Kai-Fu Lee (traditional Chinese: 李開復; simplified Chinese: 李开复; pinyin: Lǐ Kāifù; born December 3, 1961) is a Taiwanese computer scientist, businessman, and writer. He is currently based in Beijing, China.
Lee developed a speaker-independent, continuous speech recognition system as his Ph.D. thesis at Carnegie Mellon University. He later worked as an executive, first at Apple, then SGI, Microsoft, and Google. He became the focus of a 2005 legal dispute between Google and Microsoft, his former employer, due to a one-year non-compete agreement that he signed with Microsoft in 2000 when he became its corporate vice president of interactive services. One of the most prominent figures in the Chinese internet sector, he was the founding director of Microsoft Research Asia, serving from 1998 to 2000; and president of Google China, serving from July 2005 through September 4, 2009. After resigning from his post, he founded Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm. He created a website, Wǒxuéwǎng (Chinese: 我学网; lit. 'I-Learn Web') dedicated to helping young Chinese people achieve in their studies and careers, and his "10 Letters to Chinese College Students" have spread widely on the web. He is one of the most followed micro-bloggers in China, in particular on Sina Weibo, where he has over 50 million followers.
In his 2018 book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order, Lee describes how China is rapidly moving forward to become the global leader in AI, and may well surpass the United States, because of China's demographics and its amassing of huge data sets. In a 28 September 2018 interview on the PBS Amanpour program, he stated that artificial intelligence, with all its capabilities, will never be capable of creativity or empathy.
After two years as a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon, Lee joined Apple Computer in 1990 as a principal research scientist. While at Apple (1990–1996), he headed R&D groups responsible for Apple Bandai Pippin, PlainTalk, Casper (speech interface), GalaTea (text to speech system) for Mac Computers.
Lee moved to Silicon Graphics in 1996 and spent a year as the Vice President of its Web Products division, and another year as president of its multimedia software division, Cosmo Software.
In 1998, Lee moved to Microsoft and went to Beijing, China where he played a key role in establishing the Microsoft Research (MSR) division there. MSR China later became known as Microsoft Research Asia, regarded as one of the best computer science research labs in the world. Lee returned to the United States in 2000 and was promoted to corporate vice president of interactive services division at Microsoft from 2000 to 2005.
Vice President, Google; President, Google Greater China, July 2005–September 4, 2009
Corporate Vice President, Natural Interactive Services Division (NISD), Microsoft Corp. 2000–July 2005
Founder & Managing Director, Microsoft Research Asia, China, 1998–2000
President, Cosmo Software, Multimedia software business unit of Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), 1999–2000
Vice President & General Manager, Web Products, Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI), 1998–1999
Vice President, Interactive Media Group, Apple Computer, 1997–1998
Director, Interactive Media, Advanced Technology Group, Apple Computer, 1994–1997
Manager, Speech & Language Technologies Group, Apple Computer, 1991–1994
Principal Speech Scientist, Apple Computer, 1990–1991
Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University, July 1990
Research Computer Scientist, Carnegie Mellon University, 1988–1990
Ph.D. in Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, 1988
B.S. in Computer Science, Columbia University, 1983
Chairman World Economic Forum's Global AI Council
Asia House Asian Business Leader 2018
Fellow, IEEE (inducted 2002)
Member, Committee of 100
Time 100, 2013
Honorary Doctorate Degree, Carnegie Mellon University
Honorary Doctorate Degree, City University of Hong Kong
Be Your Personal Best (《做最好的自己》, published September 2005, People's Publishing House)
Making A World of Difference - Kai-Fu Lee Biography (《世界因你而不同》, published September 2009, China CITIC Press)
Seeing Life Through Death (《向死而生》, published July 2015, by China CITIC Press)
A Walk Into The Future (《与未来同行》, published October 2006, People's Publishing House)
To Student With Love (《一往情深》, published October 2007, People's Publishing House)
Weibo Changing Everything (《微博改变一切》, published February 2011, Beijing Xiron Books Co., Ltd)
Artificial Intelligence (《人工智能》, published May 2017, Beijing Xiron Books Co., Ltd)
AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future (with Chen Qiufan.《AI 2041：預見10個未來新世界》, published June 2021, Taiwan Commonwealth Publishing Co., Ltd)