Google's AI think tank is working on a way to cure cancer

Deep Mind scientists are trying to figure out how to use nanotechnology to turn off cancer cells

Deep Mind, the London-based artificial intelligence start-up bought for £400m by Google last year, is working on technology to fight cancer, according to one of the search giants's top executives.

Speaking at Advertising Week Europe in London, Google's UK head Eileen Naughton said: “In concept, they are trying to figure out how to use nanotechnology to turn off cancer cells. They're working on high level, life changing stuff.”

In recent years Google has taken an increasing interest in healthcare, establishing a Life Sciences division within Google X, the branch of Google that works on so-called 'moon projects' that are not immediately commercial. The technology giant has also launched a spin-off company, Cailco, that focuses on cures for age related diseases.

Naughton said Google's Life Sciences division was doing “an enormous amount of mapping of cancer cells” and is also working on mapping the genome of autistic people to better understand the condition.

Steven Hawking has expressed fears about possible intended consequences arising from the type of artificial intelligence that Deep Mind is working on

Member's of the science community including Steven Hawking have expressed fears about possible intended consequences arising from the type of artificial intelligence that Deep Mind is working on. Naughton conceded there are risks, saying: “You can imagine this artificial intelligence can be used for menacing purposes - you could get something like the Matrix or Terminator.”

But she added: “Demis Hassabis, who is the founder of Deep Mind, and a group of MIT professors and a whole crowd of artificial intelligence researchers recently got together and signed a doctrine that's essentially a Magna Carta for AI - how we comport ourselves and what are the ethics governing AI.”

Naughton praised King's Cross-based Deep Mind as “the most advance artificial intelligence think tank in the world” and said the engineers and scientists who staff it are viewed as the “elite of the elite” within Google.

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