DeepMind and co-founder Mustafa Suleyman have decided to go their separate ways. Earlier this year there were disputed reports the two were arguing, some even suggested he’d been placed on leave. But now it seems he’s actually left the UK-based enterprise. And for its sister. Ouch.
After a wonderful decade at DeepMind, I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be joining @Kent_Walker, @JeffDean and the fantastic team at Google to work on opportunities & impacts of applied AI technologies. Can't wait to get going! More in Jan as I start the new job!
— Mustafa Suleyman (@mustafasuleymn) December 5, 2019
That sister is Google, DeepMind’s sister company under the Alphabet umbrella. Alphabet’s already had its share of shake-up this week after founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped aside so Google CEO Sundar Pichai could take over as CEO of both companies.
Now, reports The Verge’s James Vincent, Suleyman’s joining Jeff Dean at Google AI to work on policy. This sounds like a good thing because Google’s current AI policy isn’t fit to be considered a rough draft.
There’s been plenty of turbulence at Alphabet as of late, but investors are pleased and sometimes that’s all that matters. At this point there’s no reason to take this as anything other than good news – at least for the time being.
But, it’s at least worth considering that Suleyman’s bread and butter at DeepMind was a healthcare project and there’s been some dubious goings-on between Alphabet, DeepMind, and Google when it comes to private healthcare data. After DeepMind promised it would keep its healthcare programs – and patient data – independent from Google, it then allowed Google to take over the Streams program. Experts argued this broke DeepMind’s promise:
This is TOTALLY unacceptable. DeepMind repeatedly, unconditionally promised to *never* connect people's intimate, identifiable health data to Google. Now it's announced…exactly that. This isn't transparency, it's trust demolition https://t.co/EWM7lxKSET (grabs: Powles & Hodson) pic.twitter.com/3BLQvH3dg1
— Julia Powles (@juliapowles) November 13, 2018
But, on the other hand, Google AI’s been making big moves in the healthcare sector so there’s plenty of opportunity for him to use his powers for good at the Mountain View company.
It looks like a win for everyone but DeepMind – but, if you gaze into a crystal ball you might see a future where DeepMind, Waymo, and all the other companies that you and your friends probably refer to as “Google companies” or “companies that Google bought” no longer exist. After all, does Alphabet really serve any point in 2020?
My vote: Just make the whole thing “Google AI.” That’s the truth.