According to Google DeepMind’s Demis Hassabis, in order to find the theory of everything, we must first solve the question of intelligence. He spoke recently at Google’s Zeitgeist event.
Hassabis is the man behind DeepMind Technologies, a neuroscience-inspired artificial intelligence company which was recently acquired by Google.
Hassabis was a chess master at the age of 12 who graduated with a double first from Cambridge before founding the pioneering videogames company Elixir Studios, producing award-winning games for Microsoft and Universal.
His video games, which included the classic Theme Park, which he created at age 17 all featured an element of artificial intelligence, and he ascribes his ambition to unravel intelligence as a choice between, “the only two subjects really worth studying: physics and neuroscience.” Physics, he points out, is the study of the outside world and neuroscience is the study of the internal world of our minds.
“When I thought about this more, I came the conclusion that the mind was more important, because that is the way we actually interpret the external world out there,” says Hassabis. This philosophy echoes Emmanuel Kant’s phrase, “the mind interprets the world.”
After he sold his games company, Hassabis returned to school to obtain his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from University College London and then continued his neuroscience and artificial intelligence research for a period. He focused on imagination, memory and the function of the hippocampus, because “these are two of the capabilities that we don’t know how to do very well in AI.” He wanted to use the study of neuroscience to inspire work in artificial intelligence.
In 2010 he co-founded DeepMind, a company with a lofty goal of being an “Apollo program mission for AI.” The company how has over a hundred researchers working on neuroscience-inspired artificial general intelligence.
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