DeepMind co-founder leaves to join owner Google in new role

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Bloomberg—The co-founder of DeepMind, the high-profile artificial intelligence lab, is set to move to the U.S. to take up a role at parent company Google.

Mustafa Suleyman, who ran DeepMind’s “applied” division, was placed on leave in August after controversy over some of the projects he led. In a blog post Thursday, DeepMind said Suleyman is leaving for an unspecified role at Google.

The post, written by fellow co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Demis Hassabis, added that the company wanted to ensure it was the “best place in the world for fundamental breakthroughs in AI, and that we conduct this work thoughtfully and responsibly.”

Suleyman was a key public face for DeepMind, speaking to officials and at events about the promise of artificial intelligence and the ethical guardrails needed to limit malicious use of the technology.

DeepMind was heavily criticized for its work in the health sector of the United Kingdom. DeepMind Health’s first product was a mobile app called Streams, which was originally designed to help doctors identify patients at risk of developing acute kidney injury. In July 2017, the U.K.’s data privacy watchdog said DeepMind’s partner in the project, London’s Royal Free Hospital, illegally gave DeepMind access to 1.6 million patient records. Suleyman apologized in a statement at the time.

In a tweet in August, Suleyman said he was looking forward to returning to DeepMind. "There’s been some speculation over the last 24 hours about what I’m up to. After ten hectic years, I’m taking some personal time for a break to recharge and I’m looking forward to being back in the saddle at DeepMind soon," he wrote on Twitter on August 22.

Founded in 2010, DeepMind was bought by Google for 400 million pounds (currently $486 million) in 2014, an ambitious bet on the potential of AI that set off an expensive race in Silicon Valley for specialists in the field.

“Over the past year, we’ve also been formalizing a leadership team with the seasoned experience and skills for our second decade,” Hassabis said in the recent blog post.

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