When Ziad Sultan started thinking about artificial intelligence, there was no enthusiasm. Not even a wave of sectarian excitement. Sultan, who is now Spotify’s vice president of personalization, responsible for a series of new AI features for the audio streamer, was first detected in the early 2000s. He was 17, had just moved from Beirut to Cambridge, Massachusetts, was not yet fluent in English, and began studying the then unfashionable subject at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“That time was really an in-between time,” Sultan remembers. “It was not a time of very active enthusiasm around AI. But this promise has always fascinated me.
Nearly two decades later, Sultan’s early intuition that AI was going to be THE the field that defined the technology has finally come to fruition. Since becoming Spotify’s AI czar in 2019, Sultan has led many of the company’s efforts to expose consumers to the riches of machine learning, starting with personalized playlists and expanding now extending to AI DJs and translated podcasts.