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更新时间:2017-10-24 18:26:43 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Tech Giants Are Paying Huge Salaries for Scarce A.I. Talent

SAN FRANCISCO — Silicon Valley’s startups have always had a recruiting advantage over the industry’s giants: Take a chance on us and we’ll give you an ownership stake that could make you rich if the company is successful.


Now the tech industry’s race to embrace artificial intelligence may render that advantage moot — at least for the few prospective employees who know a lot about AI.

现在,科技行业争相发展人工智能(artificial intelligence,简称AI)可能会让这个优势失去意义,至少对为数不多非常了解AI的潜在员工来说是这样。

Tech’s biggest companies are placing huge bets on artificial intelligence, banking on things ranging from face-scanning smartphones and conversational coffee-table gadgets to computerized health care and autonomous vehicles. As they chase this future, they are doling out salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent.


Typical AI specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them. All of them requested anonymity because they did not want to damage their professional prospects.


Well-known names in the AI field have received compensation in salary and shares in a company’s stock that total single- or double-digit millions over a four- or five-year period. And at some point they renew or negotiate a new contract, much like a professional athlete.


At the top end are executives with experience managing AI projects. In a court filing this year, Google revealed that one of the leaders of its self-driving-car division, Anthony Levandowski, a longtime employee who started with Google in 2007, took home over $120 million in incentives before joining Uber last year through the acquisition of a startup he had co-founded that drew the two companies into a court fight over intellectual property.

最上面的是有管理AI项目经验的高管。在今年的一份法庭备案文件中,谷歌(Google)透露其自动驾驶汽车部门的负责人之一、从2007年开始就在谷歌任职的老员工安东尼·莱万多夫斯基(Anthony Levandowski)在去年因为联合创办的一家创业公司被收购而加入优步(Uber)前,获得了超过1.2亿美元的奖励。那场收购导致两家公司因为知识产权而闹上了法庭。

Salaries are spiraling so fast that some joke the tech industry needs a National Football League-style salary cap on AI specialists. “That would make things easier,” said Christopher Fernandez, one of Microsoft’s hiring managers. “A lot easier.”

工资涨得这么快,以致有人开玩笑说,科技业需要对AI专家实行全国橄榄球联盟(National Football League)式的工资上限。“这会让事情容易些,”微软的招聘经理之一克里斯托弗·费尔南德斯(Christopher Fernandez)说。“容易很多。”

There are a few catalysts for the huge salaries. The auto industry is competing with Silicon Valley for the same experts who can help build self-driving cars. Giant tech companies like Facebook and Google also have plenty of money to throw around and problems that they think AI can help solve, like building digital assistants for smartphones and home gadgets and spotting offensive content.


Most of all, there is a shortage of talent, and the big companies are trying to land as much of it as they can. Solving tough AI problems is not like building the flavor-of-the-month smartphone app. In the entire world, fewer than 10,000 people have the skills necessary to tackle serious artificial intelligence research, according to Element AI, an independent lab in Montreal.

最重要的是,人才短缺,大公司都在努力将尽可能多的人才招致麾下。解决棘手的AI问题不像开发风靡一时的智能手机应用。据设在蒙特利尔的独立实验室Element AI称,全世界只有不到一万人具备进行重要的人工智能研究所需的技能。

“What we’re seeing is not necessarily good for society, but it is rational behavior by these companies,” said Andrew Moore, dean of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, who previously worked at Google. “They are anxious to ensure that they’ve got this small cohort of people” who can work on this technology.

“我们目前看到的情形,不一定对社会有利,但这些公司这么做是理智的,”曾任职于谷歌的卡内基梅隆大学(Carnegie Mellon University)计算机科学学院院长安德鲁·穆尔(Andrew Moore)说。“它们渴望确保自己获得了”能够研究该项技术的“这一小群人”。

Costs at an AI lab called DeepMind, acquired by Google for a reported $650 million in 2014, when it employed about 50 people, illustrate the issue. Last year, according to the company’s recently released annual financial accounts in Britain, the lab’s “staff costs” as it expanded to 400 employees totaled $138 million. That comes out to $345,000 an employee.


“It is hard to compete with that, especially if you are one of the smaller companies,” said Jessica Cataneo, an executive recruiter at the tech recruiting firm CyberCoders.

“很难与之竞争,特别是你是小公司的话,”科技招聘公司CyberCoders的高管招聘人员杰茜卡·卡塔内奥(Jessica Cataneo)说。

With so few AI specialists available, big tech companies are also hiring the best and brightest of academia. In the process, they are limiting the number of professors who can teach the technology.


Uber hired 40 people from Carnegie Mellon’s groundbreaking AI program in 2015 to work on its self-driving-car project. Over the last several years, four of the best-known AI researchers in academia have left or taken leave from their professorships at Stanford University. At the University of Washington, six of 20 artificial intelligence professors are now on leave or partial leave and working for outside companies.

2015年,优步从卡内基梅隆大学开创性的AI专业招聘了40人,参与其自动驾驶汽车项目。过去几年里,学术界最有名的AI研究人员中,四人离开斯坦福大学的教授职位或请假。在华盛顿大学(University of Washington),20名人工智能教授中目前有六人处在休假或部分休假状态,为外部公司工作。

“There is a giant sucking sound of academics going into industry,” said Oren Etzioni, who is on leave from his position as a professor at the University of Washington to oversee the nonprofit Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

“高校学者进入行业造成了巨大的人员流失,”为了管理非营利组织艾伦人工智能研究所(Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence)而从华盛顿大学的教授职位上请假的奥伦·埃齐奥尼(Oren Etzioni)说。

Some professors are finding a way to compromise. Luke Zettlemoyer of the University of Washington turned down a position at a Google-run Seattle laboratory that he said would have paid him more than three times his current salary (about $180,000, according to public records). Instead, he chose a post at the Allen Institute that allowed him to continue teaching.

一些教授找到了折中的办法。华盛顿大学的卢克·泽特尔莫耶(Luke Zettlemoyer)拒绝了谷歌设在西雅图的实验室提供的岗位。他说,该岗位的待遇是目前工资(公开记录显示约为18万美元)的三倍多。他选择了允许他继续授课的艾伦研究所的职位。

“There are plenty of faculty that do this, splitting their time in various percentages between industry and academia,” Zettlemoyer said. “The salaries are so much higher in industry, people only do this because they really care about being an academian.”