Demis Hassabis at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2018
|Born||27 July 1976|
|Education||Christ's College, Finchley|
|Thesis||Neural processes underpinning episodic memory (2009)|
|Doctoral advisor||Eleanor Maguire|
Demis Hassabis CBE FRS FREng FRSA (born 27 July 1976) is a British artificial intelligence researcher, neuroscientist, video game designer, entrepreneur, and world-class games player.
Early life and education
Hassabis was born to a Greek Cypriot father and a Chinese Singaporean mother and grew up in North London. A child prodigy in chess, Hassabis reached master standard at the age of 13 with an Elo rating of 2300 and captained many of the England junior chess teams. He represented the University of Cambridge in the Oxford-Cambridge varsity chess matches of 1995, 1996 and 1997, winning a half blue.
Hassabis was educated at Christ's College, Finchley, a state-funded comprehensive school in East Finchley, North London. He completed his GCE Advanced Level and Scholarship Level exams early at the age of 15 and 16.
Hassabis began his computer games career at Bullfrog Productions, first level designing on Syndicate and then at 17 co-designing and lead programming on the 1994 game Theme Park, with the games designer Peter Molyneux. Theme Park, a simulation video game, sold several million copies and won a Golden Joystick Award, and inspired a whole genre of management sim games.
University of Cambridge
Career after graduation
After graduating from Cambridge, Hassabis worked at Lionhead Studios. Renowned games designer Peter Molyneux, with whom Hassabis had worked at Bullfrog Productions, had recently founded the company. At Lionhead, Hassabis worked as lead AI programmer on the 2001 "god" game Black & White.
Hassabis left Lionhead in 1998 to found Elixir Studios, a London-based independent games developer, signing publishing deals with Eidos Interactive, Vivendi Universal and Microsoft. In addition to managing the company, Hassabis served as executive designer of the BAFTA-nominated games Republic: The Revolution and Evil Genius.
The release of Elixir's first game, Republic: The Revolution, a highly ambitious and unusual political simulation game, was delayed due to its huge scope. The final game was reduced from its original vision and greeted with lukewarm reviews, receiving a Metacritic score of 62/100. Evil Genius, a tongue-in-cheek Bond villain simulator, fared much better with a score of 75/100. In April 2005 the intellectual property and technology rights were sold to various publishers and the studio was closed.
University College London and neuroscience
Following Elixir Studios, Hassabis returned to academia to obtain his PhD in cognitive neuroscience from University College London (UCL) in 2009 supervised by Eleanor Maguire. He sought to find inspiration in the human brain for new AI algorithms.
He continued his neuroscience and artificial intelligence research as a visiting scientist jointly at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, before earning a Henry Wellcome postdoctoral research fellowship to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation Computational Neuroscience Unit, UCL in 2009.
Working in the field of autobiographical memory and amnesia, he co-authored several influential papers published in Nature, Science, Neuron and PNAS. One of his most highly cited papers, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, showed systematically for the first time that patients with damage to their hippocampus, known to cause amnesia, were also unable to imagine themselves in new experiences. The finding established a link between the constructive process of imagination and the reconstructive process of episodic memory recall. Based on this work and a follow-up Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, Hassabis developed a new theoretical account of the episodic memory system identifying scene construction, the generation and online maintenance of a complex and coherent scene, as a key process underlying both memory recall and imagination. This work received widespread coverage in the mainstream media and was listed in the top 10 scientific breakthroughs of the year in any field by the journal Science.
In 2010, Hassabis co-founded DeepMind, a London-based machine learning AI startup, with Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleyman. Hassabis and Suleyman had been friends since childhood, and he met Legg when both were postdocs at University College London's Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit. Hassabis also recruited his university friend and Elixir partner David Silver.
DeepMind's mission is to "solve intelligence" and then use intelligence "to solve everything else". More concretely, DeepMind aims to meld insights from neuroscience and machine learning with new developments in computing hardware to unlock increasingly powerful general-purpose learning algorithms that will work towards the creation of an artificial general intelligence (AGI). The company has focused on training learning algorithms to master games, and in December 2013 it famously announced that it had made a pioneering breakthrough by training an algorithm called a Deep Q-Network (DQN) to play Atari games at a superhuman level by only using the raw pixels on the screen as inputs.
