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article imageChess star Demis Hassabis wins it all, sells company to Google

By Alexander Baron     Jan 29, 2014 in Technology
London - At 12, Demis Hassabis was the strongest chess player in the world for his age. He has come a long way in the two and a half decades since then. He sold his company Deep Mind Technologies to Google for around £300 million ($498 million).
If he had put in the spadework, it is not unlikely Demis could have become world chess champion, but he had bigger fish to fry. In 1998, he entered the second Mind Sports Olympiad where he won the Pentamind, holding the title until 2001, and winning it a record 5th time in 2003.
After that, work beckoned, although in 2006 he and his wife turned up at the 10th event with their baby son Alexander. Here he was runner up in the Pentamind, and beat his younger brother George into third place at Twixt. And last year, Alexander, at the ripe old age of 7, gave a hint that he might well be following in his Dad's footsteps.
The photograph below was taken at last year's event; if Demis looks happy, he looks even happier this week, because he sold his company Deep Mind to Google for around £400 million.
Demis Hassabis and Ankush Khandelwal at the Tetris table. Looking on is Pentamind silver medalist Ma...
Demis Hassabis and Ankush Khandelwal at the Tetris table. Looking on is Pentamind silver medalist Madeleine Heppell.
Etan Ilfeld
So what exactly does Demis do when he isn't playing games? You can read a bit about his work here, but the bottom line is that it is important work in the development of artificial intelligence, which is one of the things Mankind needs to develop to meet the challenges of the 21st Century and beyond. If robots can be developed to a sufficiently high level, they will take the drudge and danger out of most of our lives, everything from cleaning drains to building houses, and far more sophisticated fields like medical procedures.
There is still a long way to go before we reach that stage, but the last thing Demis will do for sure is retire to a tropical island and while away his days playing Twixt, as the man himself said, in not so many words.
More about demis hassabis, Mind Sports Olympiad, Artificial intelligence, Chess, Google
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