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Microsoft Hires DeepMind Co-Founder to Run Consumer A.I.

TechMicrosoft Hires DeepMind Co-Founder to Run Consumer A.I.

Mustafa Suleyman, a co-founder of Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence lab, is leaving the start-up he was running to lead Microsoft’s consumer A.I. business, in another sign of Microsoft’s aggressive plans for the technology.

Mr. Suleyman will report directly to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, the company said on Tuesday.

Mr. Suleyman, whose start-up, Inflection AI, raised $1.5 billion in funding, will be responsible for expanding a consumer A.I. business, including Microsoft’s Copilot chatbot, Bing search engine and Edge internet browser.

One of his Inflection AI co-founders, Karén Simonyan, a leading researcher who came from DeepMind as well, will also join Microsoft, as will much of their team.

“I am excited for them to contribute their knowledge, talent and expertise to our consumer A.I. research and product making,” Mr. Nadella said in an email to staff. He added, “We have been operating with speed and intensity, and this infusion of new talent will enable us to accelerate our pace yet again.”

Mr. Suleyman co-founded DeepMind, an ambitious and seminal A.I. lab in London, in 2010. After it made a breakthrough with A.I that could play complex games, DeepMind was acquired by Google in 2014.

Mr. Suleyman left Google in 2022 and co-founded Inflection AI, a start-up looking to build a personal A.I. assistant. In May, it introduced its consumer assistant, Pi, which was praised for its friendly, supportive nature but gained just a million daily users, far fewer than OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot.

With much of Inflection AI’s staff now leaving for Microsoft, the company said it was changing its approach. Though it is not shutting Pi down, it will no longer focus on building a consumer business. Instead, it will work with commercial customers to create, test and tune A.I. systems. Microsoft is also licensing Inflection AI’s latest underlying technology to make it available to business customers of its cloud computing products.

Inflection AI announced that it had hired Sean White, who previously worked at Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox web browser, to take over as chief executive.

(The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft in December for copyright infringement of news content related to A.I. systems.)

As one of the founders of DeepMind, Mr. Suleyman helped popularize the idea that artificial intelligence technology could one day destroy humanity. But he has also shown concern for more concrete and immediate dangers associated with the technology, including the spread of disinformation and job losses.

In his recent book, “The Coming Wave,” he argued that if these and other dangers could be overcome, the technology would be enormously transformative, especially as a means for drug discovery and other forms of health care.

DeepMind and Inflection AI did not call for the open sourcing of the most powerful A.I. technologies, an approach where companies share the raw code behind new systems in an effort increase their popularity and allow outside engineers to address their shortcomings. But Mr. Suleyman has argued that A.I. technologies should not ultimately be controlled by any one company.

Whether to open source A.I. technology has become a debate point among tech companies. Some, like Meta and Elon Musk’s company xAI, argue that open sourcing is the best way to ensure safe technology. But OpenAI, Microsoft’s close partner, has maintained secrecy around the code for its newest technology.

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