DeepMind's early investors included several high-profile tech entrepreneurs. In 2014, Google purchased DeepMind for £400 million, although it has remained an independent entity based in London.
Since the Google acquisition, the company has notched up a number of significant achievements, perhaps the most notable being the creation of AlphaGo, a program that defeated world champion Lee Sedol at the complex game of Go. Go had been considered a holy grail of AI, for its high number of possible board positions and resistance to existing programming techniques. However, AlphaGo beat European champion Fan Hui 5-0 in October 2015 before winning 4-1 against former world champion Lee Sedol in March 2016. Additional DeepMind accomplishments include creating a Neural Turing machine, advancing research on AI safety, and the creation of a partnership with the National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom and Moorfields Eye Hospital to improve medical service and identify the onset of degenerative eye conditions.
More recently, DeepMind turned its artificial intelligence to protein-folding, one of the toughest problems in science. In December 2018, DeepMind's tool AlphaFold won the 13th Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein Structure Prediction (CASP) by successfully predicting the most accurate structure for 25 out of 43 proteins. “This is a lighthouse project, our first major investment in terms of people and resources into a fundamental, very important, real-world scientific problem,” Hassabis said to the Guardian. This demonstration to the power of AI, specifically DeepMind's application, bodes well to understanding the causes and cures to diseases and serves as a component to potential Noble-prize worth breakthroughs in the next decade.
DeepMind has also been responsible for technical advancements in machine learning, having produced a number of award-winning papers. In particular, the company has made significant advances in deep learning and reinforcement learning, and pioneered the field of deep reinforcement learning which combines these two methods. Hassabis has predicted that Artificial Intelligence will be "one of the most beneficial technologies of mankind ever" but that significant ethical issues remain.
Awards and honours
Entrepreneurial and scientific
- Science Magazine Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2007 (for neuroscience research on imagination)
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) 2009
- Henry Wellcome postdoctoral research fellowship (2010)
- Fellow Benefactor, Queens' College, Cambridge
- Mullard Award of the Royal Society (2014)
- Third most influential Londoner in 2014 according to the London Evening Standard (2014)
- Listed on Wired’s ‘Smart 50’ (2015)
- Financial Times top 50 Entrepreneurs in Europe (2015)
- Financial Times Digital Entrepreneur of the Year (2016)
- Honorary Fellow, University College London
- London Evening Standard list of influential Londoners, number 6 (2016)
- Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal (2016)
- WIRED Leadership in Innovation (2016)
- Nature’s "ten people who mattered this year" (2016)
- Science Magazine Top 10 Scientific Breakthroughs of 2016 (for AlphaGo)
- Time 100: The 100 Most Influential People (2017)
- The Asian Awards: Outstanding Achievement in Science and Technology (2017)
- Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (2017)
- Academy of Achievement: Golden Plate Award (2017)
- Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 New Year Honours for “services to Science and Technology”.
- Awarded Honorary degree by Imperial College London in May 2018
- Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in May 2018
- Cambridge Computer Laboratory Company of the Year (2014)
- Two Nature front cover articles (2015 and 2016)
- Honorary 9-dan Go rank for AlphaGo from Korean Baduk Association (2016)
- Cannes Lion Grand Prix for AlphaGo (2016)
- WIRED Innovation in AI Award (2016)
- City AM Innovative Company of the Year (2016)
Hassabis is an expert player of many games including:
- Chess: achieved Master standard at age 13 with ELO rating of 2300 (at the time the second-highest in the world for his age).
- Diplomacy: World Team Champion in 2004, 4th in 2006 World Championship, 3rd in 2004 European Championship.
- Poker: cashed at the World Series of Poker six times including in the Main Event.
- multi-games events at the London Mind Sports Olympiad: World Pentamind Champion (a record five times: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003) and World Decamentathlon Champion (twice: 2003, 2004).
