A.I. gurus are leaving Big Tech to work on buzzy new start-ups
DeepMind cofounder Mustafa Suleyman was recently promoted to VP AI product management at Google. He also founded the machine-learning startup Inflection AI. Suleyman is currently working with several of his ex-colleagues.
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Top jobs in companies such as Google and Amazon are being left by artificial intelligence specialists. Google, MetaPeople familiar with the subject and LinkedIn analysis say that DeepMind, OpenAI, and DeepMind are all part of a new breed.
Four of the best-funded new AI start-ups — Inflection, Cohere, Adept and Anthropic — have recently poached dozens of AI scientists with backgrounds in Big Tech.
Venture capital firms are helping to fuel their efforts and billionaires want to take advantage of any successes. Together, they have raised $1Billion and are using their vast war chests of money to recruit talented employees who earn high salaries at previous employers.
Start-ups build their products and services using a new architecture, which refers to a collection of rules and methods used for describing the organization, functionality and implementation of computer systems.
The new architecture — developed by a team of Google staff in 2017 and now available for anyone to use — is known as a “transformer.”
This transformer makes it possible for AI systems to scale in new ways, making them more capable and powerful than ever before.
Aidan Gomez, Cohere CEO said that “when you started scaling these models up, the capabilities just grew to a degree that I don’t think anyone predicted.” It was almost a shock.
OpenAI’s GPT-3, Google’s Bert and DeepMind’s AlphaFold, AlphaStar, and Google’s Bert are just a few examples of groundbreaking AI systems that have been underpinned by a transformer.
Inflection AI was launched in March. raised over $225 millionLinkedIn says that the company has fewer than 10 employees.
The company is based in California and aims to create AI software products which make communication with computers easier.
DeepMind founder Mustafa Suleyman is the co-founder. He recently resigned as VP of AI Product Management and AI Policy at Google. The other co-founders are Reid Hoffman (a LinkedIn billionaire) and Karen Simonyan (an ex DeepMind researcher).
Suleyman is currently working with several former colleagues.
According to Heinrich Kuttler’s LinkedIn profile, Heinrich Kuttler, a former DeepMinder, left in March his role as research engineer manager at Meta AI, London, to join the Inflection founding team. He is currently working on technical aspects of Inflection. Joe Fenton, a former DeepMinder, also left in February his role as senior product manager at Google to join the Inflection founding team. He will be working on product aspects.
Rewon Child is a former Google Brain research engineer and OpenAI researcher who joined Inflection in the role of technical support. Inflection hired Maarten Borsma (previously a Google researcher).
CNBC did not reach out to Meta or Google with a request for comment.
Greylock Partners, an acclaimed venture capitalist firm in Silicon Valley and one of Inflection’s top investors, is one of Inflections most prominent investors. They made early bets with the likes Airbnb (now Meta), Facebook (now Meta). Hoffman and Suleyman serve as partners in the company.
Suleyman stated that during a March call to CNBC, he said, “If you look at the history computing, we’ve always tried to reduce the complexity and communicate our ideas to a computer.”
“Even when you write a query for search, we are simplifying, reducing, or writing in shorthand to make the search engine understand what we want.”
A programming language is required to allow humans to program a computer. Or, to use a mouse and navigate the screen, they must be able to code. Suleyman stated that all of these methods simplify and decrease the complexity of our ideas, as well as their creativity and uniqueness to enable a computer to perform a task.
Inflection’s new technology suite, which the British entrepreneur claims will allow anyone to communicate with a computer using plain language, is what Inflection claimed. Inflection’s plans for selling its products are not yet clear. It is unclear who they will sell their products to and at what prices.
Inflection will be competing with Cohere for talent, which was started in Toronto in 2019 and founded by Aidan Gomez Ivan Zhang, Nick Frosst, and Nick Frosst.
Cohere has received $170 million in funding from Index Ventures, Tiger Global and other investors. It wants to build an interface to allow software developers to access complex AI technology for their applications.
The AI technology known as NLP (natural language processing) should enable developers to integrate new features and services in their software products.
CNBC’s CEO Gomez stated that they want to create a toolkit accessible to all developers.
AI experts and DeepMind alumni Phil Blunsom and Ed Grefenstette are the latest AI scientists joining Cohere. The duo announced their participation last month.
Cohere’s machine-learning head is Grefenstette, and Blunsom the chief scientist.
Their responsibilities include helping set up the Cohere London office. London is a popular destination for AI talent in recent years. DeepMind employs more than a thousand employees in London, most of whom are PhDs.
It is likely that they’ll be able find promising recruits at two top universities in the U.K. Blunsom at Oxford is Blunsom at UCL. Grefenstette at UCL is an honorary Professor.
Anthropic is another company that is making waves. It is headed by Dario Amodei, OpenAI’s former vice president of research.
Anthropic refers to itself as an AI safety- and research organization. The company claims it is a safety and research firm that aims to develop “reliable, understandable, and steerable” AI system.
Amodei founded the company with assistance from Jack Clark, Tom Brown and Sam McCandlish, ex-OpenAI employees.
The company launched in 2021, and it announced that $124 million had been secured from an investor group including Jaan Tallinn (a co-founder of Skype) and Eric Schmidt, former CEO at Google.
The company raised $580 million more in April. LinkedIn reports that it has now hired 41 employees.
Adept AI Labs is another AI startup that has been created by prominent figures in machine learning.
Niki Parmar (previously a research scientist at Google Brain), Ashish Vaswani and David Luan are among the co-founders.
This San Francisco-based startup, just months old, has raised $65 Million. Its mission is to create general intelligence which allows humans to collaborate creatively.
The company hopes to develop an AI assistant which workers can use to collaborate on solving almost any problem. While this tool will initially be productivity-focused, the firm hopes that everyone will be able to use its AI technology in the medium term.