Google's Demis Hassabis does most of his thinking between 1am and 4am

Demis HassabisYouTube/Singularity VideosDeepMind cofounder Demis Hassabis.

Demis Hassabis, the cofounder and head of Google AI unit DeepMind, is awake until the early morning thinking about how to progress his research and the company he cofounded, The Guardian reports.

Hassabis founded DeepMind with friends Mustafa Suleyman and Shane Legg in 2011 before selling it to Google for a reported £400 million in 2014. The London-based research intensive company builds general self-learning algorithms that can be applied to a range of scenarios and learn from their surroundings.

As a result, DeepMind’s technology is inherently complex and Hassabis, who also created “Theme Park” in his teenage years, is constantly thinking about how to apply DeepMind’s technology and where to take the company next.

Hassabis, a child chess prodigy and a Cambridge graduate by the age of 20, told The Guardian that he begins his “second day” around 11pm, adding that he has Skype calls (not Google Hangouts, interestingly) with the US until 1am. “Until three or four in the morning, that’s when I do my thinking: on research, on our next challenge, or I’ll write up an algorithmic design document,” he added.

Hassabis, who reportedly made £80 million himself from the Google deal, admits that he finds it hard to switch off. “I’ve never really had that work versus life thing; it’s all part of the same canvas,” he said. “I do love reading books, watching films, listening to music, but it tends to all come back to what I do.”

So far, DeepMind’s algorithms have figured out how to beat games such as Go, Space Invaders and Ping Pong but Hassabis is optimistic that the company’s algorithms will one day be able to help researchers studying important real-world problems like climate modelling or complex disease analysis.

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