Participants

Chrisantha Thomas Fernando is a research scientist at Google-backed startup DeepMind Technologies, which is based in London and employs some of the world’s leading experts on machine learning. He joined the artificial intelligence (AI) subsidiary of the American multinational Internet services and products company last year, becoming part of a high concentration of researchers working on deep learning, a relatively new realm of AI investigation that attracted wide attention last February when DeepMind scientists published a paper in Nature that demonstrated they had created a novel artificial agent that learned to play forty-nine classic Atari games using two existing forms of brain-inspired intelligence—a deep neural-network and a reinforcement learning algorithm. Dr. Fernando’s own current work in the emerging field of artificial general intelligence is directed toward the immensely difficult task of building general-purpose systems with human-like intelligence. In a search of an explanation of how brains create explanations, he has focused on Darwinian neurodynamics, in particular, the study of informational replicators in the brain that, among other things, involved the creation of robots to test if the artificial agents could show artificial imagination and creativity that modeled human problem solving. Dr. Fernando was educated at St. Brendan’s Sixth Form College in Bristol and went on to study at Wadham College, Oxford, where he took an M.A. in physiological sciences in 1997. Three years later, he earned bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery degrees at Oxford University Medical School. After serving as a junior house officer at John Radcliffe Hospital and a senior house officer at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, he studied at the University of Sussex’s School of Cognitive and Computer Science and received an M.S. in evolutionary adaptive systems in 2002 and a D.Phil. in computer science in 2005. He subsequently held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Birmingham and the National Institute for Medical Research in London followed by a Marie Curie Fellowship at the Collegium Budapest, where he worked with Eörs Szathmáry, and another postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics at Sussex. Dr. Fernando became a permanent lecturer in computer science at Queen Mary University of London in 2011, a post he held until moving to DeepMind. He is the author or co-author of more than forty papers published in scientific journals or volumes of collected works.