The Gradient
The Gradient: Perspectives on AI
Stuart Russell: The Foundations of Artificial Intelligence

Stuart Russell: The Foundations of Artificial Intelligence

On rationality, intelligence, reasoning, and their definitions and roles in AI.

Have suggestions for future podcast guests (or other feedback)? Let us know here!

In episode 44 of The Gradient Podcast, Daniel Bashir speaks to Professor Stuart Russell.

Stuart Russell is a Professor of Computer Science and the Smith-Zadeh Professor in Engineering at UC Berkeley, as well as an Honorary Fellow at Wadham College, Oxford. Professor Russell is the co-author with Peter Norvig of Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, probably the most popular AI textbook in history. He is the founder and head of Berkeley’s Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence and recently authored the book Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control. He has also served as co-chair on the World Economic Forum’s Council on AI and Robotics.

Subscribe to The Gradient Podcast:  Apple Podcasts  | Spotify | Pocket Casts | RSS
Follow The Gradient on Twitter


  • (00:00) Intro

  • (02:45) Stuart’s introduction to AI

  • (05:50) The two most important questions

  • (07:25) Historical perspectives during Stuart’s PhD, agents and learning

  • (14:30) Rationality and Intelligence, Bounded Optimality

  • (20:30) Stuart’s work on Metareasoning

  • (29:45) How does Metareasoning fit with Bounded Optimality?

  • (37:39) “Civilization advances by reducing complex operations to be trivial”

  • (39:20) Reactions to the rise of Deep Learning, connectionist/symbolic debates, probabilistic modeling

  • (51:00) The Deep Learning and traditional AI communities will adopt each other’s ideas

  • (51:55) Why Stuart finds the self-driving car arena interesting, Waymo’s old-fashioned AI approach

  • (57:30) Effective generalization without the full expressive power of first-order logic—deep learning is a “weird way to go about it”

  • (1:03:00) A very short shrift of Human Compatible and its ideas

  • (1:10:42) Outro


The Gradient
The Gradient: Perspectives on AI
Deeply researched, technical interviews with experts thinking about AI and technology. Hosted, recorded, researched, and produced by Daniel Bashir.