Canadian-born Jason Lin was raised in Hong Kong but grew up around the world. His love of science, math and business has led to a successful career at Google DeepMind, advising the United Nations (UN) and founding his own AI startup (FABER). Jason gave us an update on life after graduation. Responses have been edited for style and clarity.
What opportunities were most exciting after graduating from USC?
Steve Jobs said, “You can only connect the dots backwards.” Passionate about electronics, I did an internship on the Apple macOS team and learned from Jobs’ staff. I then wanted to live in New York and found the perfect opportunity with Spotify. As my interests shifted towards robotics, working with Sergey Brin at Google X was career-defining, and DeepMind continues my pursuit of AI.
Tell us about your startup FABER. What advice can you give tech entrepreneurs?
FABER discovers restaurants. Like Spotify’s Discover Weekly, it uses recommendation systems, computer vision and machine learning in charts to curate personalized food feeds. Two pieces of advice: build an A-Star team around yourself and find out how the product fits the market. Tech founders can get carried away trying to perfect their vision. But unless there’s already a market, your “product” in mind probably won’t be the final form users want. Putting together a super team is therefore important to review and implement your strategy. In short: iterate fast, stay piecemeal, validate your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and iterate.
Tell us about your work with Google DeepMind and the company’s global impact.
My work at DeepMind is two-fold: as a researcher, prototyping machine learning algorithms and publishing breakthroughs at conferences. As a consultant, I develop AI solutions for Google products through user studies, data collection and experiments. I have a passion for education and I mentor a first-generation Colombian student on DeepMind’s Diversity Scholars program to expand access to underrepresented communities.
Tell us about your presentation at the UN and your participation in the expert panel “Use of AI in decisions involving violence”.
After my autonomy innovations at Lyft and Google X, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research invited me to a workshop series as a fellow of the Stanford Existential Risk Initiative. Together with global experts from Microsoft VP to faculty deans, we advise the UN Security Council on peace-building through pre-emptive discussions on AI for military use.
Which of your achievements was the most satisfying?
It is particularly gratifying to see that my work at DeepMind is bringing real benefits to the world. While I credit my success to pioneering Lyft’s 3D self-propelled LiDAR detector and TensorFlow’s first-ever CUDA for mobile libraries at Google X, both challenge me to build industrial-scale AI products from scratch. I have grown tremendously as a manager by hiring and mentoring a team of eight engineers and designers as a co-founder of FABER and I am delighted to see our alumni today with young careers at Meta, Google and CMU.
What was your proudest moment as a Trojan?
I capped off an exciting three-year hackathon sprint with over twenty appearances before earning two Stanford wins on an All-USC team, winning Facebook and Amazon awards, and earning myself a spot to compete in Facebook’s Global Hackathon, where we took third place. Keep fighting!
Published on 11/28/2022
Last updated on November 28, 2022