ai head

DeepMind co-founder heading up the government’s new AI department

Image credit: Dreamstime

The government’s new artificial intelligence (AI) department is to be headed by the co-founder of Google-owned machine learning firm DeepMind.

Dr Demis Hassabis will use his new role at the Office for Artificial Intelligence to offer guidance on how the UK can take advantage of the growth of the burgeoning technology. According to the government, this is part of its industrial strategy to make the UK a world leader in the technology.

DeepMind was bought by Google in 2014 and has worked on various projects that utilise the power of neural networks such as AlphaGo, which culminated in a computer beating the world champion at the game.

Google has said that DeepMind algorithms have greatly increased the efficiency of cooling its data centers and improved upon Google Play's personalized app recommendations, among other projects.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport also confirmed that fellow AI expert Tabitha Goldstaub has been named chairwoman and spokeswoman of the AI Council, a new industry body designed to promote adoption of AI. Goldstaub is the co-founder of AI firm CognitionX, an online platform which provides information and access to experts from the world of artificial intelligence.

Digital minister Matt Hancock said: “Whether it’s improving travel, making banking easier or helping people live longer, AI is already revolutionising our economy and our society. Britain is already an authority in AI, with the world’s best AI company and the leading use of AI in Government. We are determined to capitalise on this position."

“Cutting-edge technology is the basis of the future of our economy. Under this government, investment in the tech sector doubled in the last year, is growing at three times the pace of the rest of the economy, unemployment is at a 40-year low, inequality is falling, and we are seeing the first sustained fall in debt in a generation. We must build on these strengths.”

Hancock also announced the appointment of Professor Dame Wendy Hall as a skills champion for AI. Hall co-founded the Web Science Research Initiative with World Wide Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt in 2006.

“We want to harness the best possible AI leadership to help us seize this opportunity,” Mr Hancock said. “Demis Hassabis, Tabitha Goldstaub and Wendy Hall have the expertise and vision to help us make sure the huge benefits of this powerful new technology are available to everyone.”

The newly created Office for AI will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the government’s AI strategy, which includes a £1bn investment from government and the private sector into expanding the AI industry in the UK.

At the Decoded Future event in East London yesterday retail experts said that AI is becoming an increasingly crucial part of consumer-driven businesses. 

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