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Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt starting AI firm to solve scientific challenges

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO (Pic. Courtesy IANS)

As artificial intelligence (AI) makes deeper inroads into our lives, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt is building a new organisation to tackle scientific challenges and potentially create breakthroughs from drug discovery to material sciences.

Schmidt has hired two distinguished scientists — Samuel Rodriques, founder of the Applied Biotechnology Laboratory at the Francis Crick Institute and Andrew White, a pioneer in the use of AI in chemistry — to run the nonprofit initiative, reports Semafor.

According to the report, the effort is similar to Microsoft-backed OpenAI which developed ChatGPT.

“Funding will come mostly from Schmidt’s personal wealth, but outside funds may be necessary given the ambition of the project,” the report claimed, citing people familiar with the plans.

The project is still in early stages and exact plans could change.

In a recent article in MIT Technology Review titled ‘This is how AI will transform the way science gets done’, Schmidt wrote: “With the advent of AI, science is about to become much more exciting — and in some ways unrecognisable. The reverberations of this shift will be felt far outside the lab; they will affect us all.”

With his wife Wendy, he co-founded Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organisation that funds research projects that have the potential to generate a big impact.

The couple funded several other AI-related projects, including the nonprofit AI2050 and the AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship Programme, according to the report.

Schmidt served as CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, the company’s executive chairman from 2011 to 2015, and executive chairman of parent company Alphabet from 2015 to 2017.

He served as Technical Advisor at Alphabet from 2017 to 2020.