Google

Co-founder Of Google’s AI Lab On Leave Amid Controversy

The co-founder of Google's artificial intelligence (AI) lab has been placed on leave due to issues with some of his projects.

Mustafa Suleyman, who runs DeepMind’s “applied” division and has been the public face of the lab, is “taking time out right now after 10 hectic years,” a DeepMind spokeswoman said, according to Fortune.

Suleyman founded DeepMind in 2010 with Chief Executive Officer Demis Hassabis. Four years later, Google bought it for £400 million ($486 million), and the lab started working on healthcare research, with Suleyman leading the development of its team.

While the spokeswoman didn’t say why Suleyman was put on leave, DeepMind has been criticized for its work in the U.K. health sector. Its first product was a mobile app called Streams that aimed to help doctors identify patients at risk of developing acute kidney injury. In July 2017, the U.K.’s data privacy watchdog accused the lab’s partner in the project, London’s Royal Free Hospital, of illegally giving DeepMind access to 1.6 million patient records.

Then, late last year, Google announced that the applied division’s team would join a new Google division called Google Health, although that move hasn’t been finalized. However, Suleyman was removed from the day-to-day running of the unit. He did not return multiple email requests for comment.

Earlier this month, it was reported that DeepMind is deeply in debt and owes its parent company around £1.04 billion pounds ($1.26 billion). The company’s losses also grew from £302.2 million ($367 million) to £470.2 million ($571 million) over the course of 2017. Even though DeepMind’s revenues have increased almost double from 2017, to £102.8 million ($125 million), the company has been weighed down by staff costs.

The money owed doesn’t mean that DeepMind isn’t actively working on new projects, however. It recently teamed up with Waymo to better train self-driving software in a way that mimics Darwinian evolution. Both companies are owned by Alphabet.

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