Who is Jeremy Howard?

Jeremy Howard is an English-born Australian entrepreneur, educator, and data scientist. Howard started his career as a management consultant at McKinsey and Co, but later founded several companies and contributed to open-source projects in the field of programming.

In more recent years, Howard has moved into AI education and is also a software developer and deep learning researcher. 

Early career

Howard started his career at McKinsey whilst studying full-time at the University of Melbourne. In the early 1990s, Howard was McKinsey’s only analytical specialist in the Asia-Pacific region and one of just three worldwide. 

According to his LinkedIn profile, Howard “built optimization models, did statistical analyses, developed data models, and made recommendations” for client teams whose analytical needs were more complex than the norm.

In 1997, Howard joined AT Kearney as the founding manager of the Leveraging Customer Information practice. This was the company’s first such practice focused on the utilization of what is today called big data. 

Entrepreneurship and Kaggle

Howard founded two companies in 1999. The first, known as The Optimal Decisions Group, was an insurance company that based its pricing on the profit-maximization approach. The second was FastMail, an email services company that was later sold to Opera Software.

By 2011, Howard had sold both companies and briefly retired with his windfall. In search of an intellectual challenge, however, he soon moved to the United States and worked as President and Chief Scientist at Kaggle. 

The online community for data scientists and machine learning researchers had just been founded, and Howard helped it reach a dominant position before he left to start another venture in December 2013. 

This venture was Enlitic, a medical diagnostics company that used machine learning to make medical diagnostics more accurate, accessible, and efficient. Howard remained as CEO until April 2016.

Move into artificial intelligence

Howard joined Doc.ai in June 2016 as Chief Science Officer. Like Enlitic, Doc.ai’s mission was to facilitate the transformation of healthcare via machine intelligence. That same month he also became Chief Scientist at Platform.ai, an “end-to-end codeless solution for the development of computer vision models.

Over this period, Howard was also active in academia. He taught data science and machine learning at Singularity University in California and, in August 2016, joined the faculty of the University of San Francisco. 

Howard also became a member of the Global AI Council at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January 2019. The council is one of six in WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and seeks to better understand the opportunities and risks associated with artificial intelligence.

Fast.ai

Fast.ai is a research lab that strives to make deep learning more widely accessible and applicable. Howard co-founded the company with his wife Dr. Rachel Thomas, a professor and data scientist at the Queensland University of Technology.

He started Fast.ai after becoming frustrated that while neural networks were important and were going to change the world, they were not easily available because there was no source code or software to run them on GPUs.

Fast.ai’s machine learning course is perhaps one of the most popular available today as it requires no coding experience. In an interview with Weights & Biases, Howard explained to Lukas Biewald why the company’s accessibility ethos has made it successful: “Basically, the goal was, and still is, to be able to use deep learning without requiring any code so that, you know, because the vast majority of the world can’t code…

Today, Fast.ai offers two courses, software, and a book with guidance on everything from foundational elements (such as the definition of a machine learning algorithm) to more complex ideas and topics.

Key takeaways:

  • Jeremy Howard is an entrepreneur, educator, and data scientist. Howard started his career at McKinsey and Co, but later founded several companies and contributed to open-source projects in the field of programming. In more recent years, Howard has moved into AI education, software development, and deep learning research. 
  • Howard sold two Australian companies in 2011 and briefly retired with his windfall. In search of an intellectual challenge, however, he soon moved to the United States and worked as President and Chief Scientist at Kaggle. 
  • Fast.ai is a research lab that strives to make deep learning more widely accessible and applicable. Howard co-founded the company with his wife Dr. Rachel Thomas, a professor and data scientist at the Queensland University of Technology. The company offers various courses, software, and a book.

Key Highlights

  • Background and Early Career:
    • Jeremy Howard is an English-born Australian entrepreneur, educator, and data scientist.
    • He began his career as a management consultant at McKinsey and Co while studying full-time at the University of Melbourne.
    • Howard played a significant analytical role at McKinsey, focusing on optimization models, statistical analyses, data models, and recommendations for complex analytical needs.
    • In 1997, he joined AT Kearney as the founding manager of the Leveraging Customer Information practice, focusing on big data utilization.
  • Entrepreneurship and Kaggle:
    • Howard founded two companies in 1999: The Optimal Decisions Group (an insurance company) and FastMail (an email services company), which was later sold to Opera Software.
    • He briefly retired after selling both companies in 2011.
    • Howard then moved to the United States and worked as President and Chief Scientist at Kaggle, an online community for data scientists and machine learning researchers.
    • He played a crucial role in helping Kaggle become a dominant platform in the field.
  • Enlitic and Doc.ai:
    • Howard started Enlitic, a medical diagnostics company that utilized machine learning for more accurate and efficient medical diagnostics.
    • He later joined Doc.ai as Chief Science Officer, focusing on using machine intelligence to transform healthcare.
    • Howard also became Chief Scientist at Platform.ai, focusing on computer vision model development.
  • Move into AI Education and Research:
    • Howard was active in academia, teaching data science and machine learning at Singularity University and the University of San Francisco.
    • He became a member of the Global AI Council at the World Economic Forum in January 2019.
    • Howard co-founded Fast.ai, a research lab aimed at making deep learning accessible, with his wife Dr. Rachel Thomas.
  • Fast.ai and AI Education:
    • Fast.ai offers accessible deep learning courses, software, and a book to make machine learning more widely applicable.
    • Jeremy Howard’s goal with Fast.ai is to enable people to use deep learning without requiring coding skills, making it accessible to a broader audience.

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