Mustafa Suleyman

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Mustafa Suleyman

Mustafa Suleyman (29099346447).jpg
Mustafa in 2018
NationalityUnited Kingdom
EducationMansfield College, Oxford (dropped out)
Known forArtificial Intelligence

Mustafa Suleyman CBE (born August 1984) is a British entrepreneur, activist and, most notably, a co-founder and former head of applied AI at DeepMind,[1] an artificial intelligence company acquired by Google and now owned by Alphabet.[2]

Early life[edit]

Suleyman's father is a Syrian-born taxi driver and his mother is an English nurse.[3]

He grew up off Caledonian Road in the London Borough of Islington, where he lived with his parents and his two younger brothers.[4]

Suleyman went to Thornhill Primary School (a state school in Islington) followed by Queen Elizabeth's School, a boys' grammar school in Barnet.[4] Around that time, he met his DeepMind co-founder, Demis Hassabis, through his best friend, Demis's younger brother. Suleyman said that he and Hassabis would discuss ways to make the world a better place: "Demis and I had conversations about how to impact the world, and he'd argue that we need to build these grand simulations that one day will model all the complex dynamics of our financial systems and solve our toughest social problems. I'd say we have to engage with the real world today."[5]


At 19, Suleyman dropped out of Mansfield College, Oxford[4] to help start the Muslim Youth Helpline, a telephone counselling service. The organisation became one of the largest mental health support services of its kind in the UK.

Suleyman subsequently worked as a policy officer on human rights for Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, before going on to start Reos Partners,[6] a ‘systemic change’ consultancy that uses methods from conflict resolution to navigate social problems. As a negotiator and facilitator, Mustafa worked for a wide range of clients such as the United Nations, the Dutch government, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.[7]

Suleyman co-founded DeepMind Technologies, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company and became its chief product officer. DeepMind was bought by Google in 2014 and he became head of applied AI at DeepMind.[8]

On 21st August 2019, Bloomberg reported that Suleyman had been placed on administrative leave because of controversy related to some of the projects he led.[9] He led the development of Streams and the relationship with the Royal Free Hospital which was widely criticised and censured by the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for data protection breaches.

In December 2019, Suleyman announced he would be leaving DeepMind to join Google, working in a policy role.[10]


Suleyman is one of the three co-founders of the artificial intelligence / machine learning company DeepMind Technologies, and started out as its chief product officer. The company quickly established itself as one of the leaders in the AI sector and was backed by Founders Fund,[11] Elon Musk and Scott Banister[12] amongst others.

In 2014 DeepMind was acquired by Google for a reported £400 million[13] — the company's largest acquisition in Europe at that time. Following the acquisition, Suleyman became head of applied AI at DeepMind, taking on responsibility for integrating the company's technology across a wide range of Google products.

DeepMind Partnerships[edit]

In February 2016 Suleyman launched DeepMind Health[14] at the Royal Society of Medicine. DeepMind Health builds clinician-led technology for the NHS and other partners to improve frontline healthcare services. One the company's first projects, Streams,[15] is a secure mobile app that helps doctors and nurses give faster urgent care to patients showing signs of deterioration by giving them the right information more quickly.

Under Suleyman, DeepMind also developed research collaborations with healthcare organisations in the United Kingdom, including Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust,[16] University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Cancer Research UK Imperial Centre to apply machine learning algorithms to issues like eye disease, head and neck cancer, and mammography.

To oversee DeepMind Health, Suleyman asked a number of respected figures to act in the public interest as independent reviewers of its activities. These nine individuals meet throughout the year to scrutinise the work of DeepMind Health, and publish their findings in an Annual Report.

