Government names DeepMind chief as top AI adviser

CognitionX founder and Southampton University professor Wendy Hall also picked for AI-focused roles

Credit: Tobias Hase/DPA/PA Images​

Demis Hassabis, chief executive of UK-based tech company DeepMind, has been picked to advise the government’s newly created Office for Artificial Intelligence.

Hassabis (pictured above), who co-founded the Google-owned AI specialist, will “provide expert industry guidance” to the recently formed government body. 

The Office for AI was created as part of the Industrial Strategy unveiled by the government in November 2017, and has responsibility for delivering the initiatives set out in the £1bn AI Sector Deal published in April.

“I’m honoured to be taking on the role of Adviser to the Office for AI, and look forward to the huge opportunity that lies ahead,” Hassabis said. “I’ve always believed that AI could be one of the most important and widely beneficial breakthroughs of the 21st century – and as a proud Londoner, it’s fantastic to see the UK’s world-class universities and start-ups already making major scientific advances. Alongside the research, I’m very excited about the role the UK can play in making the case globally for AI’s safe and ethical deployment.”

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Overseeing the work of the Office for AI will be the AI Council, which is to be be chaired by Tabitha Goldstaub, founder of CognitionX – another London-based AI firm. The council, which will contain other representatives of industry, will be tasked with helping promote understanding of AI among businesses, and removing barriers to innovation.

Goldstaub, whose company also runs the AI-focused CogX event, will take on an additional post as the UK’s AI business champion. 

The third appointment announced by the government today is that of professor Dame Wendy Hall of the University of Southampton, who will serve as the country’s AI skills champion.

Goldstaub said: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to transform our world for the better but to be successful we need to galvanize people in businesses right across the country. I’m honoured to be named chair of the AI Council because I’m passionate about championing the rapid and responsible adoption of this cutting-edge technology. By focusing on skills, data ethics and diversity, we can boost innovation and funding and put the UK at the forefront of this exciting and revolutionary sector.”

Sam Trendall

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