Demis Hassabis is the boy-genius co-founder behind Google’s latest acquisition, DeepMind. Despite its large ~ $US500 million acquisition, not much has been written about Hassabis or DeepMind.
We did some digging on the web and Wikipedia. Here’s what we found about the startup’s brainiac founder.
Hassabis, 37, first became known as a child chess star. When he was 13, he had a sky-high Elo rating which made him the second-best player under age 14 in the world. An Elo rating is used to measure the skill-level of players in games like chess. Hassabis is also a great poker player.
When Hassabis was 17, he was an avid video game designer and creator. He co-programmed Theme Park, a game that would go on to sell millions of copies. Later, he got his PhD in cognitive neuroscience. He has also won the Mind Sports Olympiad five times.
He combined his love of both games and neuroscience and became fascinated with the ways computers could beat humans. He presented at an MIT event in 2011 and explained the history of computers beating humans in classic games such as poker and chess. He also discussed how AI was being worked into video games, whether it was used to make a character’s behaviour more life-like, or in the controller itself like in Microsoft’s Kinect.
“The Video games industry is a big business,” Hassabis told the audience. “Not as big as Google but it’s a global business worth more than $US10 billion per year in revenues. AI is found in nearly every triple-A top title.”
In late 2010, Hassabis co-founded DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company that helps computers think like humans, particularly when it comes to gaming and e-commerce scenarios. Google is acquiring his startup for an reported $US400 — 500 million. That makes DeepMind one of London’s largest startup exits, following Skype and Playfish in recent years.
You can watch Hassabis explain his thoughts on AI and gaming below, starting at the 59-minute mark.
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