AI pioneer Raj Reddy among Computer History Museum Fellows


Artificial Intelligence and robotics visionary Dabbala Rajagopal “Raj” Reddy is among the 2021 Fellow Award honorees of the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

Raj reddy, the Moza Bint Nasser University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, has focused his career on how technology can serve society, particularly in education and in developing societies.

Being selected to be a Fellow of the Computer History Museum seems like you have become an antique,” Reddy said through a press note. “I guess when you have been working with computers for over six decades you do become ancient!”

He is known not just for research in AI but is a world leader in speech recognition. He is inspired by the belief that speech recognition software can dramatically improve access to information for the 2.5 billion illiterate people in the world.

Reddy, founding director of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute and a former dean of the School of Computer Science, developed the first system capable of recognizing continuous speech, and his research team developed many of the concepts underlying modern commercial speech recognition technology.

These ideas were adopted in a variety of applied AI systems.

His research interests extend beyond speech recognition to include robotics, human-computer interaction, innovations in higher education, and efforts to bridge the “digital divide,” particularly for people in developing nations.

He initiated CMU’s autonomous vehicle program, which subsequently has spawned numerous innovations.

In 1998, CMU became the first university in the world to offer a PhD in robotics, and in 1991 Reddy became Dean of the School of Computer Science, a position he held until 1999.

As dean, he helped create a number of groundbreaking centers and institutes related to language, human-computer interaction, automatic learning, and software research.

Reddy also created The Universal Digital Library, a free, online digital library that includes more than 1.5 million volumes, with book digitization centers in China, India, Egypt and the United States.

He was instrumental in establishing in 2008 the Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies, which enrolls thousands of low-income, gifted youth from rural southeastern India.

Reddy’s contributions to science and statesmanship were recognized in 2006 by the National Science Board, which presented him with its prestigious Vannevar Bush Award.

In 1984, France awarded Reddy the Legion of Honor for his work in developing countries. In 1994, he received computer science’s equivalent to the Nobel Prize, the Association for Computing Machinery’s Turing Award, for his contributions to AI.

Reddy is a co-founder of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and was its president from 1987–1989.

Over its three-decade history, previous winners of the CHM Fellow Awards include CMU alumni James Gosling, Edward Feigenbaum, Charles M. Geschke and Ivan Sutherland and former faculty such as C Gordon Bell. Other winners have included Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, NASA mathematician and “hidden figure” Katherine Johnson, software pioneer Rear Admiral Grace Hopper and World Wide Web creator Tim Berners Lee.

Museum CEO Dan’l Lewin said CHM’s Fellow Awards recognize extraordinary individuals for a lifetime of achievement in computing and technology, but their impact today can be seen in art, healthcare, education, government and myriad other fields and disciplines.

Additional 2021 Fellow Award individuals to be honored for their lifetime of achievement in computing and technology include Raymond Ozzie, Andries van Dam and Lillian Schwartz.

A series of virtual events will explore the story and impact of each honoree and the present and future of technology for humanity beginning with an event on March 18 that celebrates Ozzie.