Now if only the actors funding academia would take notice...

> Today, the goal is not just to create a powerful AI to play games better than a human professional, but to use that knowledge “for large-scale social impact” [...] The line might sound insincere if it came from an executive in Silicon Valley, where practically every start-up believes it is about to change the world. DeepMind, however, might actually be understating the sea-changes it is driving: its scientific advances are already employed in complex real-world scenarios that require pattern recognition, long-term planning and decision-making.

> AlphaGo-like algorithms are, for example, being used to study protein-folding to speed up new drug discoveries at the UK’s Crick Institute; to analyse medical images to allow sharper cancer diagnoses and treatment plans at London’s University College Hospital; and to save enormous amounts of energy in power-hungry data centres at Google. In the last of these, DeepMind’s experiment resulted in energy savings of 15 per cent — or 40 per cent of cooling energy — translating to millions of dollars. The company now hopes to expand its range of clients to the UK’s National Grid and other utilities providers.

> To solve seemingly intractable problems in healthcare, scientific research or energy, it is not enough just to assemble scores of scientists in a building; they have to be untethered from the mundanities of a regular job — funding, administration, short-term deadlines — and left to experiment freely and without fear. [...]

> “Our research team today is insulated from any short-term pushes or pulls, whether it be internally at Google or externally. We want to have a big impact on the world, but our research has to be protected,” Hassabis says. “We showed that you can make a lot of advances using this kind of culture. I think Google took notice of that and they’re shifting more towards this kind of longer-term research.”

> This organisational culture has been a magnet for some of the world’s brightest minds. Jane Wang, a cognitive neuroscientist at DeepMind, used to be a postdoctoral researcher at Northwestern University in Chicago, and says that she was attracted to DeepMind’s clear, social mission. “I have interviewed at other industry labs, but DeepMind is different in that there isn’t pressure to patent or come up with products — there is no issue with the bottom line. The mission here is about being curious,” she says.
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