How Deep Learning Can Give Birth to General Artificial Intelligence

From chessbots to chatbots and from search algorithms to industrial assembly machines – humanity has arrived at the age of machine intelligence; or at least machine work, if we take seriously a definition of intelligence as “the abilities to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment“ (Encyclopedia Britannica). While some machines like IBM’s Watson are astonishingly good at solving certain problems, a general artificial intelligence (AI) which would satisfy the definition above has yet to be created. AI research has been around since the mid-fifties, but the enormous scientific and technical challenges of building a “full AI” are still keeping researchers and programmers awake at night. Spearheading today’s research is a London-based start-up, DeepMind, which was founded in 2010 and bought by Google in 2014. Co-founder and CEO Demis Hassabis is a former child chess prodigy, video game creator, neuroscientist, and an artificial intelligence researcher whose vision is to “solve intelligence and use it to solve everything else”. With more than 150 brilliant machine learning experts, AI researchers and coders, Google DeepMind is now one of the most promising candidates for realizing this extremely ambitious goal. At Falling Walls, Demis provides rare insights into the organisation that is set out to create an “Apollo mission” for AI research.

Demis Hassabis is the Founder and CEO of DeepMind, the world’s leading AI research company, and now a part of Alphabet. DeepMind has produced landmark research breakthroughs such as AlphaGo, the first program to beat the world champion at the game of Go, and AlphaFold, which was heralded as a solution to the 50-year grand challenge of protein folding. A chess and programming child prodigy, Demis coded the classic AI simulation game Theme Park aged 17. After graduating from Cambridge University in computer science with a double first, he founded pioneering videogames company Elixir Studios, and completed a PhD in cognitive neuroscience at UCL investigating memory and imagination processes. His work has been cited over 80000 times and has featured in Science’s top 10 Breakthroughs of the Year on 4 separate occasions. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and in 2018 he was awarded a CBE.

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