DeepMind is the world’s largest and most prestigious company focused on artificial intelligence and really came into the public eye in 2016 when it beat one of the world’s top players in the game of Go, a Chinese game that is more than 4000 years old. That was a breakthrough in AI and came a decade earlier than many experts had predicted.
DeepMind’s been owned by Google since 2014 but was started by Demis Hassabis, who some have described as the brains behind DeepMind. In 2010 he, along with 2 friends, Shane Legg, and Mustafa Suleyman cofounded DeepMind in London, with the ambition to solve intelligence and then use that to solve everything else.
One thing to know about DeepMind is it uses something called reinforcement learning or RL, which is a type of dynamic programming that trains algorithms by using a system of reward and punishment. A reinforcement learning algorithm, also called an agent, learns by interacting with its environment. RL is considered by some to be the future of machine learning.
DeepMind is focused on finding the holy grail of AI which is artificial general intelligence or AGI. Demis Hassabis defines artificial general intelligence as a system capable of solving a whole spectrum of cognitive tasks on a level that is at least as good as humans are able to do.
So what is Google doing with DeepMind? At Google, DeepMind has continued research into artificial general intelligence while the DeepMind AI has been broadly integrated into Google products and services in areas of speech recognition, image recognition, fraud detection, identifying spam, handwriting recognition, translation and of course, local search.
Two notable areas where DeepMind has made an impressive impact is crazily enough the medical field and the world of video gaming.
In medicine, DeepMind has applied its abilities to protein folding with an accelerated understanding that has astounded eminent researchers. Protein folding is the process by which chains of protein building blocks fold over each other to form 3D structures. Many diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are thought to be caused by proteins misfolding and being able to predict the structure of proteins that cause these diseases could lead to more specific drugs to treat them.
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment to date has been that DeepMind has figured out how to beat humans, not only in the landmark win of the game Go, but more recently in 2019 it performed on a level equal to humans to win in a version of capture the flag. DeepMind also showed it was capable of teaming up with both artificial agents (which are the reinforcement learning algorithms I mentioned before), so it was able to team up with other AIs as well as human players to defeat its’ opponents. This is a significant achievement showing that DeepMind can strategically out-think humans. Others have deep concerns it may represent a first step in the Rise of the Machines.
So if artificial general intelligence is the holy grail, how will we know we’ve achieved it? If you ask Demis Hassabis, he says that big moment will be when an AI system comes up with a completely new scientific discovery that’s of Nobel prize winning level. Will it be DeepMind accepting the 2045 Nobel prize in Medicine or maybe Military?
From short and sweet AI, I’m Dr. Peper.