Breadcrumbs

From Waikato to leading the world in Artificial General Intelligence

9 May 2018

Dr Shane Legg.

Dr Shane Legg started out with a Dick Smith’s computer for his 10th birthday, now he is at the forefront of a new computing revolution.

The co-founder of Google DeepMind graduated from the University of Waikato in 1996 with a Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences with honours. He has just been given a Distinguished Alumni Award, returning from London to his academic roots at Waikato for the honour. He says it was great to see some familiar faces from his student days, and also students who had travelled from his old high school, Rotorua Lakes, for the occasion.

It was as a student at Waikato that he first learned about machine learning, contributing code to the Java version of machine learning software which is still in use today - Weka. Now when he is speaking to new intakes of staff at DeepMind, he likes to ask: who does Weka? He says he is gratified to know there are always hands that go up, and it gives him great satisfaction to see it’s still being used after all these years.

During his career he has seen an incredible explosion in computing power, and profound changes which show no sign of slowing. At his award ceremony, Dr Legg highlighted the progress in machine learning, neuroscience and the rapid progress in computer software converging to support the future of AGI. One of DeepMind’s biggest breakthroughs was creating a system that could teach itself to play a range of computer games, and Dr Legg took many in the auditorium back in time with a Pacman visualisation of how the system adapted and became a superhuman at the classic game.

Dr Legg also leads DeepMind’s work on AI safety, which has included the development of a “big red button” to turn off machines when they start behaving in ways that humans don’t want them to.


Latest stories

Related stories

International alumnus working to minimise cyber security threats

With cyber security threats on the rise, University of Waikato alumnus Eric Wang is working…

youyou-gao

Thanks to Waikato, Youyou Gao is now where she's always wanted to be

Originally from Hefei, China, Youyou Gao thrived at the University of Waikato studying computer graphic…

Waikato Management School

Waikato Management School Ranked #1 in New Zealand

The University of Waikato Management School has been ranked number one in New Zealand for…

students-at-table

Scholarship appeal aims to help fast-track students to their future

The University of Waikato’s annual appeal for scholarships is set to help propel students into…

te-riria-potiki-appeal

Scholarships enable Te Riria to make a difference to the environment faster

As the recipient of several scholarships at the University of Waikato, Te Riria Potiki (Ngāti…

leo-oliver-appeal

Scholarship fast-tracks Leo helping people at risk of cyber attacks

Thanks to scholarship support, current Master of Cyber Security student Leo Oliver-Dowling is well on…

kaitlin-te-rito-appeal

Scholarships help Kaitlin contribute to dairy industry innovation

Thanks to a helping hand with scholarship support, engineering graduate Kaitlin Te Rito is now…

sam-fellows

Scholarships a springboard to a brighter future for Sam

Sam Fellows received several scholarships during his studies at Waikato, which he credits with helping…

madeleine-pierard

Internationally renowned soprano named Chair in Opera at the University of Waikato

Opera singer Madeleine Pierard has been named the inaugural Dame Malvina Major Chair in Opera…

Ken Perszyk

New mature student scholarship launches in Tauranga

A new scholarship has been developed to meet the needs of older students in the…

andrew-smith

Rhodes Scholar, Distinguished Alumnus and CEO supports students at the University of Waikato

Distinguished alumnus Dr Andrew Smith is funding an annual medal in excellence and kicking off…

geoff-furniss-headshot

Industry CEO proud to support opportunities for female STEM students

A new scholarship has been established to support female students studying STEM (science, technology, engineering,…