Deep­mind in­de­pen­dence in doubt as Google staff switch

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Han­nah Boland

GOOGLE looks in­creas­ingly at risk of break­ing its pledge to keep Deep­mind in­de­pen­dent, as a Tele­graph in­ves­ti­ga­tion finds al­most a fifth of the ar­ti­fi­cial­in­tel­li­gence arm’s staff have been moved in from other di­vi­sions.

Lon­don-based Deep­mind is one of Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful tech­nol­ogy firms of the last decade. It owns an app called Streams that uses NHS pa­tient data to help doc­tors di­ag­nose and de­tect ill­nesses. How­ever, Google’s in­creas­ing in­volve­ment with the firm has raised ques­tions over pri­vacy.

Re­search by the Tele­graph found around 18pc of Deep­mind em­ploy­ees had worked within other Google busi­nesses, in­clud­ing in its driver­less car arm Waymo and its ar­ti­fi­cial-in­tel­li­gence re­search team Google Brain.

Ac­cord­ing to data from Linkedin, 95pc had moved di­rectly from one part of Google, and had held roles rang­ing from re­search en­gi­neers to strat­egy fo­cused posts. Only aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions pro­vided a larger pro­por­tion of staff. The Tele­graph un­der­stands the Deep­mind in­ter­view process is the same for all can­di­dates.

When Google bought Deep­mind in 2014, it put in place a num­ber of mech­a­nisms to keep the com­pany sep­a­rate, set­ting up an in­de­pen­dent ethics board and pre­vent­ing staff from en­ter­ing the Deep­mind lev­els of the Lon­don base.

A spokesman said: “Deep­mind is a sep­a­rate team that op­er­ates au­tonomously within the Al­pha­bet group but we col­lab­o­rate a lot with many groups at Google.”

Just over two weeks ago, it an­nounced Google was tak­ing con­trol of its health­care divi­sion, mov­ing it un­der the Google Health um­brella. Deep­mind has said pa­tient data would con­tinue to be kept strictly sep­a­rate.

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