Who is Mustafa Suleyman? Oxford dropout and new Microsoft AI CEO

Microsoft recently announced the formation of a new AI unit led by former Google Deepmind CEO Mustafa Suleyman. Microsoft said the new unit will focus on advancing Copilot and other consumer AI products and research at the company.

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Suleyman, who led a rival artificial intelligence startup called Inflection AI, has joined Microsoft along with many key employees at his former company. The appointment of the 39 year old AI leader is being seen as an effort by Microsoft to improve its in-house AI capabilities. Just last month, the Satya Nadella led company had invested $16 million in a French artificial intelligence startup called Mistral AI. 

Top 5 things you need to know about the Microsoft AI CEO: 

1) Born in London in August 1984, Suleyman comes from a modest background, having been raised by a Syrian-born taxi driver father and an English nurse mother.

2) Suleyman initially studied Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University, before dropping out in his second year to set up a not-for-profit counselling service called Muslim Youth Helpine, which later became one of the largest mental health support services for Muslims in the UK.

Also Read | Microsoft Engineer Warns Copilot Tool Generates Harmful AI Images, Needs Better Safeguards

3) Mustafa Suleyman, along with his partners Shane Legg and Demis Hassabis, co-founded an AI lab called DeepMind, which soon gained prominence in the tech community and was later acquired by Google in 2014. According to a Blooomberg report, Suleyman remained a key public face for the AI startup, speaking about the promise of AI and the ethical guardrails needed.

4) During his time at DeepMind, Suleyman has been embroiled in various controversies. The AI startup was criticised for its work in the UK healthcare sector, with the country’s data protection watchdog revealing in 2017 that London’s Royal Free Hospital had illegally given the company access to 1.6 million patient records, prompting Suleyman to apologise at the time.

In another controversy, many DeepMind employees complained about Suleyman’s working style, with the executive later admitting he had “really screwed up”. He said at the time (as quoted by Bloomberg): “I really screwed up. I was very demanding and pretty relentless.”

5) DeepMind put Suleyman on leave in 2019 and he was later moved to Google, where he led AI product management, until he finally parted ways with the company in 2022 to start his own company with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The new company, called Inflection AI, was aimed at creating AI that doesn’t engage in racist, sexist or violent behaviour, AP reported


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Published: 21 Mar 2024, 10:37 AM IST

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