DeepMind Chief Recognised In New Year Honours List

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Demis Hassabis has been named CBE for breakthroughs by the controversial Google-owned British artificial intelligence company

credit: DeepMind
credit: DeepMind

Demis Hassabis, chief executive of Google-owned artificial intelligence (AI) firm DeepMind, has been named on the New Year Honours list for “services to science and technology”.

Hassabis was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

He founded DeepMind in 2010 with Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman after the three met at University College London’s Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit. Google bought the company four years later.

The company has developed AI technologies for use in a variety of fields, including medicine and gaming.

Contributions to science

Hassabis said the award was a tribute to the advances made by the DeepMind team.

“This is recognition of the immense contribution they have already made to the world of science and technology, and I’m excited about the potential for many more breakthroughs and societal benefit in the years ahead,” he said.

DeepMind developed a program called AlphaGo that in 2015 and 2016 beat the world’s top human Go players.

Earlier this month DeepMind said a more generic version of the same AI, called AlphaZero, was able to beat AlphaGo at the game after just a few hours of training itself in the game. The same program also beat the world champion chess-playing program and one of the top shogi-playing programs.

More controversially, the firm was involved in an experimetial programme with the NHS that involved processing large amounts of sensitive medical data. The programme was cancelled after it emerged that it had been set up without informing patients that their data would be used.

Other technology figures named on the list include Dana Toba, chief executive of fibre optic broadband firm Hyperoptic, Jacqueline de Rojas, president of techUK, Jessica Butcher, co-founder of augmented reality company Blippar, and Richard Wilson of the Independent Game Developers Association (Tiga).

A total of 1,123 people are recognised on the list of honours, which are awarded for merit, exceptional achievements or service.

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