A former child chess prodigy and computer game designer from London has sold his company to Google for around £300m in one of the Internet giant’s largest European acquisitions.
Demis Hassabis, a computer scientist, is understood to have struck the deal with Google for his secretive start-up business Deep Mind Technologies, which specialises in artificial intelligence (AI) for computers.
Hassabis, 37, has built the company by bringing together neuroscientists and computer engineers in an effort to use technology and medical research to help machines to mimic the brain’s ability to improve performance. He previously led a study at University College London in 2009 that scanned human brains and found “just by looking at neural activity we were able to say what someone was thinking”.
Google founder Larry Page, who has expressed interest in making search commands easier by having an implant in the brain, is understood to have led the move to buy Deep Mind. Google is exploring smart technology that will enable it to go into space travel and create self-driving cars.
The website The Information claimed that Google had beaten Facebook to the acquisition and had sealed the deal after agreeing to set up an ethics board to ensure that the AI technology was not abused.