The cofounder of Google's AI company DeepMind hit back at 'speculation' over his leave of absence

Mustafa SuleymanDeepMind cofounder Mustafa Suleyman.John Phillips/Stringer/Getty

  • Google-owned AI company DeepMind said on Wednesday that cofounder Mustafa Suleyman was going on leave.
  • Bloomberg, which first reported the news, said Suleyman had been "placed on leave." DeepMind said the decision for him to leave was mutual.
  • Suleyman tweeted on Thursday to quell speculation that had started to swirl following news of his departure. He said he's taking some "personal time for a break to recharge."
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DeepMind cofounder Mustafa Suleyman put out a tweet addressing the questions surrounding his temporary departure from the company.

Bloomberg reported Wednesday that Suleyman had been "placed on leave" following controversy over his projects at the company. But DeepMind's statement on Suleyman's departure contradicted this.

"Mustafa's taking some time out right now after ten hectic years," a spokeswoman said. She emphasised that the decision was mutual, and that he was expected to return at the end of the year.

Read more: Mustafa Suleyman: The liberal activist who cofounded Google's $486 million artificial intelligence lab

On Thursday evening Suleyman tweeted about the news. His wording echoed that of DeepMind's statement, but he added that he was "taking some personal time for a break to recharge."

It's unclear what speculation Suleyman is referring to, but it could be around DeepMind's relationship with Google. DeepMind's health division, which Suleyman spearheaded, was absorbed by Google last year. Forbes' Sam Shead reported that the move could have alienated Suleyman.

Suleyman founded DeepMind in 2010 with Demis Hassabis and Shane Legg. The company was bought by Google in 2014 for £400 million ($486 million). Suleyman heads up the company's "applied" division, looking for practical ways to put the AI it develops to use.

He led the development of a healthcare app called Streams, the purpose of which was to help doctors spot patients in danger of kidney failure and was sold to Britain's National Health Service. Streams ended up at the heart of a scandal as Britain's top data cop the Information Commissioner found Streams had illegally gained access the medical data of 1.6 million patients.

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