May 14, 2023

Podcast: The 'Father of Alexa' isn’t panicking about AI just yet

This week on the pod, we chat to William Tunstall-Pedoe, the “Father of Alexa”, about where AI is going — along with some hints about his stealth AI startup

Steph Bailey

2 min read

We’re in the middle of a polarised debate about superhuman god-like artificial general intelligence (AGI) — either AI is going to take over the world and kill us all in the next five years, or it’s nothing to worry about.

For William Tunstall-Pedoe, the creator of the technology that powers Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and founder of new AI startup, UnlikelyAI, there’s some cause for concern, but we shouldn’t panic just yet. 

“Runaway AI taking control of the planet — AI being so misaligned that it kills off all the humans in pursuit of some other objective — obviously people are very concerned about that because the outcome is obviously disastrous, but it’s very hard to see how that can happen in the near future,” he said on Startup Life — The Sifted Podcast.


“But I think the people that are worried about this would say so what, if there’s a 1% chance it’s going to wipe out the human race in the next 10 years, that’s worth spending an awful lot of time worrying about.” 

While Tunstall-Pedoe’s new startup is still in stealth mode, it raised $20m last autumn from Octopus Ventures and Amadeus Capital Partners and is broadly working on building better AI. 

We’re looking to build safe, very capable, explainable artificial intelligence

“We’re currently in stealth, we hope to have a bigger reveal about what we’re working on in due course. But we’re working on transformative technology,” he said. “We’re looking to build safe, very capable, explainable artificial intelligence.

“What we’re working on at UnlikelyAI are huge outcomes if we can pull it off. So we’ve got these big challenges, but we’ve got this really, really big positive impact on the world if we can make it work.” 

On this episode of Startup Europe — The Sifted Podcast we also chatted about:

Steph Bailey

Steph Bailey is head of content at Sifted. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn