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Nando de Freitas

Computer Scientist

The brain is the most precious thing we have. It is what defines our social interactions, our dreams, our regrets, our way of perceiving and thinking about the world, and our actions. It is magic to me that brains evolved to question their role in the universe.

Being of a rather practical nature, I aim to understand how brains work by building intelligent machines. I do this for several reasons: to obtain answers to what I think is one of the greatest questions, to improve our understanding of the brain so as to help people with mental disorders (perhaps the cruellest form of illness), and to build machines that will extend the range of complex problems that we can solve. My hope is that intelligent machines will extend our mental capabilities, just like computers have done, so as to attack problems that humans find very difficult to solve at present, including wealth distribution, creating sustainable sources of energy, preventing and curing disease, preventing environmental collapse, and more.

I am fortunate to be a machine learning professor at Oxford University, a senior staff research scientist at Google DeepMind, an adjunct professor at UBC, a fellow of Linacre college, and a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) in the  Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception program. These institutions have provided me with wonderful opportunities to pursue my dreams.