- Demis Hassabis on IMDb
- Castelvecchi, Davide; Gibney, Elizabeth; Cressey, Daniel; Tollefson, Jeff; Butler, Declan; Van Noorden, Richard; Reardon, Sara; Ledford, Heidi; Witze, Alexandra (2016). "Nature's 10". Nature. 540 (7634): 507–515. doi:10.1038/540507a. ISSN 0028-0836.
- "Acclaimed Neuroscientist and Google DeepMind founder wins Royal Society Mullard Award", The Royal Society, 21 November 2014
- Demis Hassabis publications indexed by Google Scholar
- Hassabis, Demis (2009). Neural processes underpinning episodic memory. discovery.ucl.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University College London. OCLC 926193578. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.564607.
- "Demis Hassabis". royalsociety.org.
- Gardner, Jasmine (31 January 2014). "Exclusive interview: meet Demis Hassabis, London's megamind who just sold his company to Google for £400m". London Evening Standard.
- Demis Hassabis rating card at FIDE
- "Demis Hassabis: the secretive computer boffin with the £400 million brain". The Daily Telegraph. 2014-01-28.
- Silver, David; Huang, Aja; Maddison, Chris J.; Guez, Arthur; Sifre, Laurent; Driessche, George van den; Schrittwieser, Julian; Antonoglou, Ioannis; Panneershelvam, Veda; Lanctot, Marc; Dieleman, Sander; Grewe, Dominik; Nham, John; Kalchbrenner, Nal; Sutskever, Ilya; Lillicrap, Timothy; Leach, Madeleine; Kavukcuoglu, Koray; Graepel, Thore; Hassabis, Demis (28 January 2016). "Mastering the game of Go with deep neural networks and tree search". Nature. 529 (7587): 484–489. Bibcode:2016Natur.529..484S. doi:10.1038/nature16961. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 26819042. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
- Mnih, Volodymyr; Kavukcuoglu, Koray; Silver, David; Rusu, Andrei A.; Veness, Joel; Bellemare, Marc G.; Graves, Alex; Riedmiller, Martin; Fidjeland, Andreas K.; Ostrovski, Georg; Petersen, Stig; Beattie, Charles; Sadik, Amir; Antonoglou, Ioannis; King, Helen; Kumaran, Dharshan; Wierstra, Daan; Legg, Shane; Hassabis, Demis (2015). "Human-level control through deep reinforcement learning". Nature. 518 (7540): 529–533. Bibcode:2015Natur.518..529M. doi:10.1038/nature14236. ISSN 0028-0836.
- "Demis Hassabis on Desert Island Discs". bbc.co.uk. BBC.
- Ahmed, Murad (2015-01-30). "Lunch with the FT: Demis Hassabis". ft.com. Financial Times.
- Gibbs, Samuel (2014). "Demis Hassabis: 15 facts about the DeepMind Technologies founder". theguardian.com. The Guardian.
- 1995 Varsity Chess Match, Oxford v Cambridge - http://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/pgn/199503vars-viewer.html - BritBase
- 1996 Varsity Chess Match, Oxford v Cambridge - http://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/pgn/199603vars-viewer.html - BritBase
- 1997 Varsity Chess Match, Oxford v Cambridge - http://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/pgn/199703vars-viewer.html - BritBase
- Hassabis, Demis (2014), "Demis Hassabis Personal Website", demishassabis.com
- Hermida, Alfred (3 September 2003), "Game plays politics with your PC", BBC, retrieved 29 April 2011
- "Republic: The Revolution". Metacritic. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
- "Evil Genius". Metacritic. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
- Remo, Chris (July 14, 2009), "Rebellion Acquires Vivendi Licenses, Considers New Franchise Titles", Gamasutra
- "Elixir Studios", IGN
- Brooks R, Hassabis D, Bray D, Shashua A. (2012). "Turing centenary: Is the brain a good model for machine intelligence?" (PDF). Nature. 482 (7386): 462–463. Bibcode:2012Natur.482..462.. doi:10.1038/482462a. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 22358812.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Shead, Sam (2017-05-21). "The incredible life of DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis, the computer whiz who sold his AI lab to Google for £400 million". businessinsider.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22.