In 2017, the ICO concluded a year-long investigation that focused on how the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust tested the app, Streams, in late 2015 and 2016.[17] The ICO found that the Royal Free failed to comply with the Data Protection Act when it provided patient details to DeepMind, and found several shortcomings in how the data was handled, including that patients were not adequately informed that their data would be used as part of the test. DeepMind published its thoughts[18] on the investigation in July 2017, saying “we need to do better” and highlighting several activities and initiatives they had initiated for transparency, oversight and engagement. This included developing a patient and public involvement strategy[19] and being transparent in its partnerships.

In 2016, Suleyman led an effort to apply DeepMind's machine learning algorithms to help reduce the energy required to cool Google's data centres. The system evaluated the billions of possible combinations of actions that the data centre operators could take, and came up with recommendations based on the predicted power usage. The system discovered novel methods of cooling, leading to a reduction of up to 40% of the amount of energy used for cooling, and a 15% improvement in the buildings' overall energy efficiency.[20]

AI Ethics[edit]

Suleyman is prominent in the debate over the ethics of AI[21] and has spoken widely about the need for companies, governments and civil society to join in holding technologists accountable for the impacts of their work.[22] He has advocated redesigning incentives in the technology industry to steer business leaders toward prioritising social responsibility alongside their fiduciary duties.[23] Within DeepMind he set up a research unit called DeepMind Ethics & Society to study the real-world impacts of AI and help technologists put ethics into practice.[24]

Suleyman is also a founding co-chair[25] of the Partnership on AI[26] – an organisation that includes representatives from companies such as Amazon, Apple, DeepMind, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. The organisation studies and formulates best practices for AI technologies, advances the public's understanding of AI, and serves as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and how it affects people and society. Its board of directors has equal representation from non-profit and for profit entities.[27]


  1. ^ "Mustafa Suleyman is working to alleviate human suffering through AI". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  2. ^ "Google Acquires Artificial Intelligence Startup DeepMind For More Than $500M". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  3. ^ Rowan, David. "DeepMind: inside Google's super-brain". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  4. ^ a b c Shead, Sam. "Mustafa Suleyman: The liberal activist who cofounded Google's £400 million artificial intelligence lab". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  5. ^ Rowan, David. "DeepMind: inside Google's super-brain". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  6. ^ "About Us | DeepMind". DeepMind. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  7. ^ "Mustafa Suleyman - Networks of evidence and expertise for public policy". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  8. ^ "Mustafa Suleyman - Sciences & technology in the service of society". Retrieved 28 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Bloomberg - Are you a robot?". Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  10. ^ Madhumita Murgia [ " DeepMind co-founder leaves for policy role at Google", Financial Times, 5 December 2019
  11. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  12. ^ "Deepmind Technologies". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  13. ^ Gibbs, Samuel (2014-01-27). "Google buys UK artificial intelligence startup Deepmind for £400m". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  14. ^ "Welcome to DeepMind Health | DeepMind". DeepMind. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  15. ^ "Google DeepMind's Streams technology branded 'phenomenal'". Digital Health. 2017-12-04. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  16. ^ "AI on the NHS: how machine intelligence could save the eyesight of thousands". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  17. ^ "Royal Free - Google DeepMind trial failed to comply with data protection law". 2017-08-17. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  18. ^ "The Information Commissioner, the Royal Free, and what we've learned | DeepMind". DeepMind. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  19. ^ "For Patients | DeepMind". DeepMind. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  20. ^ "DeepMind AI Reduces Google Data Centre Cooling Bill by 40% | DeepMind". DeepMind. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  21. ^ Suleyman, Mustafa. "DeepMind's Mustafa Suleyman: In 2018, AI will gain a moral compass". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  22. ^ RSA. "RSA President's Lecture: The Technologist's Dilemma - RSA". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  23. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  24. ^ Temperton, James. "DeepMind's new AI ethics unit is the company's next big move". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  25. ^ "Introduction from the Founding Co-Chairs | Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society". Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  26. ^ "US tech giants unite to ensure AI is developed safely and ethically". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  27. ^ "Board of Directors | Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society". Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society. Retrieved 2018-02-15.