CEO of Google DeepMind Says AI Industry Full of Hype and Grifters

“It clouds the science and the research.”

Swiper, No Swiping

Talk about the call coming from inside the house!

In an interview with The Financial Times, Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassibis likened the frothiness shrouding the AI gold rush to that of the crypto industry’s high-dollar funding race, saying that the many billions being funneled into AI companies and projects brings a “bunch of hype and maybe some grifting and some other things that you see in other hyped-up areas, crypto or whatever.”

“Some of that has now spilled over into AI,” the CEO added, “which I think is a bit unfortunate.”

Hassibis also argued that in addition to creating ideal grifter conditions, the hype around AI may be distracting from the real innovations happening throughout the industry.

“It clouds the science and the research, which is phenomenal,” Hassibis told the FT. “In a way, AI’s not hyped enough,” he added, “but in some senses it’s too hyped.”

Overeager

Given the financial devastation wrought by heavy-handed crypto funding and the industry’s subsequent crash, it’s fascinating to see one of the AI world’s biggest executives make the comparison. But according to other experts, an AI bubble could indeed be looming. And as that bubble swells, it seems that Hassibis is positioning himself as one of the adults in a Hype Bro-packed room.

The CEO’s grifter analysis is likely informed by DeepMind’s already significant legacy in the AI realm. Founded in 2010, DeepMind sent major waves through the AI industry in 2016 with the success of AlphaGo, making history once again in 2021 when it unveiled AlphaFold — a game-changing AI that solved the longtime biochemical mystery known as the protein-folding problem. Google acquired the London-based company in April 2023.

To Hassibis’ point, although text and image-creating generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are certainly dominating the public conversation, AI is a diverse field. While many startups are essentially just infusing an OpenAI API into a half-baked product and calling it a company, others are doing incredibly cool things, like using machine learning to help quadriplegic patients move their arms again or aid in scientific and medical discovery.

But the spaghetti-at-the-wall style with which cash is being poured into startups without clear monetization paths certainly opens the door to scams and crashes — and it would be a shame to see real innovation suffer because of overeager venture capitalists.

“I think we’re only scratching the surface,” Hassibis told the FT of AI’s scientific potential, “of what I believe is going to be possible over the next decade-plus.”

More on AI hype: Experts Concerned by Signs of AI Bubble

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