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Photograph by David Ellis—Chilli/CPi

Demis Hassabis

At least a decade ahead of expectations, Demis Hassabis and his team at DeepMind created AlphaGo, a software program that defeated Lee Sedol, one of the world's best players, at the complex game of Go. This represents a historic milestone for artificial intelligence. Demis is one of the leading scientists creating AI breakthroughs, with three Nature papers in the past two years. He believes, as I do, that AI will help solve humanity's grand challenges—alleviating poverty, curing disease and improving the environment. Of equal importance, however, Demis is deeply committed to keeping AI safe. Every technology since fire has intertwined promise and peril. Demis has been a leader in establishing ethical guidelines to keep AI accountable. If we achieve this vision, it's likely Demis will have played a large part.

Kurzweil, an inventor, author and futurist, is a director of engineering at Google, which owns DeepMind

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