Google's DeepMind And Brain Teams Join Forces To Create An AI Powerhouse

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Google is merging its Google Brain and DeepMind divisions to double down on the race to AI dominance. Jeff Dean, head of Google's AI, has been named chief scientist as part of the changes.

The company announced the upcoming changes in a letter from DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis to employees yesterday and later shared via a blog post on Google's DeepMind website. Hassabis pointed out in the opening of the letter, that when he and Shane Legg launched DeepMind in 2010, many thought general AI was "a farfetched science fiction technology that was decades from being a reality."

Now, with AI advancing at an exponential pace, the technology is being viewed as one that will "drive one of the greatest social, economic and scientific transformations in history." With all that in mind, DeepMind and the Brain team will join forces to form one focused unit, called Google DeepMind.

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"Combining all this talent into one focused team, backed by the computational resources of Google, will significantly accelerate our progress in AI," Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai remarked in a separate blog post.

Pichai added that Hassabis and Dean are expected to work together in order to "set the future direction of our AI research and head up our most critical and strategic technical projects related to AI, the first of which will be a series of powerful, multimodal AI models."

Google acquired DeepMind in 2014 for an estimated $500 million. In recent years, the DeepMind division helped teach computers to speak like a human, master the game of Go, and assisted with nuclear fusion experiments.

Hassabis said that many of the research advances that laid the foundations of the current AI industry came from the "phenomenal" Brain and DeepMind teams. He believes that with the two resources being combined, Google DeepMind "will create the next wave of world-changing breakthroughs."

With Dean heading up the "most critical and strategic" technical projects related to AI, and Hassabis leading the development of "the most capable and responsible general AI systems," the company is certainly hoping to make its investment from 2014 a more lucrative one in the race for AI dominance.