DeepMind organises its artificial intelligence (AI) researchers into groups such as “strike teams” and “frontiers,” according to a report in The Financial Times (FT) by Madhumita Murgia.
The company, which is on a mission to “solve intelligence,” has hired some of the brightest minds in the world, including academics from Oxbridge and research scientists from firms like Facebook and Microsoft.
Exactly how DeepMind’s researchers work together has been something of a mystery but the FT story sheds new light on the matter.
Researchers at DeepMind are divided into four main groups, including a “neuroscience” group and a “frontiers” group, according to the report. The frontiers group is said to be full of physicists and mathematicians who are tasked with testing some of the most futuristic AI theories.
“We’ve hired 250 of the world’s best scientists, so obviously they’re here to let their creativity run riot, and we try and create an environment that’s perfect for that,” DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis told the FT.
Interestingly, many of DeepMind’s project managers are former games developers that used to work for Hassabis’ previous company, Elixir Studios, according to the report.
DeepMind’s army of researchers reportedly present their academic progress to Hassabis, Shane Legg (DeepMind’s head of research and one of the three cofounders) and other DeepMind team leaders every two months. The leaders then decide how best to allocate the company’s resources going forward.
“It’s sort of a bubbling cauldron of ideas, and exploration, and testing things out, and finding out what seems to be working and why — or why not,” Legg told the FT.
DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014 for £400 million, also has a number of “strike teams” that are set up for a limited time period to work on particular tasks. Hassabis explained that this is what DeepMind did with the AlphaGo team, who developed an algorithm that was able to learn how to play Chinese board game Go and defeat the best human player in the world, Lee Se-dol.
“Once it started showing promise in the first six months, we put a large team of 15 people with specialised skills on it, to push that to the end,” he said. “It allows us to pick exactly the right specialists to make the perfect complementary team without being beholden to traditional reporting lines. So, they’re like on secondment to that project, and then they go back to their original teams.”
DeepMind also has teams of people working on developing algorithms that can be applied to healthcare and energy scenarios. The company, for example, has signed deals with four NHS trusts across the UK and it is in preliminary talks with the National Grid.
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