From Gadgets to Google: Jason Lin’s (’17) Journey to Make the World a Better Place – USC Viterbi

Computer Science Alumni Jason Lin

COMPUTER SCIENCE ALUMNI JASON LIN. PHOTO/ COURTESY OF JASON LIN.

Jason Lin was born in Canada and raised in Hong Kong but grew up around the world. His passion for science, mathematics and business led to a successful career working with Google DeepMind, advising the United Nations (UN) and launching his first AI (FABER). Jason gave us an update on life after graduation. Answers are organized for style and clarity.

After graduating from USC what were the most exciting opportunities?
JASON LIN GETS MEMORIES AS A TROJAN.

LIN HAS FAVORABLE MEMORIES AS TROJAN. PHOTO/ COURTESY OF JASON LIN.

Steve Jobs said, “you can connect the dots backwards.” Having fun with electronics, I joined the Apple macOS group and learned from the Jobs team. Then I wanted to live in New York, and I got a great opportunity with Spotify. As my interests shifted to robotics, working with Sergey Brin at Google X was career defining, and DeepMind continues my pursuit of AI.

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Tell us about your startup FABER. What advice would you give to tech entrepreneurs?

FABER acquires restaurants. Like Spotify’s “Discover Weekly,” it uses recommendation systems, computer vision, and machine learning from graphs to understand personalized food servings. Two pieces of advice: build a star team near you, and find out if the product market fits. Tech innovators can get obsessed with perfecting their idea. But unless there is already a market, your “product” in mind is unlikely to be the final form that users want. Bringing together a large team is therefore important to evaluate and implement your strategy. In short: iterate fast, stay simple, validate your minimum viable product (MVP) and iterate.

Tell us about your work with Google DeepMind and the company’s impact around the world.

My work at DeepMind is twofold: as a researcher I develop machine learning algorithms and publish breakthroughs at conferences. As a consultant, I build AI solutions for Google products through user studies, data collection, and testing. I have a passion for education and am mentoring a first-generation Colombian student under DeepMind’s interdisciplinary scholar program to expand access to underrepresented populations.

JASON LIN SPEAKS AT THE UNITED NATIONS.

LIN SPEAKING AT THE UNITED NATIONS. PHOTO/ COURTESY OF JASON LIN.

Tell us about your speech at the UN and your participation on “The Use of AI in Energy Decisions,” Expert Panel.

After I founded Lyft and Google X, as a fellow of the Stanford Existential Risk Initiative, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research invited me to a workshop series. Together with global experts from Microsoft VPs to Faculty Deans, we advise the UN Security Council on peace-building negotiations to prevent AI from being used in war.

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What are some of your most exciting accomplishments?

It is very exciting to see my work at DeepMind bring real benefits to the world. While I credit my success to pioneering Lyft’s 3D LiDAR self-driving detector and CUDA’s first-ever TensorFlow mobile library on Google X, both challenge me to build industry-scale AI products from scratch. I’ve grown a lot as a manager by hiring and directing a team of eight engineers and designers as the founder of FABER, and I’m very happy to see our alumni have new jobs at Meta, Google and CMU today.

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What is your proudest moment as a Trojan?

I completed a three-year sprint of an exciting hackathon of more than twenty appearances before Stanford’s two victories over the entire USC team, winning prizes for Facebook and Amazon while getting a place to compete in Facebook’s Global Hackathon, where we placed third. Fighting!

Published on November 28, 2022

Last updated on November 28, 2022

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