- Hassabis, D.; Kumaran, D.; Vann, S. D.; Maguire, E. A. (2007). "Patients with hippocampal amnesia cannot imagine new experiences" (PDF). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 104 (5): 1726–31. Bibcode:2007PNAS..104.1726H. doi:10.1073/pnas.0610561104. PMC 1773058. PMID 17229836.
- Hassabis, D.; Kumaran, D.; Maguire, E. A. (2007). "Using Imagination to Understand the Neural Basis of Episodic Memory". Journal of Neuroscience. 27 (52): 14365–14374. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4549-07.2007. PMC 2571957. PMID 18160644.
- Hassabis, D.; Maguire, E. A. (2007). "Deconstructing episodic memory with construction". Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 11 (7): 299–306. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2007.05.001. PMID 17548229.
- "Amnesiacs May Be Cut Off From Past and Future Alike", The New York Times, 23 January 2007
- The News Staff (2007). "BREAKTHROUGH OF THE YEAR: The Runners-Up". Science. 318 (5858): 1844a–. doi:10.1126/science.318.5858.1844a.
- Anon (2017). "Demis HASSABIS". companieshouse.gov.uk. London: Companies House.
- "Google DeepMind". www.deepmind.com. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
- Rowan, David (22 June 2015), "DeepMind: Inside Google's Super Brain", Wired
- Metz, Cade (19 May 2016), "What the AI Behind AlphaGo Can Teach Us About Being Human", Wired
- Simonite, Tom (31 March 2016), "How Google Plans to Solve Artificial Intelligence", MIT Technology Review
- Simonite, Tom (25 February 2015), "Google's AI Masters Space Invaders But Still Sucks at Pacman", MIT Technology Review
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- "Google to Buy Artificial Intelligence Company DeepMind", Reuters, 26 January 2015
- Koch, Christof (19 March 2016). "How the Computer Beat the Go Master". Scientific American.
- Hassabis, Demis (21 April 2017). "The mind in the machine: Demis Hassabis on artificial intelligence". Financial Times.
- Metz, Cade (27 January 2016), "In a Huge Breakthrough, Google's AI Beats a Top Player at the Game of Go", wired.com
- Yan, Sophia (12 March 2016), "A Google Computer Victorious Over the World's Go Champion", CNN Money
- "Google's Secretive DeepMind Startup Unveils a Neural Turing Machine", MIT Technology Review, 29 October 2014
- "Google Developing Kill Switch for AI", BBC, 8 June 2016
- Cuthbertson, Anthony (8 June 2016), "Google's Big Red Button Could Save the World", Newsweek
- Hern, Alex (5 July 2016), "Google DeepMind pairs with NHS to use machine learning to fight blindness", The Guardian
- Sample, Ian (2018-12-02). "Google's DeepMind predicts 3D shapes of proteins". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- "DeepMind's AI will accelerate drug discovery by predicting how proteins fold". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- "Google DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis: Three truths about AI". TechRepublic. Retrieved 2018-12-03.
- Silver, David (17 June 2016), "Deep Reinforcement Learning", DeepMind Blog
- "Whether AI will be good or bad, depends on how society uses it: Demis Hassabis, CEO, DeepMind". The Economic Times. 2018-03-10. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
- the news staff (21 December 2007), "The Runners-Up", Science
- Anon (2015), "Artificial Intelligence and the Future with Demis Hassabis", rts.org.uk, Royal Television Society
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- "Queens College Philanthropic News", Queens College
- "Leading the way: Top 20 Londoners in The 1000 power list", The Evening Standard, 16 October 2014
- Redman, Craig (9 December 2013), "The Wired Smart List 2013", Wired
- "Europe's Top 50 Tech Entrepreneurs", Financial Times, 19 June 2015
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- Manthorpe, Rowland (9 November 2016), "DeepMind and OpenBionics among the winners at the WIRED Audi Innovation Awards", WIRED
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- "Asian Awards". 2017. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
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- "Academy of Achievement". 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
- "Demis HASSABIS, Order of the British Empire". thegazette.co.uk. The London Gazette.
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- ""Use good judgment" President Alice Gast urges graduates". 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
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- HendonMob Poker database
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