguin’s hiring comes on the heels of Amazon’s hiring of a pair of senior AI researchers in recent months, including a professor at Stanford University, a former Microsoft researcher and a former Google researcher.
Watson and Jarvis will help lead the company through its transition to a more AI-centric environment, which could mean a more hands-on approach to robotics.