NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang Encourages Caltech Graduates to Embrace Unconventional Paths

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NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang delivered an inspiring commencement address to Caltech graduates on Friday, urging them to pursue their craft with dedication and resilience, and to view setbacks as new opportunities. This message was conveyed during the ceremony held in Pasadena, California, according to the NVIDIA Blog.

Encouraging Unconventional Thinking

Huang, trading his signature leather jacket for black and yellow academic regalia, encouraged the nearly 600 graduates to believe in something unconventional and unexplored, but also to ensure their pursuits are informed and reasoned. “You may find your GPU. You may find your CUDA. You may find your generative AI. You may find your NVIDIA,” he said.

The Evolution of Computing

Addressing the graduates, Huang recounted the decades-long evolution of the computing industry, emphasizing the pivotal moment of AI transformation. “Computers today are the single most important instrument of knowledge, and it’s foundational to every single industry in every field of science,” he noted. Huang stressed the importance of understanding current developments as they enter the industry.

NVIDIA’s Deep Learning Bet

Huang shared how over a decade ago, NVIDIA, then a small company, bet on deep learning, investing billions of dollars and years of engineering resources to reinvent every computing layer. “No one knew how far deep learning could scale, and if we didn’t build it, we’d never know,” he remarked, referencing the famous line from Field of Dreams: “If we don’t build it, they can’t come.”

Robotics and Future Opportunities

Looking to the future, Huang highlighted robotics as the next wave of AI, a field where NVIDIA’s journey was marked by a series of setbacks. He reflected on a period when NVIDIA faced significant challenges, pushing the company to seek out untapped areas — what he refers to as “zero-billion-dollar markets.”

“With no more markets to turn to, we decided to build something where we are sure there are no customers,” Huang said. This approach led NVIDIA to build the first robotics computer, processing a deep learning algorithm, which has since paved the way for the company’s current AI advancements.

Resilience and Agility

Huang emphasized resilience and agility as essential traits that strengthen character. “One setback after another, we shook it off and skated to the next opportunity. Each time, we gain skills and strengthen our character,” he said. “No setback that comes our way doesn’t look like an opportunity these days.”

He also referenced a personal experience from his travels in Japan, where observing a gardener’s dedication to Kyoto’s famous moss garden taught him the value of prioritizing one’s life’s work.

“Prioritize your life,” Huang concluded, “and you will have plenty of time to do the important things.”

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