DeepMind loses year-long bid to win independence from Google

DeepMind AI

DeepMind and Google in tense situation



Tensions within Google and its AI brain trust DeepMind have always been exciting. The relationship can be termed crudely: DeepMind began in 2010, houses some of the world’s best AI researchers. They output a steady stream of excellent academic papers and front covers. Google bought DeepMind in 2014 and bankrolls its large losses. It really wanted to extract all the knowledge out of the brains to make money.

Parmy Olson reports about the negotiations:

Parmy Olson reports Google ends years-long negotiations between the two firms. Ultimately, it rejected the plea from DeepMind for more independence. According to Olson, DeepMind told staff the talks were over “late last month”. A suggestion from DeepMind’s founders was apparently for the company to have the same legal structure. 

There isn’t that the powerful AI should not be controlled by a single corporate entity. But Google did not agree with this. It told DeepMind it did not make sense how much money the company has poured into DeepMind. The conflict doesn’t come as a surprise. Google executives have repeatedly said that the company’s future lies in AI. This includes numerous news stories. They suggest that the mothership pressures DeepMind to commercialize the company. 

The DeepMind projects improvise various things:

This led to DeepMind projects using its research to improvise Android battery life. It also reduces energy costs in its data centers but the financial advantages of it are still unclear. Meanwhile, the UK firm continues to incur losses. It made a loss of 477 million pounds in recent public filings for 2019. Apart from financial tension, another contention within both companies is ethical oversight. In the plan of Google acquiring DeepMind, Google made a promise to set up an ethics board. This ethics board would ensure that the DeepMind technology will always be used fairly. The nature and the members of this board have always been unclear. 

2019 report from The Economist:

A 2019 report from The Economist says that the board holds ownership over artificial general Intelligence created by DeepMind. It is a term that refers to ai which meets or exceeds human capability around a huge range of tasks. 

The Wall Street Journal report does not mention anything about the status of this board. But Olson notes that DeepMind’s future work will be overseen by a separate ethics board. This board will have senior Google executives as members. 

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