DeepMind extends hunt for the world’s best A.I. researchers to Toronto

Demis Hassabis, co-founder of Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) startup DeepMind.

Jeon Heon-Kyun | Getty Images

LONDON – DeepMind, the London-based artificial intelligence lab acquired by Google in 2014, has extended its hunt for the world’s best AI researchers to Toronto, Canada.

The company posted a job ad for a research scientist in Toronto on its website last week and confirmed to CNBC on Wednesday that it plans to build a small team in the city.

DeepMind said that it already has a member of its team working out of a Google office in Toronto.

It did not specify who the worker is but James Martens, a senior research scientist who has been with the company for almost five years, has his location listed as Toronto on LinkedIn. He also attended university in Canada and worked there for several years before joining DeepMind.

DeepMind, which also has offices in Montreal and Edmonton, employs 51 people across the country, according to LinkedIn.

When it comes to AI research, Canada is widely regarded as one of the top countries in the world, along with the U.S., China, and the U.K.

Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio — two of the three so-called “godfathers of AI” — are both based in Canada, with Hinton in Toronto and Bengio in Montreal. Both have strong connections to the local universities.

Competition for talent

DeepMind, which competes with OpenAI and Facebook AI Research, has also been busy recruiting a team in New York this year. It hired Facebook AI Research (FAIR) co-founder Rob Fergus to lead the New York team last June.

While FAIR has less than 400 people, DeepMind employs around 1,000 people worldwide, with the bulk of those based at its London headquarters. The remainder are spread across satellite outposts in Mountain View (where Google is headquartered), Alberta, Montreal, and Paris.

DeepMind and FAIR have been battling it out to hire the best AI talent in the world for almost a decade. They’re hoping that these top AI researchers, who are sometimes paid around $1 million a year, will be able to create AI technology that can be harnessed by Google and Facebook, respectively.


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