The co-founders of two of the UK’s leading artificial intelligence businesses are joining one of the country’s foremost academics on the issue, in advising the government as it looks to Ai to help boost the post-Brexit economy.
Demis Hassabis, the co-founder of Google-owned DeepMind, is to join CognitionX co-founder Tabitha Goldstaub and Southampton University professor Wendy Hall to advise the government on artificial intelligence, digital secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.
Hassabis joins as an advisor to the government’s new Office for Artificial Intelligence, announced earlier this year. He will add industry expertise to help the country build skills and capability on Ai, which the government sees as a key part of its modern industrial strategy.
The Office for AI is based within government and is responsible for overseeing implementation of the UK’s Ai strategy.
Goldstaub (pictured) is to be chair and spokesperson of the Ai Council, the new industry body tasked with increasing growth in the artificial intelligence sector and promoting its adoption in other sectors of the economy.
Her CognitionX platform provides companies with information and access to Ai experts to boost their businesses. It also runs CogX, one of the largest gatherings of AI experts in the world – and one of the highlights of this month’s London Tech Week.
Research suggests artificial intelligence could add £654bn to the UK economy by 2035.
This week’s appointments form part of the modern industrial strategy, and follow the ‘grand challenges’ announced by the prime minister last month to use the county’s power in research and innovation “to ensure the benefits of technology are felt by everyone”.
They build on the £1bn joint government and private sector investment announced in April to “put the nation at the forefront of the global Ai industry”.
One of the four grand challenges is on AI and data, with a business champion and a skills champion working alongside ministers and responsible for engaging industry voices.
Hall, who led last year’s independent review on Ai, has been confirmed as Ai skills champion, with Goldstaub the Ai business champion.
Speaking in London on Tuesday, Hancock said: “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.”
“We want to harness the best possible AI leadership to help us seize this opportunity. 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.”
DeepMind develops general-purpose learning algorithms and uses them to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Hassabis is a five-time World Games Champion, recipient of the Royal Society’s Mullard Award, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2017 he featured in the Time 100 list of most influential people.
He said: “I’ve always believed that Ai could be one of the most important and widely beneficial breakthroughs of the 21st century…I’m very excited about the role the UK can play in making the case globally for Ai’s safe and ethical deployment.”
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. 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.”
The appointments follow Roger Taylor being confirmed as the chair of the new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, which will advise the government on how to enable and ensure ethical, safe and innovative uses of data, including for Ai.
“I’m passionate about the potential we have to unlock the power of AI to benefit everyone,” Goldstaub tweeted, “to champion rapid and responsible adoption”.
Industry figures welcomed the appointments. “They’re coders, practitioners, & deep level experts,” US Ai chief Pete Trainor tweeted. Not only can they articulate to the public, and politicians, but as an industry we can talk to them about convolutional, recurrent & recursive etc, and they get it.”