A.I. ‘Godfather’ Geoffrey Hinton to Advise Meta-Backed Startup CuspAI

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Computer scientist Geoffrey Hinton is known as the ‘Godfather of A.I.’ Geoff Robins/AFP via Getty Images

Geoffrey Hinton, a British-Canadian computer scientist hailed as the “Godfather of A.I.” due to his contributions towards the technology’s development, is set to join the advisory board of CuspAI, a U.K.-based startup. The company yesterday (June 18) came out of stealth mode with $30 million in seed funding and a mission to combine A.I. with climate change efforts.

“Humanity will face many challenges in the coming decade. Some will be caused by A.I. while others can be solved by A.I,” said Hinton, who has been at the forefront of a wave of A.I. researchers warning of the technology’s dangers, in a statement.

Hinton left his role at Google last year in order to freely express his concerns that A.I. has the potential to go rogue and one day wipe out humanity. He played a key role in shaping the technology that today underpins A.I. tools like ChatGPT and in 2018 was awarded the Turing Prize for his discoveries in deep learning.

Due to his prominence in the field, Hinton has received numerous requests to advise A.I. startups—even xAI founder Elon Musk recently tried to get the computer scientist to join his advisory board. But up until now, Hinton’s only other advising role has been for Vayu Robotics, an A.I. company designing robots for local deliveries that Hinton last October described as having “fewer ethical problems than many other A.I. applications.”

Using A.I. to create materials for carbon capture

CuspAI, meanwhile, will use the technology to forward sustainability and clean energy as it creates a platform producing algorithms for A.I.-generated materials. Users will be able to request properties for new materials on demand, according to the company, which said it will focus on materials used in carbon capture and storage to aid in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. CuspAI hopes eventually to also create materials tailored for energy storage, catalysis and gas and water purification.

The startup’s co-founders include chemist Chad Edwards and computer scientist Max Welling, the latter of whom previously led a Microsoft (MSFT) Research lab in Amsterdam. “The A.I. revolution is itself creating new challenges, including rapidly increasing energy consumption and carbon emissions from data centers,” said Edwards in a statement, adding that “our technology can help mitigate this impact.” CuspAI’s initial funding round was led by European venture capital firm Hoxton Ventures and saw participation from the likes of Basis Set Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

To aid in the development of materials addressing climate change, CuspAI will also partner up with Meta (META)’s Fundamental A.I. Research (FAIR) team. This collaboration will involve Meta’s OpenDAC work, a dataset project which aims to use A.I. to reduce the cost of direct air capture, according to Meta’s chief A.I. scientist Yann LeCun. “The world needs fast progress on affordable carbon capture, and we believe that CuspAI’s team is in an excellent position to apply A.I.-based materials discovery to this pressing problem,” said LeCun in a statement.

After Turning Down Elon Musk, A.I. Godfather Geoffrey Hinton Joins a Meta-Backed Startup

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