Professor Michael Wooldridge, the head of computer science at Oxford University, warned a group of MPs on Tuesday that Brexit could be an issue for DeepMind.
The British artificial intelligence (AI) lab — acquired by Google for £400 million in 2014 — has many highly skilled workers that come from overseas, he said, adding that there aren’t enough PhDs with the right skills in the UK.
“If you walk around the DeepMind offices basically everyone you meet has a PhD either in computer science or a mathematical subject,” Wooldridge told the Artificial Intelligence Committee at the Houses of Parliament.
“Brexit is an issue. There’s not that many British accents in DeepMind. Believe me, Berlin and Paris would love to have DeepMind based there and would give them all sorts of breaks.”
DeepMind employs over 500 people across offices in London, Mountain View (California, US), Montreal (Canada), and Edmonton (Canada). The research-intensive company wants to “solve intelligence” and use it to make the world a better place. The tech firm is widely regarded as one of the most successful technology companies to come out of the UK in the last decade.
The Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence was appointed on June 29 to consider the economic, ethical, and social implications of advances in AI, and to make recommendations.
The MPs invited Wooldridge, Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, and Dame Wendy Hall to give evidence on how the UK can benefit from AI and what government can do to ensure the nation takes full advantage of its potential, while also mitigating some of the risks.
There are serious concerns among business leaders and politicians that Brexit will make it harder for UK companies to hire talent from across the EU.
DeepMind did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.