Mar 16 • 1HR 38M

Richard Socher: Re-Imagining Search

On neural networks for language, leading Salesforce Research, research and management in AI, and taking on the only game in town with a new search engine.

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Interviews with various people who research, build, or use AI, including academics, engineers, artists, entrepreneurs, and more.
Episode details

In episode 64 of The Gradient Podcast, Daniel Bashir speaks to Richard Socher.

Richard is founder and CEO of, a new search engine that lets you personalize your search workflow and eschews tracking and invasive ads. Richard was previously Chief Scientist at Salesforce where he led work on fundamental and applied research, product incubation, CRM search, customer service automation and a cross-product AI platform. He was an adjunct professor at Stanford’s CS department as well as founder and CEO/CTO of MetaMind, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2016. He received his PhD from Stanford’s CS Department in 2014.

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  • (00:00) Intro

  • (02:20) Richard Socher origin story + time at Metamind, Salesforce (AI Economist, CTRL, ProGen)

  • (22:00) Why Richard advocated for deep learning in NLP

  • (27:00) Richard’s perspective on language

  • (32:20) Is physical grounding and language necessary for intelligence?

  • (40:10) Frankfurtian bullshit and language model utterances as truth

  • (47:00) Lessons from Salesforce Research

  • (53:00) Balancing fundamental research with product focus

  • (57:30) The AI Economist + how should policymakers account for limitations?

  • (1:04:50), the chatbot wars, and taking on search giants

  • (1:13:50) Re-imagining the vision for and components of a search engine

  • (1:18:00) The future of generative models in search and the internet

  • (1:28:30) Richard’s advice for early-career technologists

  • (1:37:00) Outro