July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

NVIDIA CEO Delivers Caltech Commencement Address

NVIDIA Founder and CEO Jensen Huang on Friday encouraged Caltech graduates to pursue their craft with dedication and resilience, and to see setbacks as new opportunities.

“I hope you believe in something. Something unconventional, something unexplored. But let him inform himself, let him reason and let him dedicate himself to making that happen,” he stated. “You can find your GPU. You can find your CUDA. Maybe you'll find your AI generative. You might find your NVIDIA.”

Trading in his signature leather jacket for black and yellow academic badges, Huang addressed the nearly 600 graduates at his graduation ceremony in Pasadena, California, beginning with the story of the computer industry's decades-long evolution to this pivotal moment. of AI transformation.

“Today, computers are the most important instrument of knowledge and are fundamental to all industries in all fields of science,” Huang said. “When entering the industry, it's important to know what's going on.”

He shared how, more than a decade ago, NVIDIA (a small company at the time) bet on deep learning, investing billions of dollars and years of engineering resources to reinvent every computing layer.

“No one knew how far deep learning could scale, and if we didn't build it, we would never know,” Huang said. Referring to the famous line of field of dreams – if you build it, he will come – he said: “Our logic is: if we don't build it, they can't come.”

Looking ahead, Huang said, the next wave of AI is robotics, a field in which NVIDIA's journey was the result of a series of setbacks.

He reflected on a period in NVIDIA's past when the company created new products each year that “would be incredibly successful and generate enormous amounts of excitement. And a year later, they expelled us from those markets.”

These obstacles pushed NVIDIA to look for untapped areas, what Huang calls “zero billion dollar markets.”

“With no more markets to turn to, we decided to build something where we are sure there are no customers,” Huang said. “Because one of the things that can definitely be guaranteed is that where there are no customers, there are no competitors.”

Robotics was that new market. NVIDIA built the first robotic computer, Huang said, processing a deep learning algorithm. More than a decade later, that pivot has given the company the opportunity to create the next wave of AI.

“One setback after another, we overcome it and move on to the next opportunity. Each time we acquire skills and strengthen our character,” Huang said. “Any setback that comes our way doesn't seem like an opportunity these days.”

Huang highlighted the importance of resilience and agility as superpowers that strengthen character.

“The world can be unfair and put you in difficult situations. Shake it off quickly,” she said, with a tongue-in-cheek reference to one of Taylor Swift's biggest hits. “There is another opportunity, or create one.”

Huang concluded by sharing a story from his travels to Japan, where, while observing a gardener painstakingly tending Kyoto's famous moss garden, he realized that when a person dedicates themselves to their craft and prioritizes their life's work, they always has enough time for time.

“Prioritize your life,” he said, “and you'll have plenty of time to do the important things.”

Main image courtesy of Caltech.

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