Immediately’s publish is all about Akhil Raju, a software program engineer on the robotics crew. We initially met Akhil in season two of DeepMind: The Podcast, however we needed to get to know him higher and listen to extra about his path to DeepMind.
What sparked your curiosity in synthetic intelligence (AI)?
Once I was younger, I considered AI in the identical manner I considered magic. Sure, I needed to hang around with R2-D2 and Optimus Prime – however I additionally needed to go to Hogwarts. That was till I turned 12 and began collaborating in LEGO robotics competitions. At that second, I discovered that robots weren’t a fantasy or one thing that might solely exist within the far future, however relatively one thing that might be created within the current. Additionally, it seems that taking part in with robots is extremely enjoyable.
What got here subsequent?
So much! From there I continued with robotics competitions, began college at MIT, and spent numerous time learning pc science with a concentrate on robotics. After commencement, I utterly pivoted away from the sphere and joined a startup in San Francisco for a number of years earlier than shifting to Google.
It was nice however I might all the time needed to stay overseas so I began taking a look at alternatives exterior the US. At that time, I made a decision to maneuver to London and set my sights on DeepMind. I really didn’t suppose DeepMind employed individuals with out PhDs, however I gave it a shot and it labored out!
As a result of I used to be doing a switch from Google to DeepMind, I used to be capable of apply to a number of groups on the similar time. The robotics crew wasn’t on my radar till my recruiter requested me, “By the best way, you might have bits of robotics in your resume. Have you considered becoming a member of our robotics crew?” I bit on the alternative. And truthfully, it’s been wonderful ever since.
Are you able to stroll us by a typical day? What’s your schedule like?
Each morning I head into the workplace for breakfast, the place with out fail, my teammates already are. It’s change into part of our each day routine to have breakfast collectively earlier than leaping into our work.
I spend most mornings within the robotics lab, fixing failures from earlier experiments or organising new robots. Even when there’s not a lot to be completed, I get vitality from simply strolling round and seeing our robots at work, listening to the hum of the machines and motors. We’ve grown rather a lot over the previous few years, and you may really feel it whereas strolling round our area.
My afternoons are a mixture of conferences, coding and – now that most individuals are again within the workplace – an impromptu chat or two. That’s one in every of my favorite components of being within the workplace – the random catch-ups and whiteboard classes that assist me be taught and transfer shortly. From there I’ll take a fast snack break, and if the climate is good, head to the balcony to compensate for a few of my favorite US sports activities podcasts (I nonetheless haven’t made the change from soccer to soccer). Then I’ll code a short while longer.
What’s it like behind the scenes at DeepMind?
The tradition at DeepMind is without doubt one of the greatest components of being right here. From my perspective, we’ve discovered a pleasant steadiness between a college, start-up, and enormous firm. Many of the work tradition comes from the primary two.
It’s common to seek out individuals brainstorming in entrance of whiteboards with maths scrawled throughout it, or somebody tucked away in a quiet nook studying the newest analysis papers. Just like a start-up, there’s a palpable vitality all through – you may really really feel everybody’s pleasure.
It might be cliché, however if you love what you do it would not really feel like work. The robotics crew is a miniature model of all of this, with the bonus that many people are shut pals exterior of labor, too. It’s good.
How was working from house through the pandemic?
Like most individuals, I spent the primary month of the pandemic in disbelief, assuming we’d be again to regular quickly. Nearly all of our conferences and collaborations moved on-line which was an fascinating expertise for our crew particularly.
As soon as the realisation set in that we had been on this for the lengthy haul, I made a decision to spend my new-found free time to raised myself. I attempted a bunch of hobbies – lengthy sufficient in every case to say I’d tried it, however not lengthy sufficient for something to stay. I had my guitar part, a cooking part, and even a puzzle part, however my favorite was the tie-dye part. There have been a number of weeks the place I tie-dyed every part, from shirts to shorts to socks, and now they sit on the backside of my closet (the place they truthfully belong).
What sort of constructive impression are you hoping AI can have on the world?
I really feel fortunate to be at DeepMind and to have the ability to concentrate on the work that I do. Robotics – and AI typically – will probably be a constructive drive on the earth, and it’s thrilling to have the ability to assist transfer that ahead.
On the entire, I’m significantly considering seeing how AI will help mitigate local weather change – whether or not that’s by discovering methods to make use of vitality extra effectively, or enabling us to supply clear vitality. Researchers at DeepMind are already desirous about this, so I’m hopeful that we’ll be capable to transfer the world ahead and make an impression on this area.
Any suggestions for aspiring DeepMinders? Or somebody trying to get into an analogous function?
If you wish to be at DeepMind, go for it. Apply, interview, and simply strive. You won’t get it the primary time however that doesn’t imply you may’t strive once more. I didn’t suppose I might get a job at DeepMind, and once I bought the provide, my preliminary thought was – certainly it is a mistake! Everybody doubts themselves – I’ve by no means felt like the neatest individual within the room. I’ve usually felt the other. However I’ve discovered that, regardless of these emotions, I do belong and I do should work at a spot like this. And that journey, for me, began with simply attempting.
Be taught extra about robotics at DeepMind and seek for open roles as we speak
Leave a Reply