Jeff Shrager // my vita

Adjunct Professor, Symbolic Systems Program, Stanford University:

My current "Day Job" is Chief Scientist of Blue Dot Change:

The hard sciences are the easy ones, and the soft sciences are the hard ones!

Recent (and/or) Interesting Publications, Presentations, etc: 

ELIZA Reinterpreted: The world's first chatbot was not intended as a chatbot at all.

AI-Augmented Clinical Decision Support in a Patient-Centric Precision Oncology Registry. AI in Precision Oncology. Published Online:17 Oct 2023.

Adam Gordon Bell interviewed me about the discovery of the original ELIZA for a recent episode of his CoRecursive podcast!  [errata]

Our team has recently found the original ELIZA, written in the mid 1960s by Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT in MAD-SLIP.

Hyper-normal science and its significance. Perspectives on Science, MIT Press, Perspectives on Science, 2022, 

Virtual Trials: Causally-validated treatment effects efficiently learned from an observational brain cancer registry. AI in Medicine, 2023.
Practice Make Better: A Classroom Investigation of Practice Effects. J. College Science Teaching, 50(3), 17-22, 2021.
Is Cancer Solvable? Towards Efficient and Ethical Biomedical Science.  J Law Med and Ethics, 47 (2019): 362-368.
ELIZA in BASIC; Ch. 4 in Stefan Holtgen and Marianna Baranovska (Eds.)  Hello, I'm Eliza.
Prototyping a precision oncology 3.0 rapid learning platform; Connor Sweetnam, et al.  BMC Bioinformatics, 2018, 19:341
A TedEd-Style video I explaining GCTA (Global Cumulative Treatment Analysis)
Molecular Tumor Boards: What they are; What they do; What they need.  (A video of a talk I gave at Microsoft Research Feb. 2015)
Rapid Learning for Precision Oncology (Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, 2014)
Theoretical Issues for Global Cumulative Treatment Analysis (GCTA). (arXiv:1308.106)
Cancer: A computational disease that AI can cure (AI Magazine 2011)
The journey from child to scientist: Integrating cognitive development and the education sciences (APA Press 2012)
BioBIKE: A Web-based, programmable, integrated biological knowledge base (Nucleic Acids Research 2009)

Other Interesting or Useful Links:

ElizaGen -- The Eliza Genealogy Project
My Public Github Account
Gorilla Science
Diary of an Insane Cell Mechanic

Brief Bio:

Dr. Jeff Shrager is Chief Scientists of Blue Dot Change, and Adjunct Professor in the Symbolic Systems Program at Stanford. He holds BSE, MSE, and PhD degrees in Computer Science,  from The University of Pennsylvania, and Cognitive and Developmental Neuropsychology, from Carnegie Mellon University. He has conducted post doctoral work in Cognitive Neuroscience and Functional MRI at the University of Pittsburgh Learning Research and Development Center, and Marine Environmental Microbial Molecular Biology at the Carnegie Inst. of Washington, Dept. of Plant Biology at Stanford. His work spans Artificial Intelligence and the Cognitive Sciences, including cognitive and developmental neuroscience, formal and informal science and math education, scientific computing, human learning and brain development, artificial intelligence, machine learning, molecular, microbial, and marine biology and genomics, bioinformatics, environmental biochemistry, and discrete mathematics, and computational simulation of a wide range of complex systems. Dr. Shrager's current applied work focuses on how we can oxidize (and thus remove) methane from the atmosphere. In his academic work he studies how science works and how scientists think, and on building intelligent tools, agents, models, and platforms to support and improve scientific reasoning and other aspects of the scientific process. He has authored, or co-authored, over one hundred peer-reviewed papers, and three books, and has co-founded three successful AI-based biomedical companies, one in drug discovery robotics, and two in cancer informatics. Before joining Blue Dot Change, Dr. Shrager was co-founder, CTO, and Director of Engineering and Research of xCures, his third AI-based biomedical startup. 

Extended research summary: 

My work focuses primarily on how science works and how scientists think, and on building intelligent tools, agents, models, and infrastructure to support and improve scientific reasoning, and other aspects of the scientific process. Symbolic and sub-symbolic computation must co-operate to support flexible, robust learning and cognition. Symbolic-level "complex" learning and reasoning is often depicted by, for example, "book learning", the pinnacle of which is taken to be philosophical or scientific reasoning and discovery. Meanwhile, sub-symbolic "sensory-motor" or "perceptual" learning is depicted by, for example, learning to walk, cook, or drive. Through computational modeling, as well as laboratory and field research, I study how symbolic and the sub-symbolic/sensory-motor/perceptual computation co-operate in enabling flexible and robust learning and cognition in many areas. Especially interesting is early child development, during which period the brain is becoming organized, and the child is embedded in a rich cognitive and sensory-motor scaffold. My computational work in this area has produced several influential models of brain self-organization, as well as of how high level reason interacts with, and indeed relies upon, the sub-symbolic cognitive infrastructure, while, at the same time, the organization of the sub-symbolic sensory-motor systems is guided by higher level activity. Three projects stand out in triangulating my contributions in these areas: 1. My model (with David Klahr) of "instructionless learning" based on a process, called "commonsense perception", which combines symbolic and "perceptual" reasoning; 2. My model (with Mark Johnson) of cortical parcellation, which explains how the brain obtains its functional architecture, and which was a precursor to later "deep learning" architectures; and 3. My model (with Bob Sielger) of the development of arithmetic knowledge and strategic skill, which has been widely influential upon a generation of developmental modelers, as well as in educational science, and which my colleagues and I continue to evolve to encompass recent findings in Systems Neuroscience. I also apply my work to real-world, science, especially in biocomputing: I co-founded, and served as CTO and engineering lead for, two (slightly) successful scientific biocomputing companies, as well as having envisioned, created, and led the team that developed BioBike and BioDeducta, decade-long NASA and NSF-funded projects that built the world's first cloud-based "intelligent" scientific computing engine (a precursor to Wolfram Alpha). I have co-authored nearly a hundred peer-reviewed papers in areas such as machine learning, graph theory, developmental psychology, computational psychology, drug discovery, molecular biology, computational biology, privacy and computer security, and even in the philosophy of science.