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Idea Machines

Dec 30, 2018

In this episode I talk to Gary Bradski about the creation of OpenCV, Willow Garage, and how to get around institutional roadblocks.

Gary is perhaps best known as the creator of OpenCV - an open source tool that has touched almost every application that involves computer vision - from cat-identifying AI, to strawberry-picking robots, to augmented reality. Gary has been part of Intel Research, Stanford (where he worked on Stanley, the self driving car that won the first DARPA grand challenge), Magic Leap, and started his own Startups. On top of that Gary was early at Willow Garage - a private research lab that produced two huge innovations in robotics: The open source robot operating system and the pr2 robot. Gary has a track record of seeing potential in technologies long before they appear on the hype radar - everything from neural networks to computer vision to self-driving cars. 

Key Takeaways

  • Aligning incentives inside of organizations is both essential and hard for innovation. Organizations are incentivized to focus on current product lines instead of Schumpeterian long shots. Gary basically had to do incentive gymnastics to get OpenCV to exist.
  • In research organization there's an inherent tension between pressure to produce and exploration. I love Gary's idea of a slowly decreasing salary.
  • Ambitious projects are still totally dependent on a champion. At the end of the day, it means that every ambitious project has a single point of failure. I wonder if there's a way to change that.


Gary on Twitter

The Embedded Vision Alliance

Video of Stanley winning the DARPA Grand Challenge

A short history of Willow Garage