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University of Oxford teams up with Google DeepMind on artificial intelligence


Members of the Department of Computer Science both past and present have launched a major collaboration with Google DeepMind, a London-based centre for artificial intelligence research. As part of the collaboration (which also involves three members of the Department of Engineering Science) the University will receive a significant seven-figure contribution from Google to be split between the two departments. 

Oxford Computer Science graduates Dr Edward Grefenstette and Dr Karl Moritz Hermann, together with Professors Phil Blunsom and Nando de Freitas, recently co-founded Dark Blue Labs. Their goal was to make natural languages (such as English, French, or Chinese) understandable by computers, allowing machines and humans to interact better and collaboratively solve problems. Google DeepMind have recruited the four co-founders to bring this expertise to their London research lab, along with DPhil students Misha Denil, Nal Kalchbrenner, and Ziyu Wang.

Dr Grefenstette and Dr Hermann will join Google DeepMind full-time, while Professors Blunsom and de Freitas will divide their time between DeepMind and their research at the University of Oxford. Professor Blunsom will remain on leave from his position as Computer Science Tutor at St Hugh’s College.

As part of the collaboration, Google DeepMind will be making a substantial donation to establish a research partnership with the Departments of Computer Science and Engineering Science at the University of Oxford, which will include a programme of student internships and a series of joint lectures and workshops to share knowledge and expertise.

Professor Mike Wooldridge, Head of the Department of Computer Science, said: ‘Machine Learning is a technology whose time has come. We have invested heavily in this area and we are truly excited at the prospect of what we can achieve together with Google. We are extremely proud of Phil, Nando, Ed, and Karl, and truly grateful for their efforts in securing such a fantastic donation to the department, and for paving the way for future collaboration with one of the world’s leading computing companies.’

Google DeepMind are also teaming up with three members of the Department of Engineering Science: Max Jaderberg, Dr Karen Simonyan and Professor Andrew Zisserman, one of the world’s foremost experts on computer vision.  They had co-founded Vision Factory, whose aim was to develop systems capable of unconstrained visual recognition of objects, actions, and text in real-world environments. 

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