DeepMind founder motivates children

11/15/2017 – DeepMind is a neuroscience-inspired AI company which develops general-purpose learning algorithms and uses them to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The company's groundbreaking work includes the development of AlphaGo. This Deep Learning program defeated Go world champion Lee Sedol in 2016 — a breakthrough experts proclaimed to have arrived a decade ahead of its time. Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, visited UCL Academy in Camden, UK, and took students on a journey through his career from chess prodigy to scientist and business leader and into the complex world of artificial intelligence.

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Inspiring insights into A.I.

Press release

London: Students from Camden, Hampstead and surrounding areas were this week captivated by a presentation from one of the world’s most influential business leaders.

Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder and CEO of DeepMind, took time out of his busy schedule to visit UCL Academy, Camden. Here he took students on a journey through his career from chess prodigy to scientist and business leader and into the complex world of artificial intelligence. DeepMind, a world leader in A.I., was co-founded by Hassabis in 2010. The company was acquired by Google in 2014.

Hassabis, hailed by Time Magazine as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people, talked to UCL Academy students, and those from five other local schools, about the innovative work that DeepMind is undertaking in a fast-evolving field. He encouraged them to develop their passions and gave advice on developing core skills that are relevant in today’s rapidly changing world.

The event was part of a wider partnership between DeepMind and Chess in Schools and Communities, a charity which has introduced chess into over 800 schools around the country and delivers the game as part of a school’s curriculum. Hassabis, who himself was a child chess prodigy, also explained how chess and games like Go can develop the mind whilst giving students important life skills that can help them in their careers.

A select group of UCL Academy’s GSCE and A-Level computer science students were lucky enough to then benefit from a more intimate networking session with Hassabis, impressing him with the in-depth nature of their questions. Among the topics of conversation were DeepMind’s mission to ‘solve intelligence’, its most recent AlphaGo Zero paper, the growth of computing power and which A-Levels were the right ones to consider for a career in A.I. Students also learned of DeepMind’s ethical principles and the importance of building A.I. that benefits everybody.

Demis Hassabis, a former child prodigy in chess, reached master standard at the age of 13, with a rating of 2300. At the time he was the second highest rated player in the world Under-14. He and Malcolm Pein (right), Chief Executive of Chess in Schools and Communities, finished the afternoon by undertaking a simultaneous chess display.

Demis played six games at once against students who, in a unique format...

... used the Fritz computer programme to help with their strategy.

The final score was of the simul was 3-3. After Demis left Malcolm Pein took over six good positions he had achieved from the opening. But the children started to get the hang of Fritz... and the games became tough. Malcolm won three lost one and was cruising in the other two.

Malcolm: "It should have been 4-2 until I very diplomatically and of course involuntarily, allowed the head teacher a mate in one!" Can you spot it in the above picture (Black to play)?

Yes, the headmaster, Robin Street, got it and scored a win against the IM.

Demis Hassabis, Co-Founder & CEO of DeepMind, commented:

Chess has been immensely formative for me in helping to develop important skills such as problem solving, planning, visualisation, performing under pressure and the transfer of learning from one domain to another. At DeepMind we highly value these meta-skills and they are fundamental in our approach to business and to research. Indeed my journey into A.I. started with chess, because it challenged me to think about how we think.

I am therefore very proud to support the concept of learning chess in schools, particularly the work of Chess in Schools and Communities. Furthermore, I would encourage children to explore widely, find their passion and focus on learning how to learn.

Robin Street, Co-Principal of UCL Academy, said:

The focus of our curriculum is one of connectivity, helping and challenging the students to understand the relevance and links of subjects to each other. This systemised approach to collaborative group learning promotes an ethos of inter-disciplinary thinking, allowing the students to develop an appetite for a broader perspective on their studies.

Coupled with this, we aim to offer our students the opportunity to encounter ‘excellence’. This event has presented a unique opportunity for our students to interact with one of the world’s leading thinkers. This aspiration of meeting people who have achieved things that are extraordinary will help set the bar higher than it might otherwise be.

Melanie Dennig, Head of Computer Science at UCL Academy, noted:

The students have gained an incredible insight into the future from a person who is in the process of creating it. Our future will be built with A.I. in mind so anything that provides us with a better idea of what that world will look like is hugely beneficial, especially to the next generation, who will be affected most. Meanwhile we have demonstrated that a human-element stays central in this development process and shown, through effective use of collaboration, that the skills the students are learning are meaningful in the wider context of their lives.

Malcolm Pein, Chief Executive of Chess in Schools and Communities, added:

Demis delivered an engaging overview of A.I. and a vision of how technology may shape the world over the coming decades. His grounding in chess makes him a wonderful advocate for our work. We are grateful to him for giving his valuable time and for the support of DeepMind in our project to deliver chess to more schools in Camden and Islington.

About Chess in Schools and Communities

Chess in Schools and Communities (CSC) is a UK charity whose mission is to improve children’s educational outcomes and social development by introducing them to the game of chess. Founded in 2009, CSC now teaches in over 300 schools and supports 500 more nationwide. CSC also organises a world-class tournament, the London Chess Classic, and Yes2Chess, an international tournament for schools. For more information visit: Chessinschools.co.uk.

About DeepMind

DeepMind is a neuroscience-inspired AI company which develops general-purpose learning algorithms and uses them to help tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since its founding in London in 2010, DeepMind has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, three of them in the scientific journal Nature – an unprecedented achievement for a computer science lab. DeepMind’s groundbreaking work includes the development of deep reinforcement learning, combining the domains of deep learning and reinforcement learning. This technique underpinned AlphaGo, a computer program that defeated Go world champion Lee Sedol in 2016 — a breakthrough experts proclaimed to have arrived a decade ahead of its time.

In 2014, DeepMind was acquired by Google, in their largest ever European acquisition, and is now part of the Alphabet group.