Nando de Freitas

Nando was born in Zimbabwe, with malaria. He was a refugee from the war in Mocambique. Thanks to his parents getting in debt to buy him a passport from a corrupt official, he ended up living in a small volcanic rock hut in Madeira, Portugal, without water and electricity, before the EU got there, and without his parents who were busy making money to pay their debt.

At the age of eight, he joined his parents in Venezuela and began school in Catia; a neighbourhood of Caracas. He moved to South Africa after high-school and sold beer illegally in black-townships for a living until 1991; learning to solve ODEs in his free time. Apartheid was the worst thing he ever experienced.

He obtained his BSc in electrical engineering and MSc in control at the University of the Witwatersrand, under the guidance of amazing teachers and friends, and where he strived to be the best student to prove to racists that anyone can do it. He was privileged to obtain a PhD on Bayesian methods for neural networks at Trinity College, Cambridge University, thanks to scholarships by benevolent people who donate and invest in education.

He did a postdoc in Artificial Intelligence at UC Berkeley, and became a Professor at the University of British Columbia, Canada, in 2001 and subsequently at the University of Oxford, UK, in 2013. In 2017, he joined DeepMind full-time as a principal scientist to help with the vision of solving intelligence so that future generations can have a better life. Nando is also a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and has been the recipient of several academic awards.