Google DeepMind has a new head of security

Wikimedia CommonsBen Laurie has worked at Google for over 10 years.

Google DeepMind has appointed Ben Laurie as its new head of security.

Laurie announced on his Twitter page on Thursday he has joined the artificial intelligence research company — bought by Google for a reported £400 million in 2014 — as head of security and transparency.

Laurie is the founding director of the Apache Software Foundation, a director at the Open Rights Group, and a veteran Google software engineer.

He describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as an: “Extremely proficient programmer (over 30 years experience) and system designer. Security, cryptography, privacy and civil liberties are my passions.”

The Cambridge University graduate wrote on Twitter that he is “excited” and “proud” to be taking on the new role.

Google DeepMind builds general purpose self-learning algorithms that have mastered Chinese board game Go and retro arcade game Space Invaders. 

The organisation, which employees over 250 people in King’s Cross, London, has recently teamed up with the NHS on a kidney monitoring app and a medical research project that could help to identify people that are about to go blind.

Privacy campaigners attacked Google DeepMind earlier this year after a data-sharing agreement revealed that it had access to a huge haul of NHS patient information.

It’s likely that Laurie has been hired to help Google DeepMind navigate these potentially controversial partnerships.

A source who works in the AI industry told Business Insider Laurie is a “big deal in the security crypto community,” adding that Google DeepMind made the hire “mostly for his integrity.” The source added: “My guess is they [Google DeepMind] hired him for signalling rather than conviction.”

Google DeepMind did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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