Demis Hassabis
Demis Hassabis, Co-founder and CEO of DeepMind

Credit: DeepMind

DeepMind CEO to give lecture on AI's potential for scientific discovery

Demis Hassabis, Co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, will deliver a major public lecture at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford at 6.30pm on Tuesday 17 May. 

The lecture, which will be hosted by Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics in AI, is part of The Obert C. Tanner Lectures on Artificial Intelligence and Human Values. The title for the lecture is ‘Using AI to Accelerate Scientific Discovery’.  

Dr Hassabis founded and leads DeepMind, the world’s leading AI research company and now an independent subsidiary of Alphabet. Founded in 2010, DeepMind has been at the forefront of the field ever since, producing landmark research breakthroughs.  

Professor John Tasioulas, Director of the Institute for Ethics in AI, said: ‘A core aim of the Institute for Ethics in AI is to bring together world-leading academics and the practitioners at the cutting edge of AI development. Demis Hassabis’ lecture will be a perfect example of that. We will hear his first-hand experience of AI’s enormous potential to accelerate scientific discovery, which will inform our research and thinking about the critical ethical considerations that must be considered by policymakers and technical developers of AI.’ 

The lecture is free to attend and open to all, but booking in advance is essential.

In a preview of the lecture, Dr Hassabis writes: ‘The past decade has seen incredible advances in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). DeepMind has been in the vanguard of many of these big breakthroughs, pioneering the development of self-learning systems like AlphaGo, the first program to beat the world champion at the complex game of Go. Games have proven to be a great training ground for developing and testing AI algorithms, but the aim at DeepMind has always been to build general learning systems ultimately capable of solving important problems in the real world.  

‘I believe we are on the cusp of an exciting new era in science with AI poised to be a powerful tool for accelerating scientific discovery itself. We recently demonstrated this potential with our AlphaFold system, a solution to the 50-year grand challenge of protein structure prediction, culminating in the release of the most accurate and complete picture of the human proteome.’

The Tanner Lectures were established by the American scholar, industrialist, and philanthropist, Obert Clark Tanner. In creating the lectureships, Professor Tanner said: ‘I hope these lectures will contribute to the intellectual and moral life of mankind. I see them simply as a search for a better understanding of human behaviour and human values. This understanding may be pursued for its own intrinsic worth, but it may also eventually have practical consequences for the quality of personal and social life.’

The Institute for Ethics in AI brings together world-leading philosophers and other experts in the humanities with the technical developers and users of AI in academia, business and government. It is part of the Philosophy Faculty and will be housed in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities at the University of Oxford. The Centre and Institute have been made possible by a £175 million gift to the University from Stephen A. Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-founder of Blackstone, one of the world's leading investment firms. 

This event is just the latest in the Institute’s exciting series. A month later, on 17 June, Professor Josiah Ober of Stanford University will give the Institute’s inaugural lecture. The full schedule can be found here

A recording of the lecture will be made available afterwards on More details will be posted on the Institute’s Twitter account @EthicsinAI nearer the time.