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Shane Legg

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Shane Legg
Born1973 or 1974 (age 49–50)
Alma mater
Known forDeepMind Technologies
Scientific career
ThesisMachine Super Intelligence (2008)
Doctoral advisorMarcus Hutter

Shane Legg CBE (born 1973 or 1974[1]) is a machine learning researcher and entrepreneur. With Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman, he cofounded DeepMind Technologies (later bought by Google and now called Google DeepMind), and works there as the chief AGI scientist.[2][3] He is also known for his academic work on artificial general intelligence, including his thesis supervised by Marcus Hutter.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Legg attended Rotorua Lakes High School in Rotorua, on New Zealand's North Island.[5] He completed his undergraduate studies at Waikato University in 1996.[6] Also in 1996, he obtained his MSc degree with a thesis entitled "Solomonoff Induction", with Cristian S. Calude at the University of Auckland.[7][8][non-primary source needed]

Research interests[edit]

In the early 2000s, Legg re-introduced and popularized with Ben Goertzel the term "artificial general intelligence" (AGI), to describe an AI that can do practically any cognitive task a human can do.[9] He said that at this time, talking about AGI "would put you on the lunatic fringe".[4]

Legg is known for his concern of existential risk from AI, highlighted in 2011 in an interview on LessWrong[3][10] and in 2023 he signed the statement on AI risk of extinction.[11][12]


Before his PhD and before cofounding DeepMind, Shane Legg worked at "a number of software development positions at private companies", including the "big data firm Adaptive Intelligence"[13] and the startup WebMind founded by Ben Goertzel.[4]


Legg later made a PhD at the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research (IDSIA), a joint research institute of USI Università della Svizzera italiana and SUPSI.[13][14] He worked on theoretical models of super intelligent machines (AIXI) with Marcus Hutter, and completed in 2008 his doctoral thesis entitled "Machine Super Intelligence".[4][15] He then went on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in finance at USI,[13] and began a further fellowship at University College London's Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit.[13]


Demis Hassabis and Shane Legg first met in 2009 at University College London, where Legg was a postdoctoral researcher.[16]

In 2010, Legg cofounded the start-up DeepMind Technologies along with Demis Hassabis and Mustafa Suleyman. DeepMind Technologies was bought in 2014 by Google.[17][18] After the merge with Google Brain in 2023, the company is now known as Google DeepMind.[19]

According to a 2017 article, a significant part of his job as the chief scientist was to supervise recruitment, decide where DeepMind should focus its efforts, and to lead DeepMind's AI safety work.[3]

As of July 2023, Legg works at Google DeepMind as the Chief AGI Scientist.[2]

Awards and honors[edit]

Legg was awarded the $10,000 prize of the Canadian Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence for his PhD done in 2008.[15]

Legg was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to the science and technology sector and to investment.[20]


  1. ^ Henshall, Will (7 September 2023). "TIME100 AI 2023: Shane Legg". Time. Retrieved 1 December 2023.
  2. ^ a b "About". www.deepmind.com. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  3. ^ a b c Shead, Sam. "DeepMind's elusive third cofounder is the man making sure that machines stay on our side". Insider. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d "Artificial general intelligence: Are we close, and does it even make sense to try?". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  5. ^ Ryan, Holly (10 January 2016). "Soaring Kiwis: Programmed Early for Success". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Dr Shane Legg, Distinguished Alumni Award and Public Lecture".
  7. ^ "Research Groups - CDMTCS - Research - Groups - CDMTCS - Docs". www.cs.auckland.ac.nz. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  8. ^ Legg, Shane (March 1997). Solomonoff Induction (Thesis). Auckland, New Zealand: Dept. of Mathematics, University of Auckland.[full citation needed]
  9. ^ "Who coined the term "AGI"? – goertzel.org". Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  10. ^ "Q&A with Shane Legg on risks from AI". LessWrong. 17 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Statement on AI Risk | CAIS". www.safe.ai. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  12. ^ McKee, Jake (30 May 2023). "AI creators fear the extinction of humanity". inews.co.uk. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  13. ^ a b c d Shead, Sam (26 January 2017). "DeepMind's Elusive Third Cofounder is the Man Making Sure that Machines Stay on our Side". Insider.com. Retrieved 4 August 2022. Before DeepMind, Legg spent several years in academia, completing a Post Doc in finance at the University of Lugano in Switzerland and a PhD at Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence Research (IDSIA). He also held a research associate position at University College London's Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit and a number of software development positions at private companies like big data firm Adaptive Intelligence.
  14. ^ IDSIA Staff (4 August 2022). "Institute: Our Institute—A Short Description of IDSIA". IDSIA.ch. Retrieved 4 August 2022. [IDSIA] is a not-for-profit research institute for artificial intelligence. It is a joint institute of both the Faculty of Informatics of the Università della Svizzera Italiana and the Department of Innovative Technologies of SUPSI, the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland.
  15. ^ a b "Seminar: Dr Shane Legg, "What can the architecture of the brain teach…". Oxford Martin School. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  16. ^ "TIME100 AI 2023: Shane Legg". Time. 7 September 2023. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  17. ^ "Google Buys U.K. Artificial Intelligence Company DeepMind". Bloomberg. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Google makes £400m move in quest for artificial intelligence". Financial Times. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  19. ^ "Google consolidates AI research labs into Google DeepMind to compete with OpenAI". VentureBeat. 20 April 2023. Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  20. ^ "Birthday Honours 2019: the Prime Minister's list (CSV) - GOV.UK". assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 28 July 